Xoximilco Cancun: A bizarre party on the water

Filed under: Things to Do - by Louise Hennessy

Xoximilco Cancun: A bizarre party on the water! If the lead up to the entrance is inviting in itself, you know that you are in for something extra special….

It all began with the sparkly, colourful archway at the turn-off, somewhat out of place to the green surroundings. Our attention thus aroused, we peered out curiously at the winding track-road, dotted with pretty white lights; and as our transport weaved in, out and over the occasional stone-walled bridge, we caught sight of an intricate system of canal routes below. Once we came to a halt around the final bend, the experience commenced with an amazing aroma…

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There’s something lovely about adults milling around, full of childish curiosity, peeping eagerly over the shoulders of those in front to see what’s there. We were just as keen to investigate  what was in the assortment of  pots and where that delicious smell was coming from… “They are esquites” (pronounced esk-EE-tays) clarified our smiley, female server, and urged us to add lime juice, chilli pepper and crumbled cheese, to bring out the best flavour. We couldn’t quite understand why the portion was so tiny, until we realised  how many things there would be to try later on in the evening, and if we hadn’t been hailed by our guide we could have easily polished off 4 or 5!

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Right behind us was the cheerful bar, where tequilas were being knocked back left, right and centre, and as with the esquites, you could easily be tempted to hammer the free bar right from the outset. However, if you like a drink there is absolutely no rush here, it will be free-flowing throughout the evening – especially tequila and beer – so we would suggest trying something less hard-core to start with…
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Perhaps the greatest charm of Xoximilco (pronouned Zocheem-IL-co) is its picturesque setting. As the whole experience begins just as night falls, pathways are lit up daintily, and the central stage for the trip, the trajineras (pronounced trahin-AIR-as), are lavishly adorned with multicoloured lights, reflecting brightly in the canal water. Maybe the best way to describe a trajinera is to liken it to a gondola, only rectanglar rather than canoe-shaped, and with space for a long table and 20 wooden chairs along the sides; and it’s a lot more colourful!

Ours turned out to be the ‘Viva Veracruz’ on this occasion, and the enthusiastic Miguel Angel was our host. He seemed ultra-keen for us to make a toast and feel at home with our group; a lively and weirdly compatible mix and match of New Yorkers, Texans, Brazilians, Brits and Mexicans, ready to have fun and and give anything a try. After we had worked out the complicated-looking, compartment-filled table, with various bottles stashed within, beer sunk deep into mounds of ice, and jugs of fresh fruit water for the teetotallers;  it was plain sailing from thereon.

It was surprising how quickly the night seemed to fly by; we were thoroughly entertained from start to finish, with as many surprises and novelties as there were bends in the canal. We partook in activities we had never done before, and would probably never do elsewhere, such as sampling chapulines (a Mexican delicacy of grasshoppers), which were really tasty once you got over the initial appearance; not to mention playing a game which is popular in the centre of the country, where the winner is the one who can bear toques  – which are basically electrical currents  – for the longest!  One of the strangest games we’ve ever played, which is uncomfortable in a addictive kind of way, and gives you the sort of feeling you don’t really know if you enjoy or not, but can’t resist trying! 

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Other memorable moments in Xoximilco? Well, it’s impossible to just sit down and watch while everyone is dancing around the tables at the end of night, to the bizarre mix of live music, provided by musicians on surrounding trajineras. At one point it seemed like a battle of the bands, whereby all the different genres of Mexican sounds were competing to see who could play the loudest and get more people to dance to their rhythm. We can truly say we have never seen or heard anything quite like it….

Our tips: biodegradable repellent: Canal + tropical climate = mosquitoes! And if you happen to be there in January or February you might want to take a light jacket, as the temperature tends to drop in the midst of the jungle!

Don’t forget to ask our concierge to find out about reserving an evening out-of-the- ordinary in Xoximilco!

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