One of the most pleasant memories of our trip was an afternoon spent exploring the canals in the outlying borough of Xochimilco on a traditional 30-foot-long trajinera, a type of colorful gondola. Using a long, wooden pole, our boatman propelled our craft along the calm waterways past verdant chinampas (floating gardens). This network of artificially made islands bordered by well-stocked nurseries was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. Our rainbow-colored trajinera was equipped with a bright red-and-white wood banquet table and 12 slightly rickety turquoise-painted rush-seat chairs.
Our guide had arranged for a traditional lunch of barbacoa accompanied by handmade tortillas to be served to us during the ride. The homemade food was specially ordered from a reliable merchant and delivered hot directly to our gondola. Drinks and artisanal handicrafts could be purchased from vendors on passing barges, and floating mariachi bands offered to play for a small sum. Though about 45 minutes from the city center, this is an eminently worthwhile excursion that can be combined with a visit to the Museo Frida Kahlo, a 25-minute drive away.