Xoximilco–A Real Mexican Fiesta!
Touring the canals of Xoximilco on a colorful trajinera while you eat and drink is a great introduction to Mexico! It’s a fun fiesta on a barge for 20 guests. Think Venetian gondolas…but bigger, brighter and with tequila and mariachi music!
While you float along, nibble on some of the best regional food Mexico has to offer. Everything is set up at the table that spans the length of the boat. A long cooler in the centre keeps drinks cold and refreshing. Beer and pitchers of water, jamaica and tamarindo are included. (That’s pronounced ha-MY-kah. Made from hibiscus flowers, it tastes like a blend of iced tea and pomegranate juice. Tamarindo is a sweet fruit juice.)
To start, there’s delicious ceviche, fresh Oaxaca cheese, and cactus salad. And what Mexican dinner table would be complete without tortilla chips and dips—including guacamole and axiote (savory and a little spicy).
To be honest, I liked the super smooth pumpkin seed spread as much as the guac. It’s like the lively Latin cousin to hummus! Called sikil pak, this tasty traditional Mayan recipe is finding its way into cookbooks all over. There’s even a youtube tutorial on how to prepare it.
Feeling a bit adventurous? After all, you’re in Mexico! You’re partying like a local! Why not try some crunchy crickets or little charales (like anchovies) on your chips. And that dish of black paste? It’s not bean spread, like you might be thinking. It’s huitlacoche—a Mexican delicacy made from corn fungus. (Pretty ingenious to transform mould into a delicacy…although the texture is a bit slimy for me.)
Tasting good? ¿Te gustas? Savour it with a swig of Corona or a sip of wine (you’ll have to buy this separately though; wine is sadly not included). Oops, you don’t like that dish? ¿No bueno? Tequila shot to the rescue! It’s all good, amigo!
Our gondolier gently propels us along the waterway as our guide explains the food and drink to us in his delightful Spanglish. Now and again we drift alongside other trajineras loaded with musicians. Everything is
colorful, bright and lively! Traditional adobe houses line the banks, along with grander colonial buildings with arches, turrets and terraces.
It feels like we’ve gone back in time. Cancun with its sunny beaches and ‘Spring Break’ persona feels very far away… And it’s a good thing! Modelled after an actual neighborhood on the canals outside Mexico City, Xoximilco feels more authentic than I anticipated.
We glide over and pick up some quesadillas from a smiling señorita with a traditional costume and bright red lips. The fresh corn tortillas taste amazing. Just up around the bend, we stop at the dinner barge for our entrée: chicken with a mild green salsa, and pork in mole sauce with rice. There are also fajitas! Dessert features coconut treats, tres leches cake, caramel flan, and other little candies.
The 1-mile cruise takes a leisurely 3 hours and our trajinera docks at the gift shop where we began.
Some tips if you’d like to go: definitely bring bug repellent, especially if you take an evening tour. Depending on the season, you may want a light sweater or long-sleeved shirt (in the winter months it gets cool at night). Comfortable shoes (not flip-flops) are best. The park is located on the highway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun; about 5 minutes south of the Cancun International Airport.
Xoximilco is a unique park that provides a great introduction to Mexican culture and cuisine! Learning a smattering of Spanish and sampling different foods to discover your favorite is a great way to kick off your vacation. The ambience is both festive and relaxing—with mariachi bands rousing you to our feet and then quiet stretches of canal where you roll back the roof and gaze at the stars. It’s a fun gathering of friends travelling together, whether old or new!
¡Bienvenidos a Mexico!
Written by Kelly G.