Xoxomilco – Where past and present mingle

Mariachis Noche Retoque

Visitors to Cancun can now take part in a wonderful Mexican tradition. Xoxomilco was recreated in homage to the original Xochimilco in Mexico City. There, locals and tourists alike relax in traditional trajineras, eating, listening to music and celebrating as they travel along the canal systems.

Not far from Cancun, visitors are treated to a similar traditional experience. On their arrival, guests are invited to sip on drinks such as tamarind water or tequila banderas while they listen to the enchanting glass bottle music of the Botellefono. Fun and lively, it is the perfect welcome. People mingle, shop, or taste the esquites, a traditional corn dish, while they wait to board their trajinera, a gondola style boat.

A bell rings, signalling it is time to depart, and you are directed to a colourfully decorated boat adorned with the themes of Mexico’s 32 states. As you carefully hop aboard and find your seats, you notice the assortment of traditional appetizers and drinks that line the table in front of you.

Your driver gently pushes the boat away from the dock and your journey winding through the picturesque canals begins. As you drift along you pass chinampas, or floating gardens containing flowers, and chalupas, boats carrying lively bands playing the many musical styles of Mexico. The Mariachi, Jarocho quartet, Marimba, Yucatan Trova, Bolero Trio, and the foot stomping Norteños, they are all amazing. You sit back, eat, listen to the music and learn a little bit about this fabulous Mexican tradition.

Dinner is served in stages, from chalupas (boats) that you pull alongside to receive your next course. There are no tacos here; only authentic Mexican dishes are served. The second course is filled with delicacies such as shrimp ceviche, cactus pad salad, fried silversides (whole tiny fish) and crispy chapulines, or crickets, which are actually not too bad with a little lime. Dinner itself consists of six main course samplings, including the traditional pibil pork, steamed fish with wormweed, and a spicy chicken mole. The entire dinner was amazing, especially for adventurous eaters and those who love authentic food.

When dinner is over, the party begins, Mexican style. Your trajinera and two others join together with a chalupa filled with musicians playing lively Mexican music, and the singing and dancing start. Everyone gets up to shake their groove thang and dance around the boat. After a few songs you push off and continue the party by joining up with a new band and a different group of trajineras.

After all the dancing, eating and drinking you dock while the boats are cleaned for a much-needed bathroom break. On shore there is more live music, dancing and photo opportunities before you set off again on the rest of your trip.

This second half of the trip is more relaxed as you learn about the history of the Mayan culture. The roof of the trajinera pulls back to reveal a stunning sky filled with millions of stars as you listen to the story of the rabbit in the moon, portrayed by shadows projected on a rock face.

Before calling it a night you stop for traditional cafe de olla and a variety of desserts. Chalupas filled with gift items and souvenirs pass by and the romantic music of Los trovadores plays gently in the background.

If you really want an authentic experience, this is it. Relive an age-old tradition as it is celebrated by families and friends in Mexico City. The Xcaret Group has done an excellent job in recreating the experience and further enriching it by including authentic music and foods that are representative of all of Mexico. A fun evening, with great food and great entertainment.

Story by Tania Moffat, Photo courtesy of Xoxomilco

The crickets didn’t taste too bad!