Saturday, April 11, 2009

Living in the clouds and among the Gods.....

The "heart of Mexico" is formed from the west, from Jalisco east through northern Michoacán, southern Guanajuato, southern Querétaro, México State, southern Hidalgo, the Distrito Federal, northern Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala, to central Veracruz,
this are is also known as the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (Eje Volcánico Transversal) also known locally as Sierra Nevada, as a volcanic belt that extends 900 km from west to east across central-southern Mexico. Several of its highest peaks have snow all year long, and during clear weather, they are visible to a large proportions of those who live in Mexico on the many high plateaus from which these volcanoes rise. (the picture here is our view towards the six "Gods" which live among us, how about this for a view.... lovely!)

The Cofre de Perote and Pico de Orizaba volcanoes, in Puebla and Veracruz, mark the meeting of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt with the Sierra Madre Oriental. To the south, the basin of the Balsas River lies between the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and the Sierra Madre del Sur. This area is also a distinct physiographic province of the larger Sierra Madre System physiographic division.
(Pico de Orizaba at left)

The highest point, also the highest point in Mexico, is Pico de Orizaba (5636 m) also known as Citlaltépetl . This, and several of the other high peaks, are active or dormant volcanoes; other notable volcanoes in the range include (from west to east) Nevado de Colima (4339 m), Parícutin (2774 m), Nevado de Toluca (4577 m), Popocatépetl (5452 m), Iztaccíhuatl (5286 m), Matlalcueitl (4461 m) Cofre de Perote (4282 m) and Sierra Negra, a companion of the Pico de Orizaba (4580 m).

The most famous volcano (and the most active) is the Popocatepetl, lovingly referred to as "Don Goyo" or "El Popo", who along with the Itzlacihuatl volcano form one of the most enduring and most beloved leyends of old: (left, "Popo") Popocatepetl means "smoking mountain" which it does, every day, and I can see it from my house and all around town. This is a very active one!

In Aztec mythology, Iztaccíhuatl was a princess who fell in love with one of her father's warriors, Popocatepetl. Her father sent her lover to a war in Oaxaca, promising him his daughter as his wife if he returned (which Iztaccíhuatl's father presumed he would not). Iztaccíhuatl was told her lover was dead and she died of grief. When Popocatépetl returned, he in turn died of grief over losing her. The gods covered them with snow and changed them into mountains. Iztaccíhuatl's mountain is called "White Woman" because it resembles a woman sleeping on her back, and is often covered with snow. (The peak is sometimes nicknamed La Mujer Dormida ("The Sleeping Woman").) He became the volcano Popocatépetl, raining fire on Earth in blind rage at the loss of his beloved. (left, Itzlacihuatl)

The Paricutin volcano, located in Michoacan is one of a kind since its formation was witnessed from its very conception. Three people died as a result of lightning strikes caused by the eruptions, but no deaths were attributed to the lava or asphyxiation. The volcano began as a fissure in a cornfield owned by P'urhépecha farmer Dionisio Pulido on February 20, 1943. Pulido, his wife, and their son all witnessed the initial eruption of ash and stones first-hand as they plowed the field. The volcano grew quickly, reaching five stories tall in just a week, and it could be seen from afar in a month. In 1952 the eruption ended and Parícutin went quiet, attaining a final height of 424 metres above the cornfield from which it was born. The volcano has been quiet since. Volcanism is a common part of the Mexican landscape. Parícutin is merely the youngest of more than 1,400 volcanic vents that exist in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and North America. (bet you didn't know there were that many volcanos here, huh?)

The state of Puebla takes its name from the capital city, which was originally La Puebla de los Angeles (Town of the Angels) but it's nicknamed "Angelopolis"..... The formal name is Heróica Puebla de Zaragoza (Heroic Puebla of Zaragoza), after Ignacio Zaragoza who defeated the Imperial French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, which is commemorated as Cinco de Mayo. (No,this is not what everyone refers to as our 4th of July... just the Battle of Puebla).

Puebla de los Angeles was the first city in central Mexico founded by the Spanish conquerors that was not built upon the ruins of a conquered Amerindian settlement. Its strategic location, half-way between the port of Veracruz and Mexico City, made it the second most important city during the colonial period.

The coat of arms has a round-heart form with five golden towers in its center, and a river below. Two angels are located over the towers, one to the left and one to the right. The letters KV make reference to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Inscribed around the coat of arms is Psalms 90:2 in Latin: Angelis suis Deus mandavit de te ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis ("God sent his angels to you, that they may protect you in all your paths."). The coat of arms makes reference to the legend of the foundation of the city. According to legend, angels descended, sketched the city and placed the heavy bells in the towers of the cathedral.

Angels, all sorts of them in every representation possible, are prominent all over the state. Metal statues, larger than life size, greet you as you drive on one of the main avenues in town while they sound their trumpets and herald their news. It doesn't matter whether they're archangels or seraphins or cherubins, angels define the area and occupy a place of honor among the more than 5, 500,000 inhabitants of this very colonial yet progressive and cosmopolitan city, and at an altitude of over 2,175 m (or 7,136 ft), well, they're not that out of reach, huh?

Look for more posts about this most interesting and colorful area.... stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Belina, Excellent post. I learned so much, looks like Colorado, what is the temperature there in the day and evenings? Take Care Sherry