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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Changing & Daring: Sierra Gorda Biosphere

Goodness, I don't even know where to start. What do I write about? I want to tell you everything, and there are so many stories that haven't been told yet, and so many photos that are up, but haven't been shown. So this will be somewhat linear. Kinda.

I think there was a sea change in this trip, and it occurred somewhere in the Cloud Forests. Maybe it was the fact that I was feeling a bit mean after so many thousands of kilometers of desert and cactus, but being up on the exhilarating, curvy mountain roads of the Cloud Forests started to change things. 

Sometimes you forget how special an adventure is, because it becomes so mundane--you know: mountain, valley, mountain, repeat; mountain, valley, mountain... don't forget to brush you teeth between mountains! And perhaps, this sea change started even before the Cloud Forests when we were sitting in San Miguel de Allende with Max and Judith, and someone mentioned being silly and foolish and young, and I responded, "Oh, we're young? I forgot." 

So we got ourselves into days of curvy roads; the first ascent and drop seemed charming, and Ben had been dying to see something other than straight lines. Four days later Ben had had his fill; we had finally left the Sierra Gorda Biosphere and the mountain roads to exit out on the plains north of Mexico City.

But before that? It was beautiful. Desert mountains into rainforest into pine trees that reminded both of us of the American Northwest, and that damp scent of plants and dirt made it feel like Connecticut in springtime. Plunging in and out of four environments felt like an act of resetting. It wasn't another silver mining town, and we were finally back on the road in a regular way, moving everyday. 

Mexico is the picture of pastoral. I grew up in New England thinking that all the little folk art paintings in local museums, of apple orchards and cows and pigs was what the word 'pastoral' meant. But here, this place is something out of 'Sound of Music,' but with Spanish dubbing (and minus the Nazis). 

We went to Las Pozas, an architectural monument to surrealism, constructed by poet, bastard son of an English king and eccentric millionaire Edward James. 

Visiting it was straight-up life changing. 

Situated on acres of jungle forest, next to a gorgeous waterfall

which falls down into 'wells' or pools of water, giving it its name, Las Pozas. You can swim there, just like you can climb up to the top of the four or five story (depending on who's counting) cement catwalk that has no railings (Thanks Mexican Government!)


(Sorry for the swearing in the video, guys.) 

Climbing and crossing the top bridge is incredibly scary. There was at least a 50 foot drop and it is the first thing you come across when you enter Las Pozas.

James built Las Pozas not just as an intellectual exercise in applying surrealist design tenets and symbolism into architecture, but he built it to be his residence, too. As you explore, you find more and more rooms that aren't directly exposed to the air and were once living quarters. They are locked off now, and in such a manic place, locked doors incite a desire to climb everywhich way to get in (which you can't, unless you are very daring). It is an adult cement playground, hidden in the woods. 

You know those '1000 Places To See Before You Die' books? If Las Pozas isn't in it, then the book isn't worth buying. Las Pozas will change your life--no number of Dali paintings or Escher drawings hung on museum walls could ever change you like Las Pozas


Several days (and several ridiculous situations later), we're in Mexico City. And everything is sunshine and rainbows, despite the sky being cloudy and smoggy half of the time. While in fear of jinxing it, it is as though we walk, or maybe even skip, through the streets and literally pick up friends, as though we are in some music video about friendship and love and happiness. 

That is Simon, up there. He is a Twitter friend. We met Ido later that night, a friend of our hosts Eran and Keran, at a short fiction reading:

(Not Ido, but a photo of the reading.)

and then were invited to see his Volkswagon Combi and meet his brother and mother. But the real kicker is when we sent out Couchsurfing requests this morning. Later that afternoon, we're eating tacos (with habeneros, which we didn't realize until too late, because we are silly gringos and still learning) and sitting on the curb surrounding a garden and all of a sudden a guy just walks up to us, "Ben... Benjamin? and uhm, Jen...?" Turns out that as strangers in a city of twenty million (yeah, that's 20,000,000) people, you can just randomly come across someone who knows you. Or, if you're Ben, you can find someone who will curl up next to you while you nap, even though they only met you two days ago:


Amanda said...


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