Mexico Trek!   Trekkers DISPATCH: September 4 Monica's Log

The Flying Men of Mexico!

People in rented boats in Chapultepec ParkShawn and I spent the day in Chapultepec Park, a huge park several miles long. It is full of historic sites, museums, and a zoo. After covering a lot of ground, Shawn and I took a break and sat down near a large pole made of metal, pushed deep into the ground. As vendors sold us cashews and peanuts, and one musician offered to play guitar for us, we noticed that some men, dressed in bright costumes, were climbing the pole to the very top.

One man in brilliantly colored clothing: red, green, blue, and white, with a type of headdress, went around and asked each person watching for 10 pesos. Shawn and I gave him our money and craned our necks to see high in the sky. This was a voladores rite, originating in Papantla, which is near the A "volador" dressed for the occasionGulf of Mexico. Four men each sat on the edges of a square at the very top of the pole, and sitting on the rectangle, started to rotate around the pole. They had ropes tied to their waists and legs, and as they rotated around, their ropes twirled around the pole. It was similar to a tetherball tightening around a pole.

Then, one of the men at the top started to play a wooden flute and a drum at the same time. We heard the melody, with a simple, rhythmic beat, floating down from the sky, and continued to watch.

On some signal, the men all turned upside down, and the square they were sitting on started to rotate as they swung their weight in a counterclockwise direction. The four men started to revolve around the pole, upside down, and their ropes started to get The voladores spinning 13 timeslonger and longer as they unwound. It was amazing. It looked like the men were flying. Most of them had on a type of bib that hid their faces. Their arms were outstretched, and each of them had tied the rope so they wouldn't fall out. It was scary, I kept thinking one of them might drop on me.

Lower and lower they twirled, and all the while the musician played the same melody Volador playing the drum as he fliesand banged his small drum. They moved so fast, it was hard to keep my eyes fixed on any one person. Some people think that fliers who perform this rite help bring rain and sun to the ground, helping with crops and fertility. Also, some people think that each of the four men goes around the pole 13 times as they drop. Four times 13 is 52, which was a very important number in pre-Hispanic calendars, as well as the number of weeks in our year.

As the men descended, they flipped over before banging their heads on the ground--each man ran fast, then slow, and slower, before each of them were on the ground and they each came to a stop. I clapped my hands and yelled "Bravo" while Shawn wondered aloud if they'd let him try it. Wow!

-Monica

 

Related Dispatches: 
Monica - The Flying Men of Mexico!
Shawn - Serenades for Sale
Monica - Would You Care to Dance?


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