Papantla Flyers return to Puerto Vallarta

The Papantla Flyers are one of the biggest attractions on the Malecon. Five flyers climb a 50-foot pole dressed in their traditional attire. One of them plays the flute while seated at the top of the pole, while the other four drop headfirst, hanging only by their ankles from a rope.

Papantla Flyers return to Puerto Vallarta
The Papantla Flyers spin bravely and dizzyingly around the pole until they reach the ground.

With 500 years of tradition, the Papantla Flyers, originally from Veracruz, are performing in Puerto Vallarta during this Holy Week to keep this Totonaca tradition alive, where they call for the fertility of the earth and abundance, a ritual dedicated to Tlaloc, god of rain.

This dance is led by the caporal who represents the sun god, as well as four other dancers who throw themselves into the void held by a rope while playing the flute and drum. In addition, their costumes symbolize their roots.

Modesto Vicente Juárez, a flyer from Papantla in Puerto Vallarta, mentions that the red part of his costume represents blood, while the flowers and details are part of his fauna.

"We have a plume that is full of flowers for part of fertility, the mirrors for us are reflective like the rays of the sun, the fan like the ribbon, the seven colors of the rainbow, the white, the white shirt we wear is part of our purity," Modesto pointed out.

These dancers obtain income through the voluntary contributions made by national and foreign tourists, earnings that were also affected during the pandemic by covid-19, however, they hope that this year, starting with these vacations, their situation will improve and they will be able to recover to help their families.

"Well, the pandemic hurt us all, because we stopped working almost the whole year and once they opened we returned to return, we went to our homeland which is Papantla, and there we went to be what is what the others touch us the field, "said Vicente.

The Flyers of Papantla dance for passion to their roots, from generation to generation around the world to show their melody, proud of their land, Mexico. "It is from us there in Papantla that this was made, they taught us and wherever we go we have to be proud of what we are," said Modesto.

Important religious ceremony

This important religious ceremony dates back 1500 years. The ritual began in central Mexico in honor of the Sun God, to have better harvests and increase fertility. The flyers represent fire, earth, water, and air. As they fall their arms are open and their heads point towards the ground.

The flute player at the top begins the ritual facing east, symbolizing the origin of the world. Each "volador" circles the pole 13 times before touching the ground. 13 laps x 4 flyers = 52, and 52 years according to the Mayan calendar, covers one solar cycle. Of course, 52 weeks make a year which symbolizes the birth of a new sun.

This risky ritual can be observed on the Malecón in the evenings. It is performed repeatedly in exchange for tips each night. The Papantla Flyers left Puerto Vallarta but have returned. Don't forget to bring your camera and don't miss this unique show.