An Old Jesuit Ruin

We got to San Ignacio late morning after an easy five hour bus journey from Puerto Iguazù. It’s got a weird, wild west feel to it but, like, if the wild west didn’t have any people. We checked into the first hotel we came to on account of the fact my guts were trying to escape through my sphincter and it had got to the stage it felt like they’d broken out a crowbar and I couldn’t deal with wandering around looking for a better deal. I’m starting to think I might have IBS. Reckon I’ll ignore that a while longer.

I’d say this photo more or less summed up San Ignacio.

Anyway, it’s a bit of a ghost town. Maybe everyone fucking melted. Guys, it is hot. It is so fucking hot I physically can’t drink enough water to keep up with what I’m losing. I can literally feel the sweat exiting my forehead, beading, and trickling down my face. I don’t know if I can cope with this sort of heat the older I get. When did 27°C with a nice, gentle breeze go out of fashion? What ever happened to the humble happy medium? It’s apparently bastard freezing back home though so I shouldn’t complain really but I’m British so it’s genetically impossible for me not to.

Apparently my new favorite hobby is lizard bothering.

So, these ruins then. The town is tiny and the ruins are in the town so they’re pretty much just going to be a short, sweaty shuffle from where you’re staying. There seemed to be plenty of cafés but they were all closed which I guess is due to the relentless heat, everywhere probably shuts down at 1pm and reopens at 4 or 5pm. The ruins stay open all day though so you’re free to sweat your tits off like a maniac at any time you choose. Obviously we chose the hottest part of the day because you know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen. Or women in this case.

I’m obsessed with the colour of the stone though.

So you pay your admission whilst patting yourself on the back for understanding the rapid, Argentine accent when they ask which country you’re from (nationals of certain countries pay less) before staring in incomprehension at the woman who checks the ticket who rattles off all manner of Spanish and seems to engage the classic British technique of “if you say it louder they’ll understand.” Eventually, after realising she was getting nowhere with us, she pointed at the museum and said, “Museo!” then indicated yonder with the word, “Ruinas!” Okay. Gotcha. Sometimes I think I’m doing so well on my Spanish learning journey. Then there are days like today.

The remains of the buildings the Guaraní people would inhabit.

Anyway! The museum is mostly just information boards in Spanish and English giving you the history of the ruins before you go and put them in your eyeholes. It’s interesting though, but I’d be very keen to hear the story from the point of view of the indigenous people. The Guaraní people were quite happily living their lives in the forest in villages of up to 2000 people with a strong sense of community. They stretched from modern day Asunción in Paraguay to the Atlantic coast, practiced sustainable farming, and used tools made from wood and stone.

The ruins of the church.

Then in the 16th century the Spanish rocked up and, obviously, as colonists are wont to do, enslaved and exploited the indigenous population. The Jesuits set up their missions, also called reductions, and as they were more isolated from colonial society they could take a different approach. They just wanted to bang on about God all the time and set up the missions to do j just that. The Spanish liked the missions because they saw them as reinforcing their power in the forest areas. The Guaraní people… Well I’m not sure how much of a say they had in the matter but the missions were a success because the Jesuits imposed their religion whilst “tolerating local values that they deemed fit and proper.”

Workshops would have been located around the edges of the large squares either side of the church.

The missions offered protection to the Guaraní people from the Spanish, bandeirantes, and neighbouring tribes. Children received an education from the age of seven. The downsides were loss of freedom, having to live with other tribes in a way they were unaccustomed to, and there was always the threat of taxation. Everything went to shit in 1768 anyway when the Jesuits were expelled from South America. The settlements were absorbed into the just created countries of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, and wars finished the buildings off.

After a hot, difficult stroll around the ruins we headed back to the hotel to sit in the air conditioning like normal people, and work out what we were going to do for dinner. It is a weird fucking town. Google says there are a shit tonne of restaurants and some of them are open but this isn’t true. We found one that opened at 8pm though which is a full three hours later than I like to eat dinner and a mere two hours before bedtime.

This is something you see everywhere. They call it milanesa and it’s breadcrumbed chicken or some other manner of dead shit.

We assumed everywhere would open in the morning, close during the obnoxiously hot part of the day, then reopen in the evening but after we’d eaten at this one, solitary restaurant and were heading back through town everything was still closed. Our hotel describes itself as a café bar, it’s got a menu and everything. Was it actually serving food? Was it fuck as like. I honestly have no idea what to make of the odd little town of San Ignacio and I’m quite glad we’re only here for one night. Any longer and we’d end up malnourished puddles of flesh and hair sizzling on the pavements.

Jump to “Useful shit to know…”



San Ignacio Mini, San Ignacio, Misiones, Argentina

Stayed at: Montes Hostería, San Ignacio

Montes Hostería. Comfortable air conditioned room. The pool was drained and looked like it had been for a while which was gutting given the heat. Despite them calling themselves a café, they don’t seem to serve food.

Useful shit to know…

  • It only cost AR$1770 each to get from Puerto Iguazú to San Ignacio.
  • We bought our tickets the day before at the bus station directly from Crucero Del Norte.
  • The ruins cost AR$750 each for foreigners. This includes the small museum too.

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