By Local Guides


The name of this Mexican volcano comes from 2 Nahuatl words and is made up of “popoca” which means ‘that smokes’, and “tepetl”, which means ‘mountain’. This name for the volcano is an indication that its activity has been recorded since pre-Hispanic times.

Besides the famous legend about the connection of this volcano to the one next door named the “Iztaccíhuatl”; which is about an everlasting forbidden love, there is also another local story related to the nickname of the volcano: “Don Goyo”.

In the small farming town named Xalintzintla, located about 7 miles from the crater, people talk about the “Temperos” (a chaman of weather) and they are a kind of priests who claim to have the power to communicate with the volcano in dreams.
One of the most famous temper that has ever existed was Don Gregorio Chino Popocatépetl. People refer that he was not a common temper. Far from simply listening to Popocatépetl’s thoughts, this man was considered the personification of the volcano. It is said that he actually appeared every time the Popo was about to become active. In this way, he used to warn the inhabitants about the possible danger they will be facing.

This old man has white hair and beard down to his feet and when his eyes are red it is a sign that he is angry which, coincidentally was the time that volcanic eruptions will occur.

After knowing this legend, the inhabitants of the farming town began to call the Popocatépetl volcano as “Don Goyo” and every March 12, on the day of San Gregorio Magno, the inhabitants of Xalitzintla offer him flowers, turkey mole, rice, drinks, cigars, sweets, clothes and hat as a token of appreciation for their work in reporting on the conditions of the great colossus.

“THE POPOCATÉPETL” by Alfredo de la Cruz.

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