Mission to San Ignacio

Saturday, July 03, 2010

After the painless (aside from the price of the taxi!) border crossing from Salto, Uruguay back into Argentina I guess I expected more. More than to be be dumped under an underpass with an encouraging pat on the shoulder and "good luck" at 9 at night to wait for a bus that should come through around 10:30. But that's what happened. There was a police checkstop set up there, though for what purpose I couldn't gather as they seemed to let most pass without a blink. I went and told them I was supposed to get on a Kurtz bus at 10:30 for San Ignacio and could they please stop it? A grunt that I chose to mean yes. And then I asked where I could wait, hoping to be invited in to the trailer and away from the pesky mosquitoes already buzzing around here. They pointed me instead to a patch of gravel off the shoulder 20m or so away from where they were 'working'. So I sat outside for almost two hours in the dark watching and getting up from my improvised backpack-seat on the gravel at any set of headlights that looked promising. The police had abandoned their post around 10 leaving me even more uncertain that my bus would stop. Finally I saw the bus and thought I could make out Kurtz and he was already getting ready slowing down so I had nothing to worry about but threw my backpack in the luggage compartment and hopped aboard for my overnight 9 hour trip to San Ignacio de Mini.

I arrived around 7 AM and after leaving my backpack at the friendly HI hostel here (and washing up) I went to explore the ruins of the nearby Jesuit Mission which were my reason for this stopover. I almost didn't do it but I was glad I did; I beat the crowds that stay in nearby Posada and watched the crumbling red sandstone facade glow in the morning light for a while before I remembered my camera. The whole place is laid out in a
cross pattern with the church at the top of the cross and residences, pantries, and so on on either side. I wandered the old church ruins and struggled at times to take photos around the restorative infrastructure. One guard noticed my plight and brought me into a restricted area to get what he thought was the best angle for the door (and he was right). It was a nice morning with just me and the birds chirping and the mission being slowly overgrown with trees and vines and I just wandered aimlessly around enjoying the bit of peace after the week's hectic pace until the tour groups started to pour in. That I took as my cue to exit and went to a nearby restaurant where I sat at the table beside a French couple and we had some beer, snacks, and watched the Argentina-Holland quarter-final.

It was a sad day for Argentina as Holland kept increasing their score one goal at a time and a frustrating day as the Holland players really poured on the acting skills. WHY is there not a penalty for clear fakery. My thought is that if you delay the game, you're out of the game. So feel free to lay there and pretend to be hurt until you get the call you want from the ref; you can miraculously hop back to life as soon as the judgement is made but you will hop to life on the sidelines. Better yet, I think if you fake an injury someone - preferably me - should be allowed to inflict that actual injury upon you. It really destroys what is otherwise a great sport. The first and second goals (Holland, Argentina) were both rockets from about 30m out that clocked in around 100 km/h and it seemed like it would be a good game until Argentina gave up two more goals and lost any ambition whatsoever. But there can be no controversy: Argentina lost an embarrassing defeat to the Dutch and only one team is left to represent South America... Uruguay. I got on the next bus after the game, still wearing my Messi jersey and rode the five hours to somewhere that could make the most passionate soccer fan smile on a day like this. I was heading to Iguazu falls, which really is the reason I'm here in South America at all: one friend's photo of this place inspired me to investigate this part of the world and spawned this whole trip. I can't convey my excitement to be arriving finally at this second-last milestone of my trip.


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