Trip Start Jan 01, 2001
Trip End Dec 28, 2010

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Saturday, October 27, 2007

Time to drive again, this time we are on our way to the town of Xilitla, although we know we will not get there today. We have parked up for the night next to the forecourt of a Pemex garage in the town of Jalpen. Around about 6 pm we were surprised to see a small cavalcade of vehicles go past with different religious displays. We do not have any idea what it was about but it was colourful.
This morning we continued on our way and 3 miles past the town we turned onto a dirt road for about two miles to get to the former house of Edward James. The fabulously wealthy godson of King Edward VII, he was born in the 300 room West Dean house in Sussex. He did not like the conventions of the aristocracy and sought out the company of artists, poets and existentialists, supporting the likes of John Betjeman and Dylan Thomas. He moved to Europe in the 30's and amassed the largest collection of surrealist art in the world. With war approaching he went to the States and eventually in 1945 moved to Xilitla where he started to grow the local orchids. When a freak snowfall destroyed them he decided to build them in concrete. He hired 40 locals who worked for the next 17 years to create giant coloured flowers and even larger and stranger structures, many of these were never finished even though he spent over $5 million. On his death in 1984 he had not made any provision for the place so it is slowly crumbling away into another Mexican ruin. Nowadays they only maintain the narrow paths through the amazing jungle and buildings. It is built up a very steep hillside so there can be some very dangerous drops as you walk around. The structures are amazing, never seen anything like it before. There are actually over 100 different structures, although we only saw about 20 and to get to these it was like a maze. The place is called Las Pozas, which means the ponds, because he built it all alongside a huge waterfall which again using concrete he made into a series of pools, these were very idyllic. The whole area was filled with lush jungle and lots of different coloured flowers, but to top it all it was a haven for birds. There were some brilliantly coloured birds, which we had never seen before, just flying around overhead. On leaving here we set off towards the town of Poza Rica, again we will not get there today. We have to take some secondary roads to get there and initially that is OK but for one section of about 30 kms we have to go on a dirt road. These roads are not that well maintained and do not even have any road signs. Instead they have plenty of massive holes, lots of rivers to ford through, this meant that we could only go at 5 to 10 kms an hour, This long trip then got extended since we went straight on instead of turning right, we eventually found someone to ask who got us back to the main road again. This time we did turn right and that took us down to a ferry crossing which we were too heavy for. Luckily one of the drivers coming off the ferry advised us and tried to tell us where to go but the language was a problem again so he told us to follow him. That meant backing up the narrow road up the hill. That done we managed to turn round and he took us to a different turnoff which took us to a bridge across the river. Once again we are only shown kindness by the Mexicans we meet.  Anyway once across the river we carried on now looking for somewhere to stop. Unfortunately it took us until 7 30 at night to find one, this meant an hour of driving in the dark which we do not like to do. Anyway now parked at another garage for the night.
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