San Luis Potosi runs the geographical gamut; from stark mountainous desert to lush jungles and cascading turquoise waterfalls, this Mexican state is a nature lover's wonderland. Not only are nature-lovers drawn to explore San Luis’ many natural treasures, but artists have also found inspiration there, using the lush backdrop of la Huasteca Potosina as their canvas. The small town of Xilitla in the region of San Luis known as La Huasteca Potosina is the setting of one such artist’s utopic surrealist masterpiece. El Castillo (the castle) de Edward James is this town’s main attraction, and what an attraction it is! This article gives some historical insight into El Castillo de Edward James, and a few recommendations for surrounding natural attractions.
El Castillo de Edward James or Las Pozas (pools) is a surrealist art installation conjured and created by the British poet and surrealist Edward James in the 1940s. This veritable garden of Eden contains concrete structures built seamlessly into the surrounding jungle and cascading pools. Spiral staircases leading to the sky, concrete “tombs” in the shapes of leaves and stair-cased pillars, and large incomplete structures that seem at the same time to fit perfectly into the wilderness of their surroundings are only some of the components of 80 acres of this national treasure. This park has to be one of the more magical places I have been in my lifetime, and for a small entrance fee of 100 Mexican pesos (approximately $7 USD) it is accessible to all travelers and travel budgets. Take a full day exploring this surrealist wonderland and be sure to bring a swimsuit to enjoy its beautifully crystalline cascading pools or pozas.
There are two other natural attractions near Xilitla that are worth visiting: La Trinidad and Cascada el Guardian. La Trinidad is a cloud forest park with hiking trails, caves, and rappel installations that provide incredible views of the cloud covered canopy. There are log cabins available to rent within the park for avid hikers that would like to take various hikes throughout the forest. Cascada el Guardian (also known as el Chuveje) is located a bit further away and is a 30-meter high waterfall that flows into a larger pool for swimming. Like all waterfalls in la Huasteca, el Guardian has the same crystal clear, turquoise blue waters. Due to its remoteness, there is no entrance fee to these falls. While Xilitla is accessible by bus or collective van from the capital city and surrounding towns, I would strongly recommend renting a car to tour this region for best time efficiency.
Due to the touristic draw that the Pozas have had over the past few decades, Xilitla has developed into a quaint and picturesque town deemed a “pueblo magico” by the Mexican government to garner more popularity. There are several coffee plantations surrounding Xilitla and many cafes-including the one inside Las Pozas park-serve fresh local coffee. There are a few hostels and a good number of small hotels including one build by Edward James’ Mexican guide and long-time friend known as Posada el Castillo.
Xilitla is a town in the lush jungles of La Huasteca Potosina, a region so beautiful that its scenery became the muse of a surrealist creation known as El Castillo de Edward James. A visit to this surreal wonderland in the jungle will surely capture your heart and haunt your dreams.
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