On the way from Mexico City to Puebla we passed Parque Nacional Iztaccihuatl – Popocatepetl (Izta-Popo, Zoquiapan and Anexas National Park). It covers Mexico’s second and third-highest peaks, the Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatlvolcanoes. Popocatépetl (the Aztec word for smoking mountain) is an active volcano as you can see in the picture above and is the second highest peak in Mexico (5,426 m). The volcano is also referred to by Mexicans as El Popo or Don Goyo. The name Don Goyo comes from the mountain’s association in the lore of the region with San Gregorio, “Goyo” being a nickname-like short form of Gregorio.
I’m not sure if you heard but it has acctually erupted earlier this year. First at the beginning of April and then again in May. On 12 May gas-and-ash plumes rose 4 km above the crater. Incandescent tephra was ejected 2 km above the crater and again rolled 1 km down the flanks. Ashfall was reported in most municipalities within 50 km NE from the volcano. According to paleomagnetic studies, the volcano is about 730,000 years old.
The neighboring volcano is Iztaccíhuatl (the “Woman in White” – reflecting the four individual snow-capped peaks which depict the head, chest, knees and feet of a sleeping female when seen from east or west.)
And legend goes:
Thousands of years ago, when the Aztec Empire was in its heyday and dominated the Valley of Mexico, it was common practice to subject neighboring towns, and to require a mandatory tax. It was then that the chief of the Tlaxcaltecas, bitter enemies of the Aztecs, weary of this terrible oppression, decided to fight for his people’s freedom.
The chief had a daughter named Iztaccihuatl: the most beautiful of all the princesses, who had professed her love for young Popocatepetl, one of her father’s people and the most handsome warrior.
Both professed a deep love for each other, so before leaving for war, Popocatepetl asked the chief for the hand of Princess Iztaccihuatl.
The father gladly agreed and promised to welcome him back with a big celebration to give him his daughter’s hand if he returned victorious from the battle. The brave warrior accepted, prepared everything and departed keeping in his heart the promise that the princess would be waiting for him to consummate their love.
Soon afterward, a love rival of Popocatepetl, jealous of the love they professed to each other, told Princess Iztaccihuatl that her beloved had died in combat. Crushed by such tragedy and overwhelmed by sadness the princess died, without even imagining it could be a lie.
Popocatepetl returned victorious to his people, hoping to find his beloved princess. Upon arrival, he received the terrible news of the death of Iztaccihuatl. Devastated by the news, he wandered about the streets for several days and nights, until he decided he had to do something to honor her love and to assure that the princess would not ever be forgotten. He ordered a great tomb built under the sun, piling up ten hills together to form a huge mountain. He carried the dead Princess in his arms, took her to the summit and laid her on the great mountain. The young warrior lovingly kissed her cold lips, took a smoking torch and knelt in front of his beloved to watch over her eternal sleep.
From then on, they continue together, facing each other. Eventually the snow covered their bodies, forming two majestic volcanoes that would remain joined till the end of time.
The legend goes on to say that when the warrior Popocatepetl remembers his beloved, his heart – that preserves the fire of eternal passion – shakes and his torch smokes. That’s why, even today; the Popocatepetl volcano continues spewing fumaroles.
As for the coward, Tlaxcala, who lied to Iztaccihuatl, overcome with repentance for the tragedy that ensued, he went off to die very near his land. He also became a mountain, Pico de Orizaba, another of the region’s volcanoes and now, from afar, watches the eternal dream of the two lovers, never again to be separated.
I will just add that the volcanoes used to be covered by glacier but because of the frequent eruptions and climate change it has changed. There is still ice at the peak but it no longer has characteristics of glacier.
I really, really liked Puebla, it’s atmosphere, place where we were staying, narrow streets, colorful houses and squares full of people. It’s one of the five most important Spanish colonial cities in Mexico. Due to its history and architectural styles ranging from Renaissanceto Mexican baroque, the city was became a World Heritage Site. It is also known for Mole poblano (sauce) – a number one of “typical” Mexican dishes. It contains about 20 ingredients, including chili peppers and chocolate, which works to counteract the heat of the chili peppers, but it is not a chocolate sauce per se, as it is just one of the many ingredients and does not dominate. It helps give the sauce its dark color. This sauce is most often served over turkey at weddings, birthdays and baptisms, or at Christmas over shrimp cakes.
The historic center is filled with churches, monasteries, mansions and the like, mostly done in gray cantera stone, red brick and decorated with multicolored tiles. The Zocalo – main plaza originally was rectangular, but later made square because the earlier version was considered to be ugly. Until the end of the 18th century, this was the main market for the town. Today, the Zocalo is a tree-filled plaza and contains a large number of sculptures, but the most noted is the one of the Archangel Michael that is in a fountain. Many notable buildings surround the Zocalo including City Hall, the Casa de los Muñecos and the Cathedral.
Now have a look at the rest of the pictures in the slideshow below: