"Mexico" Mike - Ex-media spokesman, Mexico Tourism Ministry. Named Mexico expert by NY Times, Wall Street Journal, TX Monthly, Guardian (UK), Mexico City News, Atención (San Miguel de Allende).
is another of Mexico's little-known jewels. The English surrealist, Sir Edward James, created a unique testimony to bringing life to an artist's dreams. In this hot, humid, earthy tropical forest near the little town of Xilitla, Sir James created a sculpture garden in the wilderness. Xilitla looks something like Taxco, with its steep, hilly streets and terraced steps. Only half an hour south of Cd. Valles, Xilitla is a convenient day trip from Cd. Valles.
The sculptures are concrete with inlaid stones or glass where appropriate. The sculptures depict Sir James' vivid imagination in surrealistic terms. There are stairways to heaven, or at least that don't go anywhere on earth, houses without walls or ceilings and remarkable Fleur de lis. The sculptures were originally painted and the paint is more often than not still there.
See my humble video of Xilitla's surrealistic sculpture garden. (Opens in new window).
Edward James was an Englishman, perhaps a love-child of English nobility. He was incredibly wealthy and was able to indulge his interests, which included arts and artists. He bankrolled various surrealists (getting valuable paintings at discount prices) and was an artist himself. The sculpture garden at Xilitla was his life's work. Here, he created a fantasy world with meaning, depending on how you view it. He was called, "the most surreal of the surrealists."
Take a look at the humble slide-show I created to get a tiny idea of what this unique attraction has to offer. Xilitla is the kind of place you can go to ten times and have eleven different interpretations. You cannot really say you saw Mexico without seeing Xilitla.
Now, for the words of warning. This forest is steamy. Locals call it a jungle, but that is a stretch. I've lived in the Amazon jungle and this shares the humidity with it. Try to see Xilitla in the morning. Wear very sturdy shoes that won't slip on the occasional parts of the paths that are moss-covered, or just wet. Take water. Take your time. There are plenty of places to stop and meditate on the meaning of Life, or at least the meaning that Edward James gave it. Or places to just catch your breath.
At the end of the trail is a small waterfall and a pool. Yes, you can bathe in the pool. But wear your swimsuit or shorts. Impropriety is dealt with harshly.
There are decent guides at the entrance. Interview them to make sure their English is understandable. There are also stoned hippies selling jewelry and things outside the gates. Talking to them is like talking to hostile space aliens .When I was a hippie, I was happy and friendly. Not these dudes and dudesses. I don't know what this "younger" generation is coming to. OMG, I am my Father!
There is a DVD for sale about Xilitla that is definitely worth the $20 or so they charge at the gift shop.