” Xochimilco is one of sixteen delegaciones ( boroughs ) within the Mexican Federal District. The borough is centered on the formerly independent city of Xochimilco, which was established on what was the southern shore of Lake Xochimilco in the pre-Hispanic period. Today, the borough consists of eighteen barrios ( neighborhoods ) along with fourteen surrounding pueblos ( villages ), covering an area of 125 km2 ( 48 sq mi ). While the borough is somewhat in the geographic center of the Federal District, it is considered to be ‘south’ and has an identity separate from the historic center of Mexico City, due to its separation from the city for most of its history. Xochimilco is best known for its canals, which are remnants of what was an extensive lake-and-canal system that connected most of the settlements of the Valley of Mexico. The area attracts tourists and Chilangos ( Mexico City residents ) alike to ride on colorful gondola-like boats called trajineras around the 170 km ( 110 mi ) of canals. ”
” In 2005, the borough had a population of 404,458, 4.6% of the total population of the Federal District. The growth rate is 1.8% for the past decade, lower than the decade previous. However, a large percentage of the borough’s population lives in poverty and many live illegally on ecological reserves, lacking basic services such as running water and drainage. In the past, houses in the area were constructed from adobe and wood from juniper trees, but today, most are boxy cinderblock constructions, many of which are not painted. By the 2010 census its population had grown to 415,007 inhabitants, or 4.69% of Mexico City’s total. “
” Canals in the waters of Lake Xochimilco were initially created by the use of man-made agricultural plots called chinampas. Chinampas were invented by the pre-Hispanic peoples of the region around 1,000 year ago as a way to increase agricultural production. On the shallow waters of the lakes, rafts were constructed of juniper branches. Onto these rafts floating on the water, lakebed mud and soil were heaped and crops planted. These rafts, tied to juniper trees, would eventually sink and new ones were built to replace them. Over time, these sunken rafts would form square or rectangular islands, held in place in part by the juniper trees. As these chinampa islands propagated, areas of the lake were reduced to canals. These floating gardens were an important part of the economy of the Aztec Empire by the time the Spanish arrived. ”
” La Isla De Las Muñecas ( the island of the dolls ), the best-known chinampa in Xochimilco, once belonged to a man named Julián Santana Barrera. Barrera was a loner and was rarely seen in most of Xochimilco. He became famous for collecting the old broken bodies of dolls from canals and garbage dumps and hanging them from branches or tying them to tree trunks to keep away evil spirits and to appease the spirit of a dead girl he’d found in the canal a few years before. He stated that he believed that the dolls were somehow still alive but forgotten by their owners. In the early 1990s, Barrera was discovered living in a hut on the chinampa, formerly thought to be deserted, and he started to attract the attention of the press. He began to receive more visitors, eventually includeding local political figures. Barrera died in 2001, and there are many opinions on the cause of his death : some say he drowned himself in the river because he was driven insane, and others believe the dolls came alive and killed him. The dolls are still on the island, accessible by boat. ”
Ciudad Valles, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. On the left, Halloween masks, pretty much identical to the Ben Cooper ones of my childhood, and on the right, a woman dressed as La Calavera Catrina. ” The Day Of The Dead ” is actually two days, November first ( All Saints’ Day ) and November second ( All Souls’ Day ), but the celebrations have been going on all week. Mexicans really love Halloween, and so they’ve incorporated it into the Muerte holiday, which means that, where I am, Halloween is a week-long thing and won’t be over ’til tomorrow. Pretty sweet, right? It’s not all candy apples and razor blades, though. Yesterday, we went to the cemetery and observed family members washing graves and covering them with flowers, particularly marigolds. Last night, we went to the village square, where high school rock bands were playing. Little boys, dressed as skeletons, and little girls, dressed as red devils or Catrina, were busy painting a giant papier mache skull. I don’t think a lot of tourists come to this town, but we’re particularly out of place here : we are clearly rockeros, music-counterculture types, but we’re not kids. Nobody can figure out what to make of us, and several times last night teenagers asked us to pose for photographs with them.
Ciudad Valles, San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
Pasteleria Ideal, avenida 16 De Septiembre, Mexico City. Last night, things were hopping at the famous old bakery, where crowds bought sugar skulls, bone-shaped cookies, and pan de muerte ( which means, literally, ” bread of death ” ) in preparation for Mexico’s Dia De Los Muertos celebration. Halloween is becoming fashionable here as well, so there are now sugar pumpkins and black-and-orange streamers.
Jell-O Skull Cake.
Selecting pan de muerte.
Brujita = ” little witch “.
” Will we make it to the harmonic convergence of 2012, when the Mayan calendar supposedly ‘ends’? What will Mexico City throw at us then? Sometimes I pass the bicentennial clock near the Zócalo and imagine it’s a lift-off count. I imagine the moment when the clock reaches its row of zeros. Five…four…three…two…one. I imagine the Zócalo flagpole rumbling and breaking away from the ground, revealing a gargantuan Aztec spaceship that has been hidden inside the earth, shaped like an inverted pyramid. The spaceship is made of obsidian, jade, quetzal feathers, and volcanic tezontle stone. Its exhaust smells like burning sage. I imagine every person in Mexico City rushing to the noise and light of the plaza as the spaceship prepares to lift off. The people are peeling their clothes off and emitting primal human screams while fighting one another with their bare hands, each one of the many millions clamoring to get on board, desperate to leave the impossible city, to new uncharted planes. I march myself home, microwave some popcorn, and lie back on my bed, listless. I stare at the white ceiling and watch a neighborly cockroach scurry to his destination upside down, defying gravity. There is nothing left to do, I think, but rejoice in the thrill of the coming unknown. ”
Basilica De La Virgen De La Guadalupe, Mexico City : many of the faithful approach on their knees, inch by painful inch, helped along by their families.
I’m sorry, could you explain what message it is that you’re trying to send here, exactly?
Saturday open-air punk market, Colonia Guerrero, Mexico City.