To split up the trip from Iguazu to Salta I decided to stop in Posadas, capital of the Missiones region. Named so because of the Jesuit missions that used to exist in that area. I arrived late at night and picked the hostal closest to the bus station. It turned out to be a great option. The owner of the hostel happened to also be a baker/cook for the bakery next door. Lovely smells permeated through the entire hostel and there was always something interesting cooking. In addition the lady of the house was always around and had time to spare for a short chat. My guide book said that the best maintained ones are in Paraguay, so I had the plan to cross over into Paraguay that morning. However, since I was slept in, this was not an option anymore.

Instead I went to the ruins of San Ignacio. It turned out to be a great choice. While there is not much left standing of the mission itself, the panels distributed all over the site are very informative and give a good overview of how life used to be.

The Jesuit missions stand out because they did not try to force the indigenous population to adapt to the Spanish way of life, but rather the Jesuits adapted in large parts to the way of life of the guarani. Case in point, the official language was Guarani and not Spanish in the missions. Of course there were attempt to convert the tribes to Christianity, but without ultimatums. The tribes had their own council which took decisions and they benefited from living inside the mission as they were protected from robbers and more.

The Jesuit missions actually were so progressive, the Spanish crown soon noticed this and voiced their displeasure. Since the mission failed to comply with the demands of the Spanish crown and make the tribes into good catholic subjects of the Spanish crown, the Jesuit missions where disbanded and left abandoned in the 18th century. Today there is only a few walls and stones left, showing what once used to be. The ruins are not the main point of interest here, but the way of life they used to have absolutely made it worth a visit for me.


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