If there is one cultural attraction in Puerto Vallarta that you will not tire of experiencing, it has to be the flying birdmen on Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon. There are many boutiques and shops, bars and nightclubs, restaurants and cafes along with statues and sculptures that are located on the Malecon boardwalk. But one highlight you don’t want to miss is the flying voladores de papantla show. The Voladores de Papantla (Flyers of Papantla) soar through the sky when they perform their ancient ritual at various times throughout the day
Flying Birdmen On Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon
You will notice a tall pole on the beach at the northern end of the Malecon boardwalk, just opposite the Bodeguita del Medio cuban restaurant. This is where you will see amazing and talented performers putting on a breathtaking show seven days a week and several shows each day for tips. You will easily notice the traditional performers as they will will be dressed in vibrant and colorful embroidered traditional costumes
What will you see?
The cultural ritual begins when you see the five men congregate around the pole. The first dancer will climb the pole and start to play a pipe. He is the master spinner. The other men will drum up spectators and then climb the pole to the top tying one foot to a long rope that has been previously spun around the pole. When they are ready, with the music still playing, the men will sudden fall backwards off the top and start the pole spinning. As the pole spins, the rope unravels lowering the men to the ground as they are suspended by one foot. Traditionally, the men will spin thirteen times to represent the number of full moons each year. It is an impressive sight.
History behind the ritual
Legend has it that many years ago in the central part of Mexico a terrible drought gripped the land causing a great famine. The people wanted to please the gods as they thought the gods were feeling neglected. So, in order to encourage rain, five young men were sent into the forest to search for the tallest tree. They asked permission to the mountain god to cut down the tree and remove its branches. Then the five young men brought the tree back to their village where they placed it into the ground to create a pole. The men then dressed themselves up as birds and climbed to the top of the tree, jumping to the ground like birds.
This ritual is protected by UNESCO as part of Mexico’s intangible cultural heritage, and is certainly worth watching.