...And 3,2,1....and another year of A-Z April Challenge is almost in the books. Three of the toughest letters remain....and today's letter X is for Xochimilco. It is a town in central Mexico, on Lake Xochimilco: noted for its floating gardens. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I was fortunate enough to visit it about 30 year ago while in school. As a Spanish teacher I love to integrate places I have been into my lessons. I use my own pictures so the kids can be part of my virtual field trip. Xochimilco is actually in my lesson plans for next week. I was fascinated by the chinampas. It was so interesting to see the canals in the waters of Lake Xochimilco. It seems they were initially created along with that of a kind of artificial 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 a new one be built to replace it. 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. They are still in existence...and still farmed. When we left to travel to Xochimilco, our guide kept talking about the gardens. I imagined flower gardens and was a bit disappointed to see garden-gardens. The name “Xochimilco” comes from Nahuatl and means “flower field.” This referred to the many flowers and other crops that were grown here on chinampas since the pre-Hispanic periodbut once I heard the story of these magnificent gardens I was hooked...now my challenge is....can I hook my students?. Wish me luck!
To Joey, With Love....WINNER!
11 months ago