Las Pozas de Edward James in Xilitla, Mexico

Las Pozas is a surrealist sculpture garden built in the 60s and 70s by the English art patron Edward James.  It's way off the beaten path in a remote region of northeastern Mexico called the Huasteca, which is known for its waterfalls and cloud forest jungle. Though geographically close to major Mexican cities and the US border, this area remains very isolated, probably due to the fact that all of the roads that lead here are terrible.  Driving here was like going back in time.  On our way there, in many places we saw more donkeys on the road than cars.

Spending the day walking around Las Pozas was such an amazing experience.  It's a massive site with hundreds of imaginative and unexpected cement structures like stairs that spiral up into the air, multi storied towers, and winding pathways.  It's all built next to a series of waterfalls and turquoise pools for swimming.  Edward James's wish was to allow it to disintegrate, and it's being slowly eaten by the jungle. Quite a bit was already crumbling in 2007 when I was there.  I believe since our visit that it's been purchased by the Mexican govornment.  (Fondo Xilitla is foundation that currently manages the site. Here's another article about preservation efforts.)


Las Pozas is outside of the hilltop village Xilitla, where we stayed at the fantastic hotel El Castillo, former home Las Pozas's architect.  It's filled with architectural oddities like a pool shaped like an eye and cement hands "holding up" the ceilings. The room we stayed in had gothic cathedral windows with a view of the lush surrounding mountains.

The Huasteca region is also home to many natural wonders like massive waterfalls, underground rivers, and caves, and beautiful wildlife.  You can visit El Sotano de las Goladrinas, one of the deepest pits in the world.  I'd recommend hiring a guide because we missed some cool things here just because we couldn't find them.  Traveling in Mexico made me understand infrastructure I take for granted as an American.

This was my souvenir from Xilitla, a passionflower vine.  It's taking over a corner of our living room.  I got the seeds from a delicious agua fresca there.  I had them for several years here in Portland before trying to germinate any.  The plant is several years old now.  Luckly two sprouted because to fruit they can't self pollinate.  This hasn't bloomed for me yet, but I'm still hopeful.  Passionflowers have to be the most beautiful and strange flowers on earth.  They come on lots of different colors, and I wonder what these will be.

other posts about our trip:

some other great Las Pozas pics:


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