In a “barrio” in the Federal District of Mexico City, I saw the overwhelming colors of Xochimilco. In a small harbor off a Main Street, wooden boats slightly wider than gondolas packed together in their vibrant glory. With the mid-day sun offering radiating sunlight, we hopped from the beginning of the line to the end, holding the hand of workers as we crossed from one boat edge to the other. Certainly, no one ever falls in — right?
We sat in painted wicker chairs under the canopy as our boat pushed away from the pack. Our “captain” directed us up the canal using only a long stick and his upper body strength. He began to sweep water from the deck, and told us our boat had a hole and was taking on water. “Um, ok,” is all I could think to say.
On Xochilmilco, there is a world of commerce like none I’ve ever seen. If you are hungry, you pull beside a similar boat and order a blue corn quesadilla from the woman who sits in middle of her boat-size kitchen. If you want a beer or fresh fruit or a bad of pork skins, there is a paddling vendor for that. We even enjoy a live mariachi who pulled their boat next to ours.