Monday, March 16, 2015

About Papantla

Juan said that in the Totonac language, that when a word ends in "tla" it means means "a lot" of the word preceding it.  So "papantla" means "a lot of papan" and "papan" are the birds that we saw and heard in Papantla during our visit there.
Papantla is a city of about 150,000 people which was built on the micro-hills so their homes wouldn't flood in times of rain as it did in Tejin hundreds of years ago.  The streets are narrow and crowded at times with many taxis coming and going.

We found a local well-stocked Chedraui grocery store.
The colorful gazebo at the central plaza with the cathedral behind it.

The cathedral had a Voladores pole in front and a mural on the outside wall facing the central plaza.

We were intrigued by this huge statue we could see from anywhere in the city and walked up the hills to find it.

From the top of the hill, we had a splendid overview of the city. 
Associated with the monument were murals and a meaningful explanation of the purpose of the dance of the voladores.
Roughly translated, the explanation associated with each of the following murals state:  "Messengers of the sun.  The fertility of the goddess earth begins when the sun reaches its zenith and before the arrival of Tlaloc, the god of the water.  The flying men raise their prayer to all points of the compass and when their prayers are heard, the flying men fall to the earth bringing the sun and the rain."  
Also written with this mural: "The prehispanic voladore dance is performed on very solemn religious festivals and especially the festival of the new fire that happens every 52 years when the new age begins.  Of Totonac origin, this unique dance of rich color and artistry was dedicated to the sun. The rains come after the ritual.  From a pole 20 meters high the voladores, after calling upon the gods with music, begin their flight."
 This photos shows that the pole in the cathedral court yard is as tall is almost as tall as the cathedral
Five dancers climb to the top of the pole.  Four of them get prepared for their fligt while the fifth plays the flute and bows to all points of the compass.  We have another post with more photos of their dance but it is significant to us that it was in Papantla where the dance of the voladores began.

 We zoomed in our hotel to the right of the church with two steeples.
We stayed at the Hotel la Quinta de los Leones about a mile from the center of town.  It is an older building in need of repair in a quiet area next to the church with the two towers and the civic hospital. 

We found two lions and the 30 or more steps leading down to the main road--the girl at the desk called this "the short cut" to the street rather than walking the winding 200 meters on the road.

Papantla at night from the hotel's hill showing the church with two towers and the overview of a small part of the city built on the hills.

One evening we inadvertently found the church building as we were lost and trying to find our way back to the hotel.  Two nice people gave us directions back to the church with two towers next to the hospital--and thus our hotel.  

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