Monday, March 16, 2009

A long weekend at El Tajin and Tecolutla....

Located in the heart of Veracruz State is the beautiful classic archaeological site of El Tajin dating from AD600-900, presided over by the wonderfully named Totonac leader "Conejo 13" (Rabbit 13), with its piece de la resistance, the incredibly well-preserved " Piramide de los Nichos".

It is believed that there were originally 365 niches and that the building was some kind of architectural calendar. The extensive site covers some 10 sq km, includes at least 17 ball courts, and was eventually abandoned around AD1200. Some of the stonework, with its Grecian designs, is very reminiscent of the Oaxaca site at Mitla.

El Tajin ( the name means thunder in Totonac ) is situated 6km West of the town of Papantla which is home to the ritual of the "voladores". Five men in ornate ceremonial costumes climb an extremely tall pole, and then whilst one stays at the top playing a drum and flute, the other four descend to the ground by revolving upside down attached to ropes. It is both an ancient fertility rite and a marking of the weeks of the year as each man revolves 13 times totalling 52 revolutions. Here are the elaborate costumes...

And here they are perched at the top of the pole getting ready to descend...

To make a varied long weekend, head to the coast to the tiny seaside town of Tecolutla. Forget impersonal, upmarket Mexican beach resorts, this is an unpretentious spot where working class Mexicans go for their holidays. It is full of old-fashioned first-class family fun. Even on grey days the beach is crowded, teeming with families burying each other in the sand, swimming in the sea with all their clothes on, building elaborate sand structures...pyramids of course...

And feasting at the biggest beach banquets ever from the freshest of seafood... crab, oysters, prawns, octupus, ceviche...all dispensed from the most delightful of food carts that trawl their wares all day up and down the thin strip of beach...


Indeed the beach becomes the site of "Battle of the Carts" as numerous ones selling food, photographs, beachwear accesories, and inflatables all compete for space and business...leading to some very surreal sights on the strip...


Papantla is 6 hours and Tecolutla 7 hours by bus from Mexico City from Terminal Norte Station. Beware!! The weather can be very wet and windy with grey overcast skies and no sign of the sun!! For other windows on the world this week click here for MyWorldTuesday....

24 comments:

Tabib said...

Beautiful archaeological site.

SandyCarlson said...

What a gorgeous calendar. That is a wonderful and mysterious culture.

travelandtrips said...

Hello,

Thanks for visiting my blog and your comments..

I love Mexico.. went 3 times and want comeback soon..

Have a nice week..

=)

http://travelandtrips.wordpress.com/

Cecile/DreamCreateRepeat said...

I grew up in a snotty resort town (Southampton, LI, NY). The town fathers would FAINT to see a cart like that on the beach! : ) That's why I don't go back there much and normally took my kids to North Carolina beaches (very family-oriented).

Of course, they never had carts like that either -- but I think they would have been pretty popular!

Today's Blah... said...

I love that impressive structure on the first photo.

A Cuban In London said...

That last shot is worth being entered into a competition for best illogical caption. He is so close to the water and his cart looks so full that it's a miracle he's not picking up his merchandise off the sand.

Beautiful shots as usual.

Greetings from London.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, double feature. Interesting pyramids and the beach, Thanks.

Sylvia K said...

That is indeed a glorious calendar! Great site! That history and culture is one of the things I found so fascinating when I lived in Mexico! Thanks for the great read and photos!

Hey Harriet said...

Wow! You sure had an exciting weekend away! The beach scenes are very funny and cute. I've never seen a cart like the one in your last pic wheeling across any beach I've been to. Wish I did! What a wonderful sight!

Louise said...

Terrific My World post! I LOVE that structure. So interesting the history of it. Thanks.

kristine said...

this looks fascinating. i'd like to visit sometime....when i do my big trip around mexico (sigh...)

Leanne said...

I love reading about your Mexican world. I think I would like to see 5 men up a pole.

hitch writer said...

Lovely snap !

and i love your blog....

magiceye said...

thank you for the wonderful tour of El Tajin!
have replied your question re the 2books (Q&A and White Tiger) on my blog.
thank you

Pagan Sphinx said...

I'm blown away by the structural calendar. That is amazing.

The beach scenes are delightful. That's the Mexico I'd like to visit.

Thanks for a wonderful photo tour.

GMG said...

Hi Catherine!
Great to have landed here from Wendy's Escape from NY...
You have a lovely blog full of great pictures! This post just remembered my 1983 visit to Oaxaca and Mitla; a wonderful adventure...
Blogtrotter

Black Women in Europe said...

Are those travel warnings to Mexico overkill?

Catherine said...

Hi the travel warnings to Mexico refer mainly to the ugly and vicious war on the drug cartels that is raging along the border towns and cities with the US... the rest of mexico including Mexico City (23hrs by road away from the border area) is perfectly safe and a joy to visit...

Gretchen FFreshink said...

My husband and I visited Papantla and El Tajin over the Christmas holilday and we felt completely safe and welcome. Thanks for reminding me of a wonderful time - I too have seen those voladores on their tower near the cathedral. It's an unforgetable sight.

putra said...

things that made a good article then...wowwwww
4allsizes

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