Day two we had a leisurely start at Casa del Solar while we made our plan for the day and showered, etc. A bit before noon we headed for the Mercado de la Ciudadela, an artisan market with panchos, ceramics, and all kinds of arts and crafts. We eyed some pottery for a potential later purchase and then grabbed some lunch at Restaurante Lupita within the market. We started with a round of Micheladas (beer with lime juice and a salt rim, at least in this interpretation) and then moved onto huevos a la mexicana. Chris had enchiladas verdes and Alex had some tostadas with chicken, cheese, crema and some other legit toppings.
Once finished, Alex’s friend from home, Nancy, who also happened to have moved to Mexico City, joined us with her friend from Brooklyn. The plan was an afternoon boat ride/booze cruise in Xochimilco, a UNESCO world heritage sight and 110-mile long canal system leftover from pre-Hispanic times. Nowadays people board gondola-esque boats called trajineras and traverse the canal canal system. There are a number of artificial islands called chinampas, which were invented by the pre-Hispanic peoples of the region around 1,000 year ago as a way to increase agricultural production. The best one nowadays is the infamous “Doll Island” which basically consists of decapitated dolls and stuffed animals. Apparently a man started hanging up doll parts as a way to ward off evil spirits after he’d found a dead girl’s body. Fun! There are also tons of plant and flower vendors who have grow-houses on the shores of the canals.
The concept is basically that you spend the afternoon on the boats with family and friends, and vendors in smaller trajineras come by offering beer, micheladas, all kinds of food, dolls, etc. and you just drink the afternoon away. There are even mariachi boats you can pay to come and serenade you. We started with low-key 1 liter micheladas, “ojo rojo” style – Sol beer with maggi, fresh lime juice, salt, Worcestershire, a salsa rim and fruit gummies dumped inside. We’d eventually order another round, this time with just lime, spices, and clamato juice along with some Victoria beers. For food vendors came around with esquites – roasted corn kernels mixed with chile, lime, mayo, and spices, elote – roasted corn on the cob with similar spices, and the various quesadillas, tacos, and sopes with all kinds of meat, squash blossoms, etc.
The boat ride was awesome, and the weather was great – sunny and high 70s. There were maybe 15 of us, a mix of embassy employees and friends either local or visiting. The only odd thing is the need to use the bathroom, for which you have to pull over at either a garden center or designated WC. In our case we pulled over at a small garden center in an ancient woman’s backyard. For 5 pesos, approximately 30 cents, we got to use an extremely rustic toilet with no seat or flushing capability in some sort of stone structure in this lady’s house. Reminded me of Honduras!
After the 2 hour boat ride we were wiped, so we headed back to Polanco via an Über ride that seemed to last an eternity. Apparently most things are closed on Sunday, so we failed at several food attempts at both market and restaurant. Instead we crashed for a couple hours before a late-night stroll through Polano and ended up at Brassi, a cute bistro with live music. We shared a few entradas – grilled octopus, a sea bass ceviche, and tuna tartare on mini tostadas. Still exhausted we turned in for the night. Pyramids tomorrow!