Nat’s Travels – A Hidden Garden In The Jungle
You know when you hear tales of something that sounds so strange and spectacular you just have to witness it yourself? That’s how I felt about Las Pozas, or The Surreal Garden of Edward James. I was told about a bizarre sculpture garden in a jungle, I had to see this for myself.
The Town Of Xilitla
The gardens are located just outside of the town Xilitla in the state of San Luis Potosí. I soon discovered that this would be one of the hardest places to get to via public transport! So after the worst overnight bus ride of my life (which incidentally was on Valentine’s Day, so the least romantic Valentine’s in my life), I arrived at this small town at about 7 in the morning, tired and generally not too happy!
The town is nestled in the mountains of eastern Mexico, in a subtropical rainforest. The town is one of the smallest that I visited, but with some of the best views.
First things first, I had to find my accomodation. As it turns out it was on the other side of a small valley. But at only a short walk from Las Pozas, it was in a great location. And even better, it was a treehouse. The quirkiest AirBnB I have ever booked! There wasn’t much room, the bed literally just fit in, but I loved this room. Well, when your going to see a surreal garden, you might as well pick some quirky accommodation too.
A History Of The Gardens
The gardens were made by the British poet and artist, Edward James between 1949 and 1984. Las Pozas means “The Pools” and is named for the nine pools within the property. The gardens includes more than 80 acres of waterfalls and pools interlaced with surrealist concrete sculptures.
In the gardens there were also plantations of excotic flowers, including thousands of orchids. There were also pens of wild animals and excotic birds.
It is said that James wanted to create a “Garden of Eden”. He searched for a surreal location in Mexico to express his diverse esoteric interests. The sculptures are said to be inspired by his orchids (many of which were destroyed in an unprecedented frost) the plants of the region and the Surrealist movement, which he was closely involved with. As the end of construct came when James died, it is unclear whether some of the pieces were intended to be incomplete or not, other sculptures are ornately finished.
Visiting Las Pozas
The gardens were all that I expected and more. On entering I turned to the right and went through a round structure – it looked like the frame of a hobbit hole door. I spent hours in the gardens, got lost more than once, but I think I managed to see it all.
The sculptures are amazing. With names like “The House on Three Floors Which Will in Fact Have Five or Four or Six”, “The Cinema” and “The Room With A Whale Shaped Roof” I didn’t really know what to expect. There were sculptures that were four storeys high, buildings that you could climb and pools that could be swum in. The views were stunning and as I wandered around there were places that it was eerily quiet and it seemed like I was lost in the jungle.
Some of the sculptures were beautiful, others were plain weird. There were some very intricate designs and I felt like I was in Rivendell. I’m glad I had a full day to explore. You could probably see most of the garden in three to four hours, but the whole day meant I could relax and explore at a very leisurely pace.