Welcome to Las Pozas – a jungle fantasyland in Mexico! Here we explore the weird and wonderful world of Edward James, who created this unique garden of Eden in the heart of the mountains of Mexico.
A Lengthy Detour
We had wanted to visit the jungle wonderland of Las Pozas since we saw it on the TV show ‘Unusual Gardens of the World’ at least ten years ago. However the extraordinary Las Pozas, which was created by English eccentric Edward James, wasn’t an easy place to get to. Situated near the small village of Xilitla in the mountainous state of San Luis Potosi, we would have to take a detour of nearly 400 km! We just hoped it would be worth it.
From San Miguel Allende we travelled to the city of San Luis Potosi, where we stayed for a few days to break the journey. From there, we continued to Xilitla on a local bus through the mountains. The bus stopped regularly to pick up passengers in the villages and the journey took around six hours.
The Extraordinary El Castillo
We had booked a room at Posada El Castillo the former home of Plutarco Gastelum – the man who helped the aristocrat Edward James build Las Pozas. James also lived in the house for many years and the quirky architecture of the building is similar to that of Las Pozas.
These days, it is run as a hotel by the Gastelum family and we were shown around by Plutarco’s granddaughter. We explored the many nooks, crannies and artistic features throughout the building. El Castillo was a taster of what we could expect the following day when we were planning to visit Las Pozas. Our room had unbelievably tall ceilings with green bumble bee light fixtures and gothic style windows. The huge bath was like a plunge pool.
A Rainy Day in Xlitla
The next day the sun wasn’t shining for us, in fact the heavens had well and truly opened. However, we only had a one-day window to see Las Pozas. Consequently, we weren’t going to be deterred by the weather! We took a taxi and arrived at 9.00 am sharp – we had Las Pozas to ourselves and it was only when we were returning to the entrance that the tour groups started to arrive.
The World of Edward James
The imagination of Edward James was in another realm. It’s difficult to explain Las Pozas, but it’s basically a sculpture garden set amongst thick jungle with concrete pagodas, bridges, pavilions, spiral stairways, temples and waterfalls scattered throughout. James started building in 1945 and continued for seventeen years at an estimated cost of five million dollars. Many craftsmen in the village were employed to help with the construction.
Although the jungle wonderland was in a state of disrepair, it did look as if some maintenance was going on here and there. The odd hint of colour which had survived the elements offered a glimpse of what it once looked like. It was fun following the various trails and we never knew what we were going to stumble upon.
Afterwards, we sat in the restaurant which had a tiny gift store attached to it, and reflected on our visit. Despite the dismal weather conditions, it was worth the epic trip for the chance to immerse ourselves in this delightfully eccentric world for just one day. We love offbeat and unique destinations and seek them out whenever we have the opportunity – what a dull world it would be without such visionaries as Edward James!
Since we visited Xilitla, a museum dedicated to the art of Leonora Carrington has opened in the village. We have come across her surreal sculptures and art elsewhere in Mexico and fallen in love with here unique creations. In fact, we may even be tempted to return to the mountains to visit the museum one day.