I changed my mind this morning and went on the Mexico City bus tour. Carol Ann and I were in Mexico City in 2005 and it doesn’t seem to have changed any since our visit. There is not much I can say about the city except that it is very large, traffic is terrible, and it is smoggy. One interesting thing to mention is that a lot of the buildings in the city are sinking or leaning. The city is located on what was a lake back in the Aztec days. When the Aztecs moved in, the lakefront had already been claimed by other tribes so the Aztecs settled on an island in the lake. Eventually they began to outgrow the island so they began reclaiming land. Over the years they reclaimed quite a bit of land and took control of the entire area. The lake had been turned into a large “artificial” island, crisscrossed by a series of canals. Eventually, most of the canals were filled-in and the area became what is Mexico City today. The lake still exists under much of the city and many of the larger buildings are “settling” into the mud.
We continued south through the city to the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco for lunch and a boat ride through some of the remaining canals. The canals are narrow and quite shallow and the brightly colored boats that ply these waters are powered by “pole” (the boatman pushes the boat along with a pole). All of the boats are of the same design and construction with the only difference being in how they are decorated.
Getting from the parking lot to the boat dock required running the usual gauntlet of vendors. I had forgotten to bring a hat and the sun was hot on my head so I purchased a straw hat for $25 pesos (about $2 US). Even after we were aboard the barge we couldn’t escape the vendors. They had their own boats and would simply pull up alongside. We were a captive audience, somewhat reminiscent of how pirates would pull up alongside another ship in order to board it.
The vendors’ boats were “stationed” up and down the canal. It seemed like they each had their own little area, or territory, staked out and they were laying in wait to intercept you. They would hold onto your boat and show you what they had for sale. Once they reached their territorial limit they would drop off and go back to the next boat. Then, of course, another vendor would pull alongside and repeat the process.
There were boats with musicians (Mariachi bands and xylophone players mostly) that would entertain you (for a fee, of course). Other boats sold beer, rugs, food, trinkets, candy apples, souvenirs, and other items.
Around the halfway point we discovered that a vendor was actually on the boat with us! One of the boatmen brought out his sales case and tried to sell us jewelry. There were also a few vendors who just stepped across to our boat from passing boats.
The bus ride back took over two hours because of the traffic so it was almost dark by the time we returned to our rigs. The first thing I did was check on the touch up painting. The painter had done a very good job. Especially for $360! I hope he comes by for his money before we leave for Guanajuato in the morning. If not, I suppose I could leave it with Nina, the park owner, since she is the one who recruited him for the job.