14 – 20 February 2020
We mentioned in a previous post that there were three ‘musts’ we wanted to see in our travels around Mexico.
We’d seen the Monarch butterflies in their winter migration home. Now we were headed to the second ‘must see’. That was the surrealist sculpture garden of Las Pozas created in the Mexican jungle by the wealthy and eccentric Englishman Edward James, patron of artists Magritte and Dali.
We said farewell to Suzanne and John of Tigger’s Travels and left Morelia to head north to the mountain village of Xilitla, home of James’ concrete Garden of Eden.
On the way, we stopped overnight in the little village of Bernal. Here is its most famous sight.
…the Pena de Bernal, at just over 1,400 feet high, it is one of the tallest monoliths in the world. We walked up the hill for a closer look but were too late to get onto the hiking trail leading to the top. We headed back into the town along with a few disappointed couples who were clearly aiming for a romantic insta snap on the rock to post on St Valentine’s Day.
We stayed the night in a car park and set off early next morning for Xilitla.
The drive up into the Sierra Gorda mountains was hard going – long slow steep climbs….
…and tight switchbacks.
As a treat and to enjoy the full Edward James’ experience, we booked in for two nights in to stay at the eight-bedroom Posado el Castillo, once the family home of Plutarco Gastelum, James’ longterm friend and collaborator in creating Las Posas.
We met Plutarco’s granddaughter
..and stayed in the bedroom used by Uncle James when he was in Mexico.
It has a Magritte painting of Edward James. A print that is. Of the back of James’ head.
Las Pozas is a weird and wonderful place and judging by the crowds there, a popular tourist attraction.
Back into the town for the afternoon, we watched dancing in the square…
…went shopping in the local market.
And visited the museum of Leonara Carrington.
Then it was once more back on the road. Our fellow guest at El Castillo recommended the hot springs of Rio Verde as a good place to stop and break our journey. We had a swim….
and the friendly security guard said we could stay overnight in the car park so long as we had left next morning by 7 am.
San Miguel de Allende
Mention you are travelling to Mexico and everyone – especially anyone from North America – will mention our next stop – San Miguel de Allende. Throw a stone there and chances are you’ll hit a gringo.
The place is heaving with us! One in 10 – to be more precise- are from the USA or Canada because the little town is a hugely popular retirement destination.
And all are fiercely active retirees judging from what we could see on our wander round.
If they weren’t whacking balls across the net beside our van (the campsite came with hot showers and tennis courts) they were huddled in a corner discussing rhyming couplets whilst dressed in yoga gear. A Shakespeare tutorial with stretching? The local estate agent is a branch of Sotheby’s and the shops reflect the affluent clientele.
There’s no doubt San Miguel de Allende is a beautiful place with its colourful Spanish colonial houses and cobbled streets, the Parroquia church glowing pink in the sunset- but we were happy to move on after one night.
We were headed to Guanjuato, another place we’d heard a lot about. But first, a quick stop in the small town of Dolores Hidalgo. It is the place to go if you are looking for handcrafted talavera ceramic tiles. Or in our case, just looking at the tiles. So much choice, so little room.