CHOLULA, Mexico (AP) - Artists personify Popocatepetl (pronounced poh-poh-kah-TEH-peh-til) and the nearby dormant Iztaccihuatl volcano (pronounced eez-tah-ZE-wha-tul) as sleeping Aztec lovers because from a distance their shapes look like a man kneeling over a reclining woman. The image is sold on calendars, posters and T-shirts.
So when Popocatepetl hurled hot rocks and ash down its slopes Tuesday, many felt betrayed by their sacred mountain, long worshipped as a god.
There are a lot of people who are sad because he really scared us
when he shot up fire and lava and almost killed us, said Iliaria
Solano Jimenez, 75, a Nahua woman from San Nicolas de los
He kicked us out of our villages, and he no longer wants
us there. Who knows why. What does he want from us?
Residents of Solano's village used to travel up the volcano's
slopes every March, at the start of every planting season. At a dark
outcrop known as
the bellybutton, they left plates of food,
cups of tequila and a cross decorated with men's clothing for Don
Goyo, the mountain's affectionate and respectful nickname.
Then they sang as a religious leader summoned the spirits of Don Goyo and his friends: the surrounding volcanos of Iztaccihuatl, his wife; Malinche, which is considered his lover; and Pico de Orizaba.
Women later climbed Iztaccihuatl to leave offerings and dress a wooden cross in women's clothing and jewelry.
Each year when we returned, the clothing would be torn apart and
all of the plates and cups were gone, said Solano, her weathered
face framed by salt-and-pepper braids.
Solano's village stopped its annual trips six years ago after the death of its spiritual leader, who was carried up to the outcrop on his 80th birthday to perform his last ceremony.
Yet many villages still carry out similar rituals on the volcano's
slopes, whose name means
smoking mountain in the Nahuatl Indian
Solano said that even though the volcano appeared to have settled down Wednesday, she no longer trusts it and fears returning home.
Now there is no one there to protect us, she said.
him, `Why are you scaring us? You've been with us for such a long
time.' But he doesn't want to listen.
Others said the volcano's recent outburst would not change their view.
Don Goyo just needs a little tequila to calm down, an elderly
man told a group of reporters.