Perhaps most of the people who come to Mexico had the curiosity to visit Xochimilco or at least they must have come across an article about its canals.
I had the curiosity to visit one of the workshops where they repair and build the boats, or as they are call them in Mexico, Trajineras. After asking around I bumped into the workshop of Julio Chavez Romero, a local who dedicated his life to building these masterpieces that both tourists and locals enjoy while exploring the canals . He was kind enough to let me take some pictures and generous to share his story and teach me a couple things about his work.
Julio, as everybody calls him, and his friend, inherited the workshop from the previous owner. He began working for him at an early age, until the owner decided to retire, 13 years later leaving the entire business to them.
“To build a Trajinera from scratch takes us around 10 days. Not only locals buy them, but also customers from around Mexico who ask them to be shipped to their homes. For example, now we are building one for a wedding; it needs to be ready by next Sunday and shipped to Oaxaca”.
“It’s not really something to make money from, it’s rather a matter of preserving tradition. After buying all the wood and the necessary materials, that usually come from Michoacan, there is not much left. But we do it because we love it”.
“Quite a few workshops have opened around the canals, but we tend to excel due to our attention to detail and cleanliness in our work”.
The coconut thread that you see in the pictures is to water proof the wood 🙂
It was quite inspiring to meet people so proud of their work and so passionate. As I walked away they just returned to their every day tasks and kept on working.
They also organize touristic tours, so if you happen to be around in Xochimilco do not hesitate to give Julio Chavez Romero a call at +5215533488960, or reach out to him on weekends at the Zacapa Embarcadero.
Some pictures taken with the Nikon DF and 28mm AIS lens.