Tlacotalpan, Nahuatl for “place between the rivers”, is located in the eastern part of the Mexican state of Veracruz. It was settled as a river port on the banks of the “rio Papaloapan” in the mid-16th century. Papaluapan is nahuatl for butterfly waters (papalotle=butterfly, atle=water, pan=place.) The native population discovered that endless quantities of butterflies were released while rowing their boats. Tlacotalpan was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
… At a local bar, overlooking the towns plaza, my friend Diego makes an attempt to teach me how to sing “Viajera” by Luiz Alcaraz. He believes I should add this song to my repertoire though he can’t remember the middle part, no matter how hard he tries. Veracruz is known for it’s music and it doesn’t take long for a couple of roaming harpists and singers to find us and to lend us a hand. For the next hour or so I observe discussions between musicians on opposite sides of the town’s plaza. Alas, they all get stuck at the same spot and it took me until today to find the complete song …
(from “Turning Left at the Third Cactus by Christel Veraart)
Viajera que vas por el cielo y por mar,
dejando en los corazones
latir de pasión, vibrar de canción
y luego mil decepciones.
A mi me tocó quererte también,
besarte y después perderte.
Dios quiera que al fin
te canses de andar
y entonces quieras quedarte.
No se que será sin verte,
no se que vendrá después;
no se si podré olvidarte,
no se si me moriré.
Mi luna y mi sol irán tras de ti
unidos con mis canciones;
diciéndote ven, regresa otra vez,
no rompas más corazones.
The traveler who walks the skies and seas,
leaves behind in the hearts,
a passionate beat, vibrant with song,
and afterwards, a thousand deceptions.
It befell onto me to love you,
to kiss and then forget you.
God can only hope that ultimately,
you will tire of roaming and will want to stay.
I don’t know what it will be like to not see you,
I don’t know what will happen next,
I don’t know if I can ever forget you,
I don’t know if I will die.
My moon and my sun will go after you,
with my songs.
Telling you: “come”, “come back again”
Do not break more hearts.”
(Translation by Christel Veraart)