We were over 2,000km north from Buenos Aires in Iguazu and we had locked ourselves in to renting an apartment in the capital city in a weeks time. The question was, how could we break up the journey to see a few good sites in manageable pieces rather than spending 24hrs on a bus. Doing a little research we came across a small town not overtly on the tourist trail, 5hrs south called Posadas. A manageable little town right on the Rio Parana (River Parana) and which you could stroll on the main esplanade along the river and look out over to the lights of Paraguay on the other side. Posadas was also the main city to view once of the Jesuit mission sites around the area called San Ignacio Mini, some well preserved ruins from the 1700s.
We arrived in Posadas late afternoon to the main bus terminal. Grabbing our bags we crossed the road to find the local municipal bus to take us the additional 6kms into the heart of the city and to our hotel. The local buses whizzed passed branded with red dust and we struggled to read the numbers for the correct bus. Suddenly number 24 pulled up and it was a race to get on with the other peak time commuters. It was still relatively warm outside but a storm was blowing in and we were ready for a nice hot shower. We passed some sweet little plazas and there was a definite feel that the city was much smaller and safer from the others in Brazil.
Jumping off the bus a stop too early, Google maps on Murray’s mobile saved the day once again as we tracked our gps location and walked to the blue dot on the map – Hotel Posadas. Greeted by a middle aged man and a younger assistant behind reception, he began to sell us a tour to the ruins outside the city – the only part we understood in his lengthy conversation all in Spanish was that the tour would cost us a mere $150US per person. We knew we could do it ourselves for less than $20 so declined his gracious offer and checked into our room on the 5th floor – cheeky.
After a comfortable night sleep listening to some heavy rain we jumped up for the usual breakfast built into the room rate. Staying with us at the hotel was a local soccer team who took up all the seating and most of the croissants. But we managed to squeeze in the usual coffee, orange juice, cornflakes and pasty before we ventured back out to the bus station and out to the ruins.
San Ignacio Mini was a mellow little town 1hr from Posadas and was the site for a large, well persevered ruin of the Jusit missions. In 1733 the mission had an indigenous population of nearly 4500 to which the Spanish occupied and mixed Catholicism into the population through the use of dancing, paintings and singing. The ruins looked ancient while in the middle was an enormous red sandstone church embellished with bas-relief sculptures. We were the only people in the site so we roamed through what was left of the church, the living quarters and out to the side cemetery. The entire area was on farmland and a few free horses roamed the grounds. After the scores of tourists at Iguazu, it was a nice change to have an attraction all to yourself.
After a few hours is was time to take the bus back to Posadas, however due to it being a Sunday, we had to wait some time to flag the next down off the freeway. To kill some time we wondered into a local on road restaurant managed by a smiling Argentinean family. We must have disturbed their Sunday lunch as at least 10 members all sat around a table feeding on plates full of freshly cooked beef, loaded with ketchup, mayonnaise and other condiments on the table. How they love their condiments!
Wondering if we should just turn around and walk out it was too late, a young man jumped up and asked us what we would like…again all in Spanish we had no idea until we heard ‘sandwich’. ‘Yes yes..sandwich please..but one with carne and one we queso’…he nodded and went outback to prepare. It was so hard to get anything not with meat and we had schedule a 16hr overnight bus trip the following night so anything meat free from what was a little grungy place would be great. So after a bit, the young man came out with our white bread rolls comprised of cheese, ketchup, mayonnaise and a slab of pork. Great. Funnily enough, Murray enjoyed the meal and as I had just finished trying to separate the cheese from the pork, the bus turned up and we were on our way back into town.
Day two in Posadas and our final day before the long haul bus ride that night we strolled along the waterfront, grabbed some lunch from the happening little center Plaza with its small church and baroque style buildings and checked out. But before doing so we read that the hotel had a tendency to over charge guests. After working out what we should be charged in peso, we were given the bill verbally by a middle aged women at reception. It was at least $40 over and after we asked for a printed version, she waved her arms to let us know the printer was conveniently broken. I took a pen and wrote down what we should be charged converting US $ to Peso and after a few phone calls to the manager and a few glares to us, she agreed that was the price we had to pay. Maybe it was because we never took up that damn tour!
So back out to the bus stop for the long hall. Posada was short and sweet.