ON THE SLOPES OF POPOCATEPETL, Mexico (AP) — Every March 12, people from the villages surrounding the Popocatepetl volcano trek up its slopes to make offerings and play music in asking the mountain to spare them from eruptions.
When the sun rises, hundreds of pilgrims head out from the towns of Santiago Xalintzintla, Tlamacas and San Nicolas de Los Ranchos in van and trucks to drive part way up the 17,886-foot (5,450-meter) volcano for their daylong celebration.
They walk higher up bringing grapes, corn, watermelon, chicken and tequila hoping to appease "Don Goyo," as they call the mountain, from the Nahuatl language. Musicians with clarinets, a trombone, a tuba and drums begin playing, and the pilgrims participate in hours of song, prayers, fireworks and dancing.
Then they head back down, hoping Popocatepetl will "remain happy and at peace." The volcano soars up about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City and periodically emits bursts of ash, vapor and sometimes glowing rock.