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downundergal Papantla - A travel report by Kerrie
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Papantla,  Mexico - flag Mexico -  Veracruz-Llave
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downundergal's travel reports

Papantla - flying men and ancient civilisations

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Papantla is a small, sleepy little town but it's so nice and friendly it's a good place to spend a few days here to relax and unwind and see a slice of everyday life.

Favourite spots:
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There are two main claims to fame. The first is Los Voladores and the second is the interesting El Tajin ruins located not far from the town. The town is small but it is built on the side of a slope so it is quite steep. Around the zocalo or main square there are quite a few restaurants with balconies so whilst you are eating you have a good view of the action.

What's really great:
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The Voladores or flying men are quite famous and the ceremony stems from ancient Totonic rituals to ensure the cycle of the harvest. Most Sunday's the action centres around the tall blue pole in the forecourt of the church. The flyers first do a special pre-ceremonial dance, then ask for donations (who could blame them? I wouldn't like climbing up the pole neither). They then proceed to climb up the pole whilst winding the ropes around and around the pole then they freefall back to earth unwinding gradually until they touch the ground again.
The ruins outside of the town are pretty sensational as well not in the least because of the lack of crowds and guards.
The other thing I especially liked were the Sunday afternoons that drew out the typical Mexican families. The kids are all in their Sunday afternoon best and a mini fair sets up complete with balloons and little motorised cars for the kids to ride around in.


Sights:
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If you are interested in ancient civilisations and want to visit an impressive ruin without the crowds plus throw in the fact that the site is not totally explored then El Tajin is for you. It is generally believed that the Totonic civilisation is responsible for building the site but this is still not a certainty. Pyramide de los niches is one of the main pyramids of the site. With it's 365 niches representing the year it was believed that small fires were lit in each to mark the passing of the time.
Although the back section was roped off there is a small trail that leads you around this and through to the lesser excavated areas of the site. It's worth a day exploring even if you are going on to the more well known ruins.

Accommodations:
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We stayed at the Hotel Tajin which is located up above the main town centre. It has good views and airconditoning.

Restaurants:
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Any of the restaurants around the square serve typical Mexican food and offer great views of the the square below.

Published on Thursday September 26th, 2002


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