We had a lovely day in Trinidad, walking beneath the palm trees, soaking up the sun, no one around to break the idyllic silence. Ok…so we weren’t living it up in the Caribbean, but Paraguay is almost as good, right?
This Trinidad is actually a small village about 30 minutes outside of Encarnacion on the Paraguayan border and we’d decided to take a day trip there to visit the ruined Jesuit capital of La Santisima Trinidad del Parana. At the time we were staying in Posadas, Argentina, a perfectly pleasant little city to rest in for a couple of days on your way to or from the Iguazu Falls. Posadas and Encarnacion face each other across a huge expanse or river spanned at this point by a single bridge. As with all the best border crossings you just have to hop on a bus with “Paraguay” on the front and 30 minutes later you’re deposited in your intended country with those all important stamps in your passport.
Encarnacion, Paraguay’s third largest city, has a very relaxed feel about it. Whilst it didn’t have the same level of refinement as Posadas, it is meant to be another pleasant place to spend a couple of days. Due to a lack of research on our part we weren’t 100% sure on how much our little expedition would cost us, so we got out around £40 of Guarani from the cash point and headed for the bus terminal.
We were kindly pointed to a rickety old bus by a lady selling ice cream and 40 minutes later to a shout of “Ruinas” we found ourselves dumped at the side of a road next to a dirt track. This seemed to fit the descriptions we’d read online and so we headed off. Within 10 minutes we were standing, alone, at the visitor center, tickets in hand, so we headed into the ruins.
What attracted us most to the ruins of the Jesuit mission was the advice that we’d likely be the only people there and this was indeed the case. Trinidad and the nearby Jesus are some of the least visited UNESCO World Heritage sites there are and in our opinion that makes them all the better. The ruins are pretty extensive and it’s easy to imagine what they would have looked like in all their grandeur. The housing is set around a large square, with stone carvings set above the arches; it must have been impressive in its day. The priests houses were of course even larger and the well preserved floor tiles (different in each house) showed how much effort had gone into the construction of the town.
The star attraction is the remains of the Iglesia Mayor. This once mighty cathedral is of course now down to a few walls, despite this the stone work is wonderful. The carved sections above the doors and around the altar have survived the elements extremely well and we found ourselves walking around, heads heavenwards, just like you’d be in any intact cathedral, trying to take it all in. A few of hours of walking around in the sun, just us and the ruins was a great day trip and we’d recommend anyone in the area to stop for a tranquil afternoon.
Getting back to Encarnacion was as easy as we’d hoped, waving our arms at the first bus we saw back on the main road got us to Encarnation and an hour after that we were back in Argentina. A relaxing and cheap day out. Too cheap in fact as we still had about £33 of our Guarani left…