LE Mexique

2ème étape de mon tour du monde

HONOLULU – PHOENIX -MEXICO

Thursday, March 5, 2020
Night flight from Honolulu. Just under 6 hours to reach Phoenix where I make a short stopover. I’m using this time to have a good breakfast because the snack on the plane was a little light.
I walk around the airport to stretch my legs.
Local delicacies: cactus or scorpion, the choice is yours … The first rays of sun ignite the sky above the slopes.
Let’s go to Mexico!

From the air

The plane, begins its descent towards the airport of Mexico City, my head stuck to the window. A white veil clouds the sky: clouds? pollution? This megalopolis extends to infinity. With its 21 million inhabitants, it’s one of the largest human concentrations in the world. The airport built in the 60s is today found in a densely populated area given the sprawling expansion of the city. The plane continues its descent, I really have the impression that we’re going to land on the roofs of the houses!

No cart on arrival but full of porters for luggage, I head for the door and book an Uber, as recommended to me by Carlos, my AirBnb host.

It’s a 40 minutes journey to reach the Condesa district. Total fare $ 202 MX (just under € 8).

 

La Condesa

Friday March 6, 2020

End of the afternoon, I’m taking advantage of the last hours of the day to familiarize myself with my neighborhood.

With these large tree-lined avenues, La Condesa reveals an interesting mix of architectural styles. Each era has left its mark: Spanish colonial houses, 19th century French mansions, Art Deco buildings, ultra-modern constructions…
I’m having so much pleasure in strolling along the shaded streets, my camera in my hand. The atmosphere is relaxed, a little trendy side with a mix of bobo-hypster.
Cafes and restaurants with lively terraces, small itinerant sellers of fruit or flower juice, walkers with their dogs.
The dense and lush vegetation of El Parque Espanã Park offers a breath of fresh air in the heart of the city. I’m walking along Avenida Veracruz separated in two by an alley of palm trees. The tree tops meet form a veritable tunnel of foliage and provide a beneficial shade.

 

Xochimilco – Flotting gardens

Xochimilco means “place of the field of flowers” in Nahuatl (Aztec language), very poetic, I think. This name is taken from the primary function of Xochimilco in pre-Hispanic times, which was agricultural production, on small artificial islets called “chinampas”.

About 30 minutes from the city center, Xomilco has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the last vestige of the lake that spanned the Mexico Valley.
Since the Aztec period, a whole population of market gardeners, the “Chinamperos”, has supplied the capital with vegetables and flowers which they grow on these floating islets.

 

The market of San Gregorio Atlapulco nicknamed
the wheelbarrow market hasn’t stolen its name!
Blending on trestles or on the ground, the overloaded stalls overflow: stacks of fresh herbs (coriander, parsley, mint, rosemary, tarragon, oregano, epioxid with an acrid and lemon flavor …), a mountain of mangoes and pineapples, piles of avocados, assortments of peppers (Habaneros, Jalapeño, Chile Serrano, Chiala, Chile Manzano, Chipotle …) from spicy to sweetest, from big to small, from green red, very yellow chickens with their legs in the air.

I linger at the mole seller
Mole: a sauce born from the marriage of two of the most emblematic ingredients of Mexican gastronomy and agriculture: chilli and chocolate. Before the colonial era, the mole was already served to the Aztec emperors and offered to the gods.

Each region has its own recipes and each family has its own.
The traditional ingredients of the sauce are: cocoa, different kinds of peppers, tomatillos (green tomatoes), peanuts, plantains, fried and crumbled tortillas. You can add almonds, dried prunes, sesame seeds, cinnamon …
Each product is roasted then crushed with a pestle and then added to a broth, to season and monitor constantly to obtain the final texture which should be rich and creamy.

All these good smells make me hungry.

Next to a large frying pan are piled up huge grilled pork rinds. Called el chicharrón, this puffed pig skin is nibbled like a crisps accompanying a guacamole, chilli sauces, even soups.
It’s crispy. It’s far from being dietetic but I crack!

Some wobbly stools, a red and white striped oilcloth, a red parasol (which gives this color to the photos!).
Meat stall in front and taco preparation in the back.
On a plancha, the meat is grilled and the tortillas are reheated.
Two well-garnished tacos: the first bistec with beef and the second with chorizo. I’m adding coriander, a few onions, a little green sauce (the least spicy with avocados), a few drops of lime and a spoon of fresh cream.
It’s divinely good!

 

For drink, I ‘m curious to try pulque, the fermented juice of agave.
Rather opaque and dense, its consistency is almost milky, its taste is quite particular, vegetable, very green.
The pulque can be served plain or flavored (strawberry and pine nuts are the most requested flavors).
Pulque was already produced in Mexico in the 11th century. At the time, thanks to its intoxicating, fortifying and aphrodisiac virtues, the drink was considered by the Aztecs to be divine and therefore strictly reserved for elders, priests, warriors before combat and pregnant women.

 

The chinampas are forming a network of channels and artificial islets generally rectangular,  about one meter from the surface of the water.
First, canals were dug to facilitate the flow of water. The nutrient-rich mud was deposited on the island, maintained by a network of rush branches, roots, corn cane and foliage. The sowing is then carried out in a mixture of mud and foliage. Trees are planted to limit soil erosion by water.
The soil is very fertile and allows four harvests per year.
Salads, beets, carrots, chard, tomatoes, bellpepper, onions, beans, chilies, parsley … everything grows!

A whole network of canals draws a grid around the crops.
Over 180km of canals are still navigable today.

I climb on board of a wooden “canoa” (or acalli in natuahl) with a flat bottom. The paddle of the Chinamperos !!
The boat is about five meters long and just under a meter wide. Chinamaperos from father to son, Pablo, dressed in a royal blue Ralph Lauren polo shirt, gray wool pants and a white sombrero, handles this imposing paddle with agility. Standing upright, at the rear of the boat, he paddles either to the left or to the right, or by pushing on the sides of the shore. The “canoa” glides slightly over the peaceful waters of the canal.

My turn to try !! cool

Xomilco is a very popular place with Mexicans and tourists, the first part of the canals looks like an amusement park.
To go deeper into the culture of Chinampas, I chose the ecotour proposed by Pachoa Mexico, organized by Sergio, Jose Manuel and Cassandra, all three Mexicans and committed to the Chinamperos community.
We were a small group of 7 people.
A percentage of the price of the tour is donated to an association to help preserve this system of ancestral culture.

To continue travelling and visit with me Teotihuacan “The City of the Gods”

Écrivez-moi.
Vous n’imagimez pas combien un petit mot peut donner du baume au coeur quand on est à l’autre bout du monde embarassed

Écrivez-moi.
Vous n’imagimez pas combien un petit mot peut donner du baume au coeur quand on est à l’autre bout du monde embarassed