Filobobos Reserve: Paradise in the Gulf of Mexico

28/05/2021

Extreme adrenaline, landscapes composed of large waterfalls, jungle vegetation, and the history of at least three pre-Hispanic cultures (Huaxtec, Nahua, and Totonaca) come together in the Filobobos eco-archaeological reserve, located 125 kilometers from the city of Xalapa, Veracruz, near the municipality of Tlapacoya.

Associated with fertility, due to the diversity of fauna and flora, Filobobos receives its name from the Bobos River, which divides the ravine, where the two archeological sites -Cuajilote and Vega de Peña- are located. The area is approximately 10,800 hectares in size.

The main characteristic of the two archaeological zones that compose Filobobos is the relationship that exists between them and nature, because their location and the construction of temples and buildings were made according to the physiography and the natural location, that is to say, in relation to the distribution of the hills, hence some of the constructions project the natural environment that surrounds them, especially the hills.

In fact, in some buildings the water that flows down from the rivers and forms waterfalls was used as a dividing axis, that is to say, from a distance the waterfall seems to split the building in half. The proximity to the Bobos River also provided a great variety of food to the different populations, both vegetables, and animals, and also served as a transport route for goods.

In 1992, Filobobos became a protected natural area by decree of the Veracruz state government, due to the physical, geographic, and orographic conditions of the area, and also because there is evidence of at least seven archeological sites within the area. However, only two sites have been explored, El Cuajilote and Vega de la Peña, which were opened to the public in the late 1990s.

Among the immense vegetation composed of fruit trees and green pastures, El Cuajilote, a ceremonial site of regional importance, associated with the cult of fertility, consists of two rows of buildings flanking a wide avenue of more than seven kilometers, with a temple on one side and a ball game esplanade on the other. This ceremonial center flourished between 600 and 900 AD. The studies indicate that three cultures converged in this site: Huaxtecos, Totonacos, and Nahuas, this is denoted from the three architectural stages of growth that the buildings have.

Pilgrimages and rituals related to fertility and prosperity took place in this place. This is deduced from the phallic figurines (more than 300) found in all the buildings, including the ball game, in addition to the fact that in the center of the plaza there are three shrines and an erect stela, which probably served to indicate the movements of the solstices and equinoxes.

There is also a subway temazcal where ritual acts of communal purification were carried out. Another attraction of this site is an enormous sculpture representing a toad, which had divine qualities because on its back it has its glands marked with a flower, associated with divinity.

Four kilometers ahead of Cuajilote is Vega de la Peña, a site that flourished between 900 and 1500 A.D. and served as a commercial and tribute collection center. In this multicultural area, there is also evidence of the Nahua, Huaxtec, and Totonac cultures, different structures can be distinguished, among them a ball game and the Cuantepantli, so it is deduced that Vega de la Peña functioned as a treasury place from which the tax was distributed.

In one of the buildings that conform it, known as the Dintel, mural painting and remains of a housing unit were found, also guild type centers were found, that is to say, workshops to work the obsidian and the yarns. Another of the buildings located in that area is the so-called Temple of the Grecas, which is a monument dedicated to Venus.

Visitors to the area, other than appreciating these constructions, can interact with nature, since there are several pools where they can swim, and the river also allows extreme sports such as white water rafting or flying on a zip line. The place also has an area of hotels and cabins equipped with all the services or if they prefer they can camp.

By Mexicanist, Source INAH