Perhaps I Fell down a Rabbit Hole
This weekend I journeyed to Xilitla in the state of San Luis Potosi.
In Xilitla stands Las Pozas de Edward James, which is considered the greatest surrealist art movement in the world.
Edward James was a British poet born in the early 1900’s. He inherited a fortune from his father, a founding partner of Phelps Dodge Corporation.
He was a strong proponent of surrealist art, and at one point, financially supported the famous artist Salvador Dali.In 1945, Edward James visited the town of Xilitla in San Luis Potosi. He immediately fell in love with it’s lush rain forest teeming with wildlife and abundant flora. He called this place his “Garden of Eden.”
To his dismay, in 1962 over 15,000 of his cherished orchids died due to frost from a harsh winter. This put his fantasy world in jeopardy. After that event, he became infatuated with the idea of creating a concrete jungle to preserve this dreamlike place. The statues would emulate the flowers and forest creatures that he admired. Over the course of his lifetime, he poured all of his fortune, around 5 million dollars, into these surrealist sculptures.
His passion and obsession in turn has created one of the most mystical places in the world. An expression of surrealistic art set within the jungle, where fantasy meets reality. In total, 36 sculptures have been accounted for, which due to overgrowth of vines and plants, have morphed into a new presentation of art altogether.
I’ll be honest, I had assumed this expression of surrealistic art was less inspiration, and more so many years of heavy drug use, but that is beside the point! Hah. Whatever his motivation, I feel completely honored to be able to witness this art movement.
I visited Las Pozas de Edward James in order to put myself into his position. What kind of place would inspire someone to do this? It would have to be incredibly influential and energizing…and it was.
Let me take you on my journey through Las Pozas. 😀The first path I took led me to Las Pozas or “The Pools.” A cascading waterfall leads down to these turquoise pools of water, where all are welcome to swim and take in the surrounding view.
From there, I wandered around to the view the different buildings. Some were used when James was alive to house different exotic species, such as macaws, ocelots, and boa constrictors.
The site consists of paved trails, steep steps and narrow bridges. Visitors are free to wander as they please amongst the sculptures. This is the path of serpents, which is said to represent the seven deadly sins.Some of the structures had crazy names like, “House on Three Floors, Which Will in Fact Have Five or Four or Six.”“House with a Roof like a Whale.”There were also twisted things like staircases that led to absolutely nowhere.
Yet at the same time, this peculiar design is what adds to the mystery and illusion of this dream world. From waterfalls, to exotic plants and concrete man-made wonders, you never knew what to expect around the next corner.
Some structures were absolutely massive and towered among the tree tops with an almost eerie presence.
Of course, I can’t help but smile from the thrill of adventure. 🙂It was easy to see how some of the structures represented the orchids that James cherished during his life.That being said, Edward James would be happy to see that the surrounding jungle is still full of vibrant vegetation.To give you a comparison, most of the tropical plant leaves were larger than my feet. 😛 Tehe.As I continued to meander around this jungle paradise, I began to compare this fantasy world to scenes from Alice in Wonderland.
Perhaps, like Alice, I had fallen down a rabbit hole. 😛
The resemblance to Wonderland became even more uncanny as I left Las Pozas and arrived at my accommodation.
Located a few hundred yards from Las Pozas is Casa Caracol.I walked along a dirt path and across a beautiful stream of trickling water to this bizarre hippy camp.I do love their use of recycled material to build the path. 😉Casa Caracol was the cheapest accommodation at around 10 dollars per night, and seemed like the most fitting due the unconventional nature of this place. 😛As I walked around the campground, I was confused, yet intrigued by the strange array of sculptures and chachkies scattered across the lawn.At this point, I was sure the Mad Hatter was going to step in and offer me a cup of tea. 😉
When I entered the main lodge, I was overwhelmed by it’s bizarre collection of objects, antiques and collectibles.
I met a few travelers at the lodge, like one guy from Canada who had sold all of his belongings, and was planning to take his motorcycle around the world. He is currently shooting a video blog to document his journey. Poor guy…I didn’t have the heart to tell him to shave his grizzly beard, since after six months on the road, he looked like Cro-Magnon man and I would be terrified to watch his video blog. Oh well, I wished him safe travels and all the best on his adventure. 🙂
After checking in, I was able to pick out which tipi I would like to stay in. After perusing my options of multicolored huts painted with barbaric looking natives, I decided on the blue one with a nose bone and nipple rings. It seemed most appropriate. Hah. 🙂To continue with the theme of Alice in Wonderland, hold on one minute while I shrink down small enough to fit through this door. 😛After settling in, I walked around the complex and found this sweet tree fort. Curiosity provoked me to climb on up and take a look. What a spectacular view of the rain forest! 🙂As night began to fall, the stars came out and the crickets began to chirp. I bundled myself underneath a mound of comforters and from within my tipi, I drifted soundly asleep.
Here is a view from the inside. So peaceful.The next morning, I awoke to a beautiful sunset and began my trek back to town.
If you wonder how I navigate in the jungle, this is how. I literally don’t know where I would be without my smart phone. Hah. 😛On my way back, I found a sign for a waterfall, so I decided to check it out. I traipsed across a shallow stream to find this hidden gem. Just gorgeous!Here were some cows grazing in a field amidst the tropical landscape. 🙂I wonder if they were the same herd I ran into on my taxi ride there. 😛
When I think about the different senses gathered from this place, the sounds were the most memorable to me. The chirping birds, babbling brook, and crowing roosters. I thought I would share a few of these moments with you. 🙂
When I finally made it to town, I spent some time walking around the center to shop at the market.Aside from Las Pozas, Xilitla is also Pueblo Mágico with a lot of charm.Among all the places I have visited, Xilitla has been placed at the top of my list. I hope to return there again someday.
As well, since I have made such a comparison to Alice in Wonderland throughout this trip, I thought I would leave you with one final quote. 🙂
For the logistics, there was a direct bus from Querétaro for around $17. The ride; however; was not for the faint of heart. For seven hours, we wound around narrow paths dangerously close to the edge with a sharp drop off into the valley below. Aside from occasionally clutching my seat, I was captivated by the views.
After three hours, we stopped in Pinal de Amoles.On the way in to town, I spotted this roadside stand selling crystals.This little tyke was absolutely precious and reminded me of Boo from Monsters Inc. 🙂After another two hours, we stopped in the gorgeous Pueblo Mágico of Jalpan where the bus driver let us stop for a lunch break of spicy chicken tamales. 🙂 Yum.The path from Querétaro to Xilitla follows the route of the Sierra Gorda. This bioreserve is known for being one of the most biodiverse locations in Mexico. We passed through the desert, above the clouds in the mountains, and finally into the jungle.
After returning home, and spending an hour scrubbing the mud off my shoes, I was ready to take on another week of school.
This is why I love teaching.
Today we began learning new vocabulary words for our next story about a navigator that trekked across the Arctic. One of our words is durable, which means sturdy and able to withstand wear and tear. I asked the classroom, “What is something that is durable?” Their responses included hiking boots, backpacks, and bike helmets. After a few logical responses, one of my students said, “Grandmas. My grandma is VERY durable.” Hah. I had to stop myself from laughing. I was NOT expecting that response. I told him that grandmas need to be tough and yours would be happy you said that. 🙂 I also told him that grandmas are fragile and needed to be treated with care. So funny. Never a dull moment in the classroom.
Additionally, Mondays we have a weekly faculty meeting and we watched a very cute movie about teaching. I thought I would share with you. Happy Monday. Wishing you all a wonderful week. 😀 Until next time.