Traveldiaries: 2013-11-22_Paraguay
2013-11-22_Paraguay
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Departure
James Bond by 6pm already got crowded on the subte and headed to the Retiro bus terminal. Here met with Mariann, the other traveller of the journey, so the use of plurals not even now have any reference to the royal we.

The bus left at 8:45pm, approximate arrival at 9:15am (12:30 hours of ride) and one way ticket costs 644ARS. There was a slight brainstorming during the booking of the tickets as generally there are 4 categories of comfort on the buses:
  • suite: seats can be reclined about 180 degrees
  • comfort (cama): seats can be reclined about 150 degrees
  • semi-comfort (semicama): seats can be reclined about 130 degrees
  • common (común): seats can be reclined about 120 degrees
Alright, it sounds great but what's the cruel reality? Which one should I use? The companies are immediately helpful, for longer rides they offer semicama or cama categories; this ride was cama. From the second point of view the height of the passenger can be a factor of decision: around 190 cm height your legs fit if you angle them in 90 degrees or you can make them straight by siting on the bottom of the backrest. After the 8-9. hours you hold out your right leg to the corridor. Around the end of the tenth hour you suddenly wake up with an agonizing scream and cold sweat, grabbing your left leg: will you ever be able to use it again?!?!

Astonishing but it was only a joke. With moving back and forth you can make and survive it. The financial differences are about 100-200 pesos between the categories, which may not be an item for tourists. On the other hand I'd rather change to a flight if a journey lasted more than 20 hours (recommendation for the Viking soldiers of Thor and Odin), then reach the local sights with a shorter bus ride. Fortunately there's space under the leg compartment, thus the backpacks prepared for 3 days leisurely fit, we don't even have to spend time with the luggage. You get dinner as well before the nightly rides: some salad, meat with rice and a 3dl wine; whichever the passenger prefers it can be red or white. Red, Trapiche Alaris. During the meal the bus hasted toward north in the dark Argentine night.

Extra information for the traveldiary. As first here's the diary entry, designed into the cute.

Secondly what I mentioned, this travel was historical, even a movie was shot. Not like that. :P See the The Mission movie from 1986 with Robert de Niro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson, with the great score by Ennio Morricone. The content is exactly about the sights of the travel, the missions of the Jesuits in South America in the 18. century, especially about the converting the Guaraní to Christianity.

If you have the movie on the shelf or browse through this page, then it's worthwhile to watch it before-after the reading of the traveldiary.

Probably it's better after, as the movie is more about the end of them missions and their abolishment.
Arrival to San Ignacio
Praising and giving respect, the bus arrived with great punctuality at 9:20am to San Ignacio. San Ignacio was similar like Punta del Este in Uruguay: the number of people got off from the bus was minimal - only the two of us - the rest moved along toward the Iguazu Falls.

It's not quite gentlemanish to dance on the itinerary, time and wallet of other people but it's somewhat interesting many just rushes forward next to such historical memorials unnoticedly. Of course Iguazu is Iguazu but even if they spare only 1 day to this region (what's directly on the way anyway), then they'll leave Argentina with +1 memories and more stories can be told to the people at home.
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The church of Ignatius of Loyola which has an immediately in the beginning location so the sights of the journey can be introduced perfectly.

God's ways are unpredictable
The foundation of the Catholic religious congregation Society of Jesus belongs to Ignatius of Loyola, but for the sake of simplicity let's just call them as Jesuits.

During the spring of 1481 Ignatius of Loyola (original name: Iñigo López de Loyola) was born into the Basque noble family called de Loyola. His adolescence and younghood didn't show any signs that later he would be consecrated: his greatest interests were weapons, he loved to fight and didn't hide his dagger, sword or opinion which threesome often carried him into series of duels.

At the age of 17 he joined the army and 13 years later the life of the youngest thirteenth child of the de Loyola house had changed forever. The Italian War in 1521 happened between 1521 and 1526, where France fought against the papal states. The French army attacked Pamplona and on the 20th of May 1521 a cannonball mangled Ignatius' one leg and fractured the other.

The recovery was slow and painful, not only because the that time unknown analgesic but the future projected the fate that Ignatius of Loyola won't ever be able continue his career in the army. During this time Ignatius read a lot of books and principally the Vita Christi (The Life of Christ) by Ludolph of Saxony captured his imagination: the fate and mission of his life had been illuminated, he left the carnal life of being a soldier to offer his earthly services to the Lord.

In the March of 1522 he went on pilgrimage to the Montserrat mountain where the Virgin Mary and the little Jesus appeared in front of him. Then he wandered to Manresa and among his daily prayers and ascetic life he laid down the basic of his Spiritual Exercises book what's still the most important book of the Jesuits and for the Catholic faith nowadays.

Years went by, at some time his new-age interpretation and practice of the religion raised even the ears of the Spanish Inquisition (easy ball, won't put a link here) but since Ignatius of Loyola's sermons and teachings didn't offend the authority of the Church, further it accepts the Pope as the mundane leader of the order, they released him without further troubling and he could continue his religious mission.

The order of the Jesuits was founded semi-officially on the 15th of August 1534 when Ignatius of Loyola and his 6 companions made a pact. The order officially started on the 27th of September 1540 when Pope Paul III approved their canon.
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Walking in San Ignacio.
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The cheating cashiers of San Ignacio Miní
So, Hungarians, tell me. If, being Hungarian but you still have/had to buy an entrance ticket at the Fisherman Bastion just to have a look toward Pest, are you going to be flustered? You're doing it right!

Argentina neither goes without the weasel cheaters, colubrine errants and scoundrel profiteers, lo and behold:

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It's a pretty ticket, what's your problem with it? There are different kind of residency permits in Argentina but to narrow the subject, both adventurers have-had temporary residency. There are only two more Argentine stuff, the permanent residency and the citizenship. What does the temporary residency mean? You have to extend it annually, otherwise all rights and obligations are the same like with the other ones (minus the obligation to vote and other minorities).

But. Referring to some law, filling his own pockets cashier said the temporary residency doesn't mean anything, and he was willing to sell only a 70 peso for foreigners ticket.

Anno, back when I was only a tenderfoot DNI person at the Perito Moreno glacier, I got the discount without questions, and I still haven't found any relevant law or experienced similar things in other places. Not the insurmountable 20 pesos would cause the stir but we're talking about principles, right.

Ultimately no complaint was made but the moral victory later on the day was ours anyway. By the way the ticket inspector woman only shook her shoulders and came with the usual sentence: You know, the Argentine economy! That, and please put down the marmalade and the hamster because it won't end well.

The moral of the story. Consult the current rulings for yourself, but:
  • if an agency/owner tells you that longer rentals (2+ months) must be paid in one installment == a scoundrel avivada is standing in front of you, flip a middle finger into the face and leave.
  • if a cashier in museums, national parks or any place of public treasures wants to make you to pay a ticket for foreigners just because you have a temporary residency == a scoundrel avivada is standing in front of you. If you don't want to visit the place then flip a middle finger into the face and leave. If you want to enter, then make a rumble and ask for the boss. If it still doesn't work, then pay the full price, then flip a middle finger into the face.
Short history of the Jesuit missions and the museum
Since the inception of the order, the Jesuit reductions have worked in each corner of the Earth, have spread the glory of the Lord: they set their feet in South American during the 17th century. The idea was originated to the Spanish Empire who decided it's better for everyone if the Tupi and Guaraní Amerindians get to know the European life, will be baptized and turn into a sound and square taxpayer citizens.

Compared to the dates of the discovery of the New World (1492) the Jesuits sailed the sea only by 1570. The primary site of their project was located in the current Paraguay, but later many reductions were built in Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil too.

The Jesuit missions started to blossom in 1609 when Reginaldo de Lizárraga the Bishop of Paraguay requested missionaries from the Spanish Empire. Philip III, the king of Spain and governor of Asunción agreed and made a contract with the Jesuits: until that time the natives lived next to the Paraná River separated from the Crown and Spanish hands, so the task of the reductions was to melt them into the hands of the European authorities and teach them the European system of values.

You can visualize the most important and biggest reductions here.
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San Ignacio Miní
The story of San Ignacio Miní started around 1611, when the Jesuits José Cataldino and Simón Maceta founded the mission in the region of Guayrá (that time, now it's Paraguay and the Paraná state in Brazil). Since this region was relentlessly attacked by the Bandeirantes (mainland Portuguese-Brazil pirates who made their fortune out of slavery) groups, the reduction continuously had to fight with them until they decided to move in 1632 and finally in 1696 stopped at the current location. The name was given in 1613 by Roque González de Santa Cruz Jesuit priest: San Ignacio Miní, where miní means smaller in Guaraní language - to distinguish themselves from the other reduction with greater prestige San Ignacio Guazú; guazú means big, great.

In its most fruitful days, about 3,000 Amerindian natives lived in the reduction with the Jesuits and their income was based on handmade products. The layout of the mission was similar to any of the others: a church, a cabildo (pre-colonial town hall), a cemetery, a monastery, school and houses were built around the huge main square.

When the Jesuits were suppressed from Europe in 1767, one year later the priests left the reduction and during the following years the natives and the bandeirantes groups destroyed the buildings.

The buildings of Baroque Guaraní style were discovered in 1897 again under the massive amount of trees and plants, but received real publicity only in 1903 when the Argentine writer and journalist Leopoldo Lugones started an exploration.

San Ignacio Miní is one of the reductions still in good shape in Argentina; further because of its remarkable history and significance, in 1983 the reduction was elected to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
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The Main church was built by the plans of an Italian priest Juan Bressanelli: 74 meters long, 24 meters wide. During its construction the very prominent red sandstone from the region was used and although it's considered as a weak material yet the walls of the church still stand in place after more than 200 years.

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Back to the bus
We walked back to the church because as always, in every smaller city, town and settlements of the whole world, the bus stop can be found next to the church.

Plot twist: we missed the bus, ran away in front of our eyes but we weren't sad as it came out it would be the wrong direction anyway. From a near little shop we even got one-one small bag filled with red sand.
For the biggest happiness of James Bond, the plastic bag got ripped off on the next day in Paraguay thus made his toiletry completely red...I mean the special pen filled with high capacity tranquilizer spray plus smoke shots and the nuclear bomb defusal kit!
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Strolling to the bus terminal, then back to the information box (to the right in the picture) and we learned the information that indirect buses to Loreto, our next reduction leave from the terminal.

Lucky us, the bus arrived in 15 minutes and we headed out.
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Loreto
At the entrance, exclusively 2 people alighted from the bus, in the middle of nothing. You have to walk from this point, 3 kilometers but this didn't offer anything fascinating so we arrived without obstacles to the Loreto; didn't even meet bloodthirsty mules which I had to evade in the mountains of North Argentina.
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The trademark of the region, the red sand.
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Nuestra Señora de Loreto
The Jesuits of current days welcomed us around 2 o' clock in the afternoon, they're totally helpful, we threw down the backpacks and one of them started to talk about the history of the reduction and its present: they're continuously working on digging out the buildings from the sand and soil, secondly disentangle from the prison of the plants. When the excavations will finish, it'll be as pretty as the San Ignacio Miní.

There's an another Loreto but it's in the Czech Republic and by my memories they don't have too much relation to the Jesuits. Still, worthwhile to visit.
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The first reduction in Guayrá
Alas I didn't find an exact date, but the first mission was established in 1610 in San Ignacio de Guazú in the nowadays Paraguay, then the Nuestra Señora de Loreto again was established in 1610 by the Jesuit priests Cataldino, Mazeta and Montoya. Thus it's hard to decide which one was the indeed first Jesuit mission on these lands and at this time; but surely, this one was the first in the current Argentina.

Regardless to first or second, Loreto surely had the zest. The Jesuits not only built up and oversaw the reduction but they learned the language of the Guaraní (Tupi, Guaraní, two of the most widely used) and developed the technique how it's possible to write in these languages through the Roman alphabet. They had a press too, where Spanish and Latin religious books were printed, the Bible and other books were translated into the Amerindian languages, plus they wrote dictionaries too.

Likewise to San Ignacio Miní, the history of the reduction ended when the Jesuits left the South American reductions in 1767, from this point the destruction and the power of the Nature seized the control over the buildings. In 1983 Loreto as well found its page on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage.
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Antonio Ruiz de Montoya's grave
He was a Peruvian Jesuit priest (1585-1652), his name was mentioned above because he had an important role in the Jesuit reductions.

If Thomas Bridges is the language professor of the Yámana-English languages, then Montoya is the Guaraní-Spanish equivalent. His book with the name Tesoro de la lengua guaraní - The Treasures of the Guaraní language (you can read it here, 830 pages) was published in 1639; he wrote many other books about the missions and the language.

Montoya wasn't only a language professional but an active and busy priest: he baptized about 100,000 Guaraní people and by 1620 he was one of the leaders of the missions. His name is connected to other actions as well, for example when the bandeirantes from São Paulo threatended the reductions in 1631, he and Mazeta helped 15,000 Christian natives to flee to Paraguay thus saved them.
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If I'm not mistaken, the walls belong to the old church and the altar was in that direction.
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The cemetery.
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Suffocating plants.
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The Chapel of The Virgin Mary in Loreto.
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One hour sitting-a-round because the bus arrived at 4pm; no need to walk back to the entrance but it'll come up to the Loreto.
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The sculpture of José de San Martín.
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Back to the city
At 4:15pm the bus arrived and we continued our way to Santa Ana, our daily third Jesuit reduction in Argentina.
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The interior of a local bus in Misiones. You're welcome.
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Maybe it's the longitude and/or latitude but the clouds herearound are quite dominant.
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Nuestra Señora de Santa Ana
The bus successfully took us to Santa Ana yet the location of the remains still left unanswered questions. After some local investigations we got the GPS-like accuracy: 600 meters straight forward on the road, then turn left, then 300 meters straight again. A little help for the future travellers: if you open the below photo on Google Maps, then the usual red arrow leads to the ruins of Santa Ana. Look more to the top, at the T-shaped intersection you can find the bus stop approximately.

So we strolled down next to the highway - pay attention to the trucks, turned to the left (there's a mate factory, you have to turn to left there) and at the end of the small hill the ruins of Santa Ana were illuminated in our eyes under the late afternoon rays of the sunset.

OUR TICKET, PURCHASED AS FOREIGNERS was valid here, just as a gossip we told the tale in San Ignacio Miní when one man replied: Who was the cashier? A man with glasses? Yup. Based on his face, nodding and the expression of the other colleagues we realized this cashier is infamous. Hopefully somebody will smack his fingers with a metal ferule.

In a similar fashion to Loreto, you can find a small room here with a map, various objects are exhibited and the guy really started the story. What we didn't expect, I mean yes we were happy because he explained the things very well, he clearly showed his knowledge and interest in the subject - but with the luggage on our back didn't imagine a sudden 30 minutes long lecture.

But what the heck, we got to know many interesting things about the life of the Guaraní, for instance I learned here the history of the tereré. What's tereré? The tereré starts in the same manner as the mate: you put the yerba into the mate but you don't pour hot but cold water, or nowadays it can be some juice as well. The story goes the natives unfolded the tereré when they realized that the fire to boil the water can be easily seen during the night by the bandeirantes and other unwanted enemies. So during nighttime they mixed the yerba with cold water and they still could pursue the ritual of the mate drinking.

Further we heard a small information, although I don't know if I should write it down without threatening myself with hot mate onto my neck. The guy said More than 90% of the visitors come here from the far Europe, while the Argentines don't know or care they have World Heritages in the region, and the locals see only a cemetery in the stones.

Boys and girls: quite surely you often visit Iguazu Falls (I know you do, most of the Argentine children make their first steps at the Iguazu Falls) and if you travel on the land, these sights are quite directly not just on but obtrusively in the way. If you only spare 1 or 1.5 days to discover these places too, you'll greatly extend the sensitivity to history.

Noting the cemetery is important because during the later times after the reductions, the locals were buried into the same place for centuries. A new cemetery was built only when UNESCO interjected, saying a historical location must not be mixed with the newer times. Understandable.
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The cemetery with some new graves.
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Dwelling or school.
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Vegetable garden.
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Although we didn't see similar signs of excavations what Loreto had, but likely this reduction is under discovery as well since outside of the remains of the main church, most of the other ruins are still under the earth and the plants.
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Back to Posadas
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Crossing the border
At some o' clock and dontknow minutes we returned to Posadas and after some questioning figured out the international bus between Argentina and Paraguay will depart from the 6 and 7 stops. Right after we got there a bus arrived and indeed, after paying 10ARS per head the we left to Encarnación.

The bus made extensive and lengthy rounds in Posadas, the driver filled the line completely. Finally we reached the border, everybody rushed down, stood in the queue to get the exit stamp on the Argentine side. My passport was handled by a guy equipped with earphones and chewing gum (that's how he didn't notice ze expiración of ze DNI).

Then everybody returned to the bus what slowly rolled rolled on the bridge to the Paraguayan side. We left the bus to have the entry (all the other people looked like Argentines or Paraguayans) but all the three illuminated offices were empty. No border officers were around, on the other hand for our misfortune the bus started to leave. We ran back and jumped up on the move - had no idea when, if an another one will come.

On the way we assured each other, then we don't have an entry stamp? Since by this time we were already circling on the dark streets of Encarnación, it wouldn't make too much sense to worry. The bus went around on the streets and I finally learned from the driver that due to some roadblock the streets are different. No reason to be alarmed, we're in the direction and after the help of some locals we finally arrived to the Kerana Hostel step by step. I don't recall the price of the accommodation, only some memories that the ARS was exchanged into PYG through some strange rates - Paraguayan Guaraní what we didn't have by that time yet.

After we threw down the backpacks, a little walk and late dinner for European ears at 10:10pm in the Vicio's restaurant: a home-made lomito hamburger (25,000PYG) and a beer (12,000PYG).

Then back to the accommodation, meanwhile an another guest arrived who was an Italian guy carrying a suitcase for someone as a favour. Hmm. His honesty was really strange. The later responses to completely neutral questions were Why are you interested? Never saw him again.
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