We are in the most enchanting of places, which feels so fitting after the ride we had today. We left Ciudad Victoria at dawn and were out the city very quickly and onto a new version of Mex 85. This one was rural, twisty and took us up, down and deeper into the Sierra Madre. It was beautifully cool on our skin and the sunrise over the mountain tops created a misty haze in the valleys. The road took us along vast farms of sugar cane and through little villages that had bright painted buildings and kids in uniforms marching themselves off to school. The only traffic on the road were farmers with extra hands in their pick-up trucks making their way out to the fields. Sounds like a painting doesn’t it?
We took a break to have breakfast in a small village somewhere along the way. It was an adorable little comedar with Mexican music playing and a very nice smiling woman who spoke no English, but wanted to give us the best experience possible. It was also immaculate. We downed some huevos rancheros with homemade corn tortillas and just people watched. Soon the heat started to get intense and we wanted to crank out the last 148km and get ourselves to our destination. We made a quick stop at a PeMex to douse ourselves in water (yay aircon!) and we were on our way.
Gradually, we got deeper and deeper into the mountains and terrain started to turn into lush, green jungle. Along the sides of the road of this protected area were flower stands selling huge potted plants and giant palms. The road also turned very twisty and we just gradually carved our way along. Soon we started to climb and then dropped down into an alcove on the mountain top — finally we’d arrived. Xilitla had a huge welcoming sign and it wasn’t long before we were lost in the towns streets trying to find a hotel. The most challenging parts about this were a) it was extremely hot and we were drenched with sweat and b) Xilitla has cobblestone and incredibly steep hilly streets. We found a spot in the shade and pulled out the GPS to make a quick decision about where to go.
Xilitla is known for the work of artist Edward James, who created a giant sculptural garden in the jungle called Los Pazos (the pools). He lived in Posada El Castillo, the hotel that we’re staying in for the next two nights. It’s a giant stone and marble house with amazing open air architectural features. The inner courtyard has a beautiful garden, while the hallways are bright white and have honeycomb windows. There is a secret passageway that leads to another building and the stone staircase to our bedroom is narrow and winding, giving you the feeling that you’re sneaking off to a hideaway. Our room is large and beautiful with an incredible view of the town and the valley. The hotel also had many works of original art by famous Mexican artists as well as the original moulds that Edward James used to build his sculptures.
We did a bit of exploring in the town, but quickly found a little hidden patio where we could enjoy some cold beer and have a snack in the shade. Again, I couldn’t help but be struck by the kindness of the owners and their incredible attention to our experience. We just sat a savoured our beers and felt good about having a break from the heat and the road.
Tomorrow, we’re going to explore Los Pazos and see what other sorts of cool things we can find. I think there will also be some serious napping going on and probably a dip in the pool. We need to recharge our batteries for the next few days as we make our way deeper South and onwards to the Yucatan.
Sarah & Rick