Love stories and mythology have been intertwined over the years; our pre-Hispanic ancestors have also left a legacy that even today has aroused our imagination and taken us on a journey through time, into understanding our very own culture.
One of the best-known stories in Central Mexico, is the one about an eternal love that so far remains on; the love between Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl.
“Popocatépetl means in nahuatl “smoking hill”: popocha; smoke; and tepetl; hill. Iztaccíhuatl also in Nahuatl means: Iztac, cihuatl, “white women”.
Like many of those tales told around the world, this love story has several versions, but in all of them, the love between these two is the central character.
It is said that in the times when the Aztec Empire dominated the Valley of Mexico, other villages were subject and forced to pay tribute, however a Tlaxcalan chieftain called Tezozomoc decided to break with oppression and began a struggle to liberate his people.
Popocatepetl, the greatest warrior that Tezozomoc had, was in love with the daughter of the chieftain; Princess Iztaccíhuatl, who also loved the warrior back; so before undertaking on the fight to free his village, the warrior asked for the hand of his beloved in marriage, offering to return victorious from all his battles in return. Tezozomoc agreed and Popocatepetl went away moved by his love and eagerness for freedom.
While Popocatepetl fought and achieved more and more victories, battle after battle, Iztaccihuatl waited anxious for news; but days and nights passed without knowing about the warrior; until one day, another warrior, envious of the love of the great warrior Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl, had the princess believe that her lover had died while fighting with the enemy.
Full of sorrow and depressed by the loss, Iztaccihuatl lost all hope, and spent her days and nights crying bitterly and without eating, until she fell into a deep dream, from which no one could wake her at all.
Shortly afterwards, the warrior returned from his crusade and as soon as he knew what had happened, he went where the Princess was laying, and took her in his arms, lit a flaming torch, and left the palace and the city.
Once in the mountains, Popocatépetl laid the body of princess Iztaccíhuatl in the top, gave her a kiss, took his smoky torch and knelt, watching over her eternal sleep. Time and the gods’ compassion covered both lovers’ bodies with snow and turned them slowly into great volcanoes that so far remain together and silent. The mountain where Iztaccihuatlrested, took the form of a “sleeping woman”; Popocatepetl, even now still recalls his beloved and his tragedy; so he turns on his heart, where still holds the fire of love, making the ground tremble while his torch exhales its eternal fumarole.