No. 9: La Sierra Gorda, Part II

October 15, 2008. Las Pozas, San Luis Potosí.

Xilitla group

Saturday morning we set off for another full day of learning and living during this, the second half of our Sierra Gorda trip. Early that morning we checked out of the hotel and headed to Landa to see the last of Father Serra’s missions to be completed in the region. Here, the façade’s design is even more complex than in Jalpan, crowded with numerous saints and martyrs (many of them rarely portrayed in Mexican Landa facadereligious art), as well as flora and fauna from the region. We also visited Landa’s regional museum, a source of great pride for the residents.

We then went to Tilaco, deemed the “happiest” of the five missions with its festive façade, slender tower, and hues of blue, white, and red. At this, our last mission visit, I was proud of the students as they correctly identified all of Tilaco towerthe complicated iconography on the majestic façade for our guide.

Next we journeyed north to Xilitla, our final destination. Because the following day we were to visit Las Pozas, the imaginative surrealist retreat built by English artist Edward James, we decided to visit the local museum dedicated to this eccentric millionaire that afternoon after lunch. Here we learned about James, his friendship with other artists like Dalí and Picasso, and his vision for the extraordinary gardens which he spent 20 years building. River crossing

Following the museum visit we were privileged to enter El Castillo (The Castle), James’ whimsical house in town, which is now an enchanting inn and generally closed to non-guests. Getting a taste for what we would experience the following day, we climbed numerous staircases, wandered the halls, and even slid down poles. At the close of our day, we checked into the charming Hostal del Café, where we all enjoyed an evening of great food and conversation around the enormous table in the inn’s cave-walled dining area.

Early Sunday morning our guides treated the group to yet another hike off the beaten track—this time through the jungle, across rivers, and ending at another magnificent waterfall. After a time of swimming and relaxing, we then entered Las Pozas where we saw for ourselvesLas Pozas James’ fanciful structures and sculptures intertwining with real semitropical foliage. We carefully ascended staircases leading nowhere, explored secret passageways, got lost in the jungle, and swam in clear pools and gorgeous waterfalls.

Although we didn't arrive in Querétaro until 11:00 that evening, we returned rested and restored after having spent a long weekend in God's rich creation.

To view our last two days, click on the slideshow below: