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Villagers make offerings to Mexican volcano named 'The Sleeping Woman'

The inhabitants of Santiago Xalitzintla rise well before dawn to prepare their offerings to The Sleeping Woman'. This is the nickname they affectionately call the dormant Iztaccíhuatl volcano that looms above their town in central Mexico.

Santiago Xalitzintla has the distinction of being the community closest to Popocatépetl, a crater that has increasingly been belching lava and spewing ash as far as Mexico City, 90 kilometres (56 miles) to the northwest.

Hundreds of villagers, including families with infants, preschool-aged children and the elderly, make the biannual three-hour trek through steep pine forest and past babbling brooks to ask for the volcano's aid and protection.

There are papayas and watermelons carved into flower shapes; cups of milky pulque, an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant; cobs of corn; incense; and votive candles.

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