Jesuit Missions

Trip Start Jul 02, 2009
Trip End Jun 28, 2010

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Flag of Paraguay  ,
Thursday, July 23, 2009

Some of you may remember a film called The Mission which featured Jeremy Irons indulging in a totally pointless rock-climbing exercise at  Iguaçu Falls.  I'm actually old enough to have seen (at a cinema in Minneapolis with a truly awesome sound system) the film when it was first released in 1986 so I'd known for some time that the Jesuits had been active in this part of South America in colonial times.  Having been educated (but never caned) by Holy Ghost Fathers in Port of Spain I'd always been somewhat awed by the even more hard core Jesuits although I've only ever met one (bizarrely an Australian with a savage square cut).   I was still finalising arrangements for the Chaco patrol so I headed south to Encarnación (birthplace of Stroessner and 5-6 hours by bus from Asunción) to visit the premier Jesuit Missions in Paraguay.

The ruins of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue are easily accessible on a day trip from Encarnación using public transport.  I stopped first at Trinidad which is closer to Encarnación and it was a gorgeous, almost cloudless day (in contrast to Asunción where it had been pissing down and night time temperatures were dipping to zero).  Jesus is a bit further down the road and on the other side and you need to take a local bus to get there. Trinidad is also the larger site although I liked Jesus more.

There were a few other visitors at Trinidad and I chatted for a while with a friendly lady who had been born in Colombia and brought up in Equador. In contrast there was absolutely nobody else at Jesus except for two people who turned up just as I was leaving.  It's not everyday that one gets the exclusive use of a UNESCO world heritage site!  One particularly welcoming aspect of Jesus was an orange tree with picker that said, 'Help yourself!', which is exactly what I did.

I also took some pics in Encarnación.  The sunset came out reasonably well and 'Ironic Internet' was amusing.   I wandered down the river and observed what appeared to be some sort of dredging operation which reminded me life in Pharma where I used to search for pharmaceutical leads in output from high throughput screens.  The number four seat (front on top deck) provided a few opportunities for pics on the ride back to Asunción.



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