Xochimilco is touted as the Mexican Venice. Its 180 km. tree-lined canals are plied by brightly colored and flower-decked trajineras, the local equivalent of the gondola and the amphibious cousin of the Philippine jeepney, complete with female names and the occasional religious praises distinguishing one from the other. We boarded one which had a long yellow picnic table and yellow chairs. There were 12 of us but it could have accommodated a few more. We were provided with a big tub of ice packed with beer and assorted sodas and juice for the journey.
As the boatman expertly guided us out from the crowded dock and into the waterway, I sat back and let the experience delight my senses. We glided gracefully past private houses along the banks which reminded me of those homes along the canals near Camden Lock. We were approached by vendors on their own punts selling everything from jewelry to candied apples, corn, toys, ponchos, and of course flowers. Xochimilco does mean “place where flowers grow” in the Nahuatl language. We cruised past other trajineras carrying picnicking families, tour groups, couples on dates, and marimba musicians. And then there were the mariachis! We were serenaded by 2 different groups. They attach their boat to yours and then entertain you for $6 per song. The first group did just that, and played for us from their boat. It was fun but not as fun as the second group! There were more of them, 7 to be exact, 6 men and one lady. They go by the name “Mariachi Mexico Juvenil de Luis Alberto Bustos”. (Yes, exactly that. I have their business card. J ). Talk about fun! They jumped onto our boat and their leader (Luis Alberto, I’m guessing) proceeded to introduce himself and his group with much pomp and pageantry. We couldn’t resist this young bunch of energetic musicians. They had us on our feet dancing, singing along and screeching as they shook their booties at us. By request, they played old favorites like Guantanamera, La Negra Tomasa, La Cucaracha and my personal all-time favorite Cielito Lindo, aaaaaayayayay!
And then without warning the strangest sight appeared before us. There on the bank was a vision that would have spooked even Stephen King. Dolls were hanging on the trees, some with limbs torn off, mostly naked but many in ragged clothes, limply hanging by the neck, heads of dolls lodged onto ends of branches, all in various states of disarray. No one had an explanation for it, not Sergio, not the boatman, not any of us. We were stumped. I thought maybe it was a Halloween thing, it was Oct. 13 after all.
But as I was typing up this post, I decided to google it. Who knows right? Well, lo and behold I found an explanation! Apparently, it’s called La Isla de las Muñecas (
We had to cut the 2 hour boat trip short because we were anticipating heavy traffic back into downtown. That night was the rehearsal dinner to be held at Hacienda de los Morales and we couldn’t afford to be late. My first Mexican hacienda! I was giddy with excitement.
This Mexican insitution lived up to expectation, it was spectacular! It exudes old style glamour and elegance from every corner of those terra cotta walls. Torches in the courtyard and along the driveway lend a rustic and romantic atmosphere to the place. The original land title of this hacienda was a gift from Hernan Cortes to Isabel, the daughter of Moctezuma in the 16th century and was converted into a restaurant in 1967. It was bigger than I had pictured it to be.
There was no way I could have taken pictures of the food, it would have seemed too crass in such a place. I had the duck in raspberry sauce which was superb! For dessert, I opted for strawberries and cream drizzled with chocolate which I chose from the dessert tray, a luxurious indulgence befitting the setting. The prices of course are steep and a strict dress code is imposed, keeping this establishment (it feels almost blasphemous calling it that) exclusive.
La Hacienda de los Morales,
Vazquez de Mella 525, col. Polanco
(52) 5 281 4703