Xilitla San Luis Potosi - Surrealism, Sweat, Sculpture

Surrealistic Sculpture Garden in an Orchid Forest

Eastern San Luis Potosi state is a treasure chest of hidden jewels. None are brighter or more mysterious than Xilitla

Edward James, the English poet and champion of the surrealist movement of the 1920's-40's created a sculpture garden in the steamy orchid jungle. James was patron to Dali, Picasso, Magritte and other surrealists. Dali said of James, Of all the surrealists, you are the most surreal (or the craziest - you see both phrases). His monument is equally ambiguous. It is called Las Pozas or El Castillo Ingles.

Edward James created a unique testimony to bringing life to an artist's dreams. It helped that he was unimaginably rich too. He devoted years creating fanciful whimsical sculptures in a forest of tropical trees with wild orchid parasites sharing their life-force. Once in the fantasy, sweat streams in rivulets, soaking one's shirt in seconds. But you don't care. It's all part of becoming immersed in James' world.

  • Short Takes

    Info
  • Xilitla is the kind of place you can go to ten times and have eleven different interpretations.
  • Steamy. See in the AM or be prepared to sweat buckets.
  • Slippery. Hiking shoes/walking stick suggested.
  • Stoned Euro-trash selling jewelry at gates are best avoided.
  • DVD sold in gift shop well worth it.
  • You cannot really say you saw Mexico without seeing Xilitla
Life and Sculpture Means What You Want

 

Xilitla is surrealistic itself. Steep meandering streets snake down from the highway to the town. The drop steeply and quickly, reminding one of Taxco, QRO. The town's architecture follows no code but displays lots of whimsy.

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 gone to join its creator in the ether.

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.

Now, for the words of warning. This forest is steamy, but not in a sensual sense. Locals call it a jungle, but that hyperbole. Rain forest is more like it. I lived in the Amazon jungle and the humidity, at least, is comparable. 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!

 

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