Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jesuit Ruins

The day after arriving in Encarnacion on that sweaty bus ride was much cooler and overcast which made it a perfect day to walk around and explore the ruins of a former Jesuit settlement 28 km outside of town. We hopped on a bus crowded with other people and not knowing exactly where to get off the bus. About half an hour into the ride, 2 women got on and we immediately guessed that they were American. Our guess was confirmed when we could hear them speaking English over our shoulder on the bus and apparently they heard us speaking English as well and struck up a conversation. It turned out that they were Peace Corps volunteers who were staying at a hotel with a huge group of other volunteers and celebrating Thanksgiving weekend. They were headed to the ruins too so we had some company and people who knew where to get off the bus which helped.

The ruins are set on top of a nice green hill (as far as I've seen it must be one of about 10 hills in all of Paraguay cuz this is a very flat country) with views for a long way in all directions.
The ruins overall were much larger than we expected them to be and there was definitely more intricate stonework than we had expected as well. While the cathedral wasn't as polished as one in Europe or other large ones in Central America that we've seen are, it was still beautiful and seemed more human because you could still see the chisel marks in the stone.
There were plenty of intricate carvings to check out including these above one of the doors.
These pieces apparently had fallen off of the structure and were displayed in a back room.
The main cathedral was actually much bigger than expected.
This is one of the pulpits on the side of the main cathedral.
This baptismal bath had a date on it which we shall assume is somewhere near the date for construction of the entire cathedral. We don't know for sure because we didn't want to pay for the guide and entrance fee so we just walked into the park past the guards. Nice how you can do that sometimes in Latin America.
So overall it turns out that there is at least one tourist activity worth doing in Paraguay (with a few more possibilities yet to check out) and we would recommend this to anyone who makes their way down here for a visit.

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