Host shares Mexican art and culture through fantastical Airbnb built inside Aztec serpent god
For Host Patricia, Quetzalcoatl’s Nest is not just a nice place to stay; it’s a bridge between people and cultures
Patricia’s face lights up as she recounts her childhood, playing with other kids in the hills around Naucalpan de Juarez, a lush, forested area just west of Mexico City that’s dotted with caves, sculpted by streams and canyons, and teeming with wildlife. Now, she proudly serves as tour guide and host to a slice of Naucalpan that’s been both preserved and deeply transformed into a surreal community and dreamy tribute to Mexican art and culture.
“I love to share this place because I'm proud of it,” Patricia says. “I don't want to keep it just for myself, or for my neighbors. I think it's something worthy to be seen and felt and lived.”
Sharing a favorite corner of the world with others is a motivation that unites scores of Airbnb hosts. Yet few get to share a place of such haunting beauty as Patricia’s Quetzalcoatl’s Nest. Named after a half-bird-half-serpent god revered by the Aztecs, it’s a combination of exotic park and housing complex built inside a giant, intricately decorated, and brightly colored sculpture that snakes in and out of the landscape. It’s a masterpiece designed by Javier Senosiain, the Mexican architect who pioneered this beautiful“organic architecture” style.
Patricia’s home is one of 10 in the complex and is the only one available on Airbnb. It’s a roomy, 5-bedroom flat with rounded windows, curved ceilings, and other quirky architectural features built inside the belly of the snake. The modern decor and fixtures lend the place an airy feel that’s surprisingly fitting to its primal surroundings.
Patricia, Quetzalcoatl’s Nest
Patricia, Quetzalcoatl’s Nest
The idea to become a full-time host came to Patricia from one of her sisters, who had previously listed a house on Airbnb. And it dovetailed with Patricia’s desire to leave the bustle and chaos of Mexico City for a place that was green and peaceful. Since 2015, she’s embraced her role with a singular zeal.
Patricia typically greets guests herself and leads them toward her listing through an opening into the side of the snake. She cherishes the expressions of awe from guests in different languages as they become familiar with their surroundings—“wows” and “oohs” and “ooh la las.” “Although they’ve seen photos, they never expect the size of the building and the nature around it, the silence, and the peace that they will feel,” she says.
Patricia loves offering her guests a tour of the property. And for many, it becomes one of the highlights of their stay at Quetzalcoatl’s Nest. The tour can easily turn into a 3-to-4 hour adventure if the guests are up for it. There’s a lot to see in the nearly 40-acre property that’s partly landscaped and partly in its natural state. And Patricia’s pace is deliberately slow.
She’ll point to the snake’s mouth built around a natural cave, urge guests to observe the different flowers and trees, notice the bright colors of the leaves, the sounds of the forest, and the variety of textures, both natural and man-made. “Sometimes I invite them to walk barefoot on the grass and feel this space,” she says.
On every tour, she’ll talk about the Huichol, indigenous people from the central mountains of Mexico, who are known for their colorful jewelry and beaded art. “The snake head is made with a lot of Huichol influence,” Patricia says.
Colorful ceramic circles encrusted in the head, eyes, and fangs of the snake, as well as many other details of Senosiain’s fantastical structure, are inspired by Huichol art. “One of the things we wanted to imprint in this place is the color of Mexico,” Patricia adds.
Patricia also teaches guests about the medicinal plants on the property and their uses by the Huichol and others. If she feels guests are open to it, she might invite them to join her in a meditation at the end of the tour. Ultimately, what drives her is a desire to share Mexico’s art, culture, and natural beauty, along with experiences and human connection.
“I have realized that although my guests might be Chinese, Mexican, Spanish, Australian or anything else, we all have feelings, we all love, we’re all human,” she says. People may look different, she adds, “but in the inside, we’re very similar.”
She hopes through their immersion in nature, Mexican culture, and their stay inside Quetzalcoatl’s Nest, her guests will leave transformed. “What I love about hosting and being in contact with my guests is that they have not just a trip, that they have an experience, and that experience is very significant for them,” she says. “Vacation is like a pause, and I would like to share with them that pause to go into themselves and find what they want, who they are.”