La Huasteca Potosina – Magia Dentro de la Selva

I’ve been really awful at updating this old thing, sorry people who read / follow this blog. My apologies. Today, I bring you the magic of the Huasteca Potosina to compensate for that a little.

La Huasteca (in general) is a specific cultural and geographic region of Mexico that spans several states, including San Luis Potosi, Veracruz, Hidalgo and some others. Apparently each Huasteca region has its own customs, food, tradtions etc., that vary from the others, but La Huasteca Potosina is considered one of the more important (or perhaps just better known / more easily accessible) regions.

It’s a 3-5 hour journey from the capital of the state, San Luis Potosi (SLP), to the main city within the Huasteca Potosina region, Ciudad Valles, through some beautiful scenery. The landscape changes quite dramatically from the dry, arid desert that surrounds SLP to the lush, green vegetation of the Huasteca. I had a pretty nice ride of it thanks to BlaBlaCar.

Anyways. From Ciudad Valles, I made my first trip to one of the million rivers that flow through that area – Cascada Micos. It’s a 30min / 30peso collectivo (shared taxi) ride to the waterfall, where I quickly discovered that they charge you for just about everything. Entrance: 40pesos.
Life jackets (supposedly mandatory to even swim in the river, but I guess they can’t be bothered to stop wild foreigners who want to “risk their lives”): 30pesos
Tour to jump off a series of 7 waterfalls: 180pesos

 

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One of the many waterfalls at Micos

It’s a pretty enough place, but I got a little bit annoyed with all the fees for everything. Eventually, I caved and decided to go on the Jumping-Off-Waterfalls tour. It turned out to be pretty fun, even though they made us wear life jackets and helmets and water shoes (these were surprisingly helpful with the jagged rocks), took slightly over 2hrs in total.

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The Jumping-Off-Waterfalls Crew

 

Pictures not great cause water + not my phone + the guide was bad at taking pictures but here are some anyway.

 

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One of the many jumps. I am not a glam jumper of waterfalls.
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The highest waterfall we jumped off – supposedly 8m.

 

 

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Total overkill with the helmet and life jacket but oh well.
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They’re quite pretty, these waterfalls.

 

 

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Walking on water!
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Now being a corpse in water.

 

 

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My glamour shot the guide insisted everyone take.

The next day, I was planning to go to Xilitla (which supposedly is pretty remote and doesn’t have WiFi / Internet access which was why I was wanting to go over the weekend since I didn’t have to work), BUT a couple I met at my hostel invited me to go on their tour with them (they’d already paid the taxi driver who was gonna be driving them around) SO I decided to jump on that.

 

It ended up being a very long day from 9am to 8pm (mas o menos). *All the pictures from this day are not great cause I didn’t have my phone with me.*

Stop #1: It was supposed to be Cueva de Agua (Cave of Water) + Cascadas de Tamul (Tamul Waterfall) but it hadn’t rained enough for there to be water in the waterfall (thanks climate change!) so we just did Cueva de Agua. We had to row ourselves (with an actual boatman) like 20-30 min along the river to get to the cave, which was filled with gorgeous blue / transparent water. Pretty cool stuff. Supposedly there are crocs in this river, but we didn’t see any.

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The only picture I have of the Cueva de Agua. It was very cold and there were bats.

 

Stop #2: Puente de Dios. Had 0 idea what this was about, but it turned out to be pretty cool. We decided to do the trail “backwards” but that ended up being a great idea. Nacimiento (the source) –> Los Chorritos (baby waterfalls) –> Las Playitas –> Poza Azul (Giant pool of turquoise water, a cool waterfall, and a strong current) –> Puente de Dios (Cave filled with water that you can swim through!!!!) –> Random Cascada. It’s pretty amazing IRL – Google it, because I have lousy pictures.

 

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Getting a hydromassage at Las Playitas.
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Inside the Puente de Dios – it’s dark but the illumination in the picture is totally natural and super surreal! If you squint, you can see my teeth.

 

Stop #3: We were supposed to go to Cascada Tamasopo but they were closing pretty soon, so we went to Rio El Trampolin instead. Chilled out little spot along a gorgeous blue river. I enjoyed the vibe here, a nice change after the bunches of tourists we encountered at the other two spots.

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There were many cool trees, and not many people!
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Looked very much like something out of a fairy tale.

Yowza – long day, and totally not my style to pack my days like this, but ah well. Turned out well in the end.

The next day was a sampler of some of the local Husasteca cuisine, chief highlight of which was the zacahuil, basically a giant tamal that’s much more squishy than regular tamales.

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Just looking at this picture is making me drool

We also tried tamales refritos (fried tamales), which we all agreed was a bit much. Frying the tamal didn’t add anything to the taste tbh.

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Ugly picture of average food.

Andddd bocoles, kinda like tiny gorditas in which the masa is prepared with pork lard, making it extra delicious but also extra heart-attacky. (I do not have pictures of this – their deliciousness made it necessary for me to devour them before I had a chance to think about taking a picture.)

After that, it was off to Xilitla (pronounced hee-leet-la) with three other backpackers I met at my hostel. The local bus was pretty expensive (Vencedor, 143pesos for a 1.5-2hr ride!) so we split the taxi fare of 700pesos for a more comfortable and quicker ride.

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Sunset in Xilitla.

Xilitla is a pueblo magico, a title given to random towns around Mexico that have something special about them (natural beauty, historical significance, cuisine, culture / traditions etc.) or a bunch of money to pay off the tourism board. There are over 120 of them at present, so.

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They have fancy letters spelling out their name, that’s how you know it’s magico.
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Plaza principal

ANYWAY. Xilitla’s magic (partly) comes from the surrealist gardens constructed by a rich British guy, Edward James. The story goes that he had a lot of money (so much that he could afford to sponsor Salvador Dali), and he was at a river in the middle of the jungle near Xilitla when he was engulfed in a cloud of butterflies that inspired him to build random concrete structures within the jungle. So he bought 36 hectares of land, hired a bunch of locals and artists to design and build crazy-looking structures in the middle of nowhere. Yea, doesn’t make sense to me either.

The result: Las Pozas: Jardin Surrealista de Edward James. In the 60-70 years since the structures were installed in the jungle, Mother Nature has reclaimed them and they look super trippy.  

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Structure at the entrance. They all have funny names.
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These hands have become a symbol of Xilitla for some reason.
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Nobody was entirely sure what any of these structures were meant to be.
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Sweaty.
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House of bamboo, or something like that. Bamboo palace? Idk.
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My favorite structure!
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On a random roof.

And that was basically the end of my four-day stint in La Huasteca Potosina. I missed out on a bunch of other waterfalls and lakes and pools and El Sotano de las Golondrinas (a cave where millions of birds fly out and in of at dawn and dusk), but I guess this gives me reason to go back some day.

Watch out for another post, coming to you soon (or not really)! Woo!

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