Posadas, capital of Misiones Province, is an important port of call for travelers to Paraguay and IguazĂş waterfalls. Spreading along the RĂo ParanĂˇ, this city has a vibrant waterfront, bustling center and beautiful views of EncarnaciĂłn, Paraguay, across the river. Perched on hills sloping down towards the river spanned by Puente San Roque GonzĂˇlez, parts of Posadas are reminiscent of San Francisco â€“ though the sultry summer climate of this port is more like the Deep South.
Posadasâ€™ center, Plaza 9 de Julio, is a pleasant place to sit in the cool shade of the manicured jungle vegetation (identified with the common Spanish and botanical names) and watch the kids playing in the fountain spraying up from the ground. Silver fish leap from another spectacular fountain. On one side of the plaza is Iglesia Catedral de Posadas, a two-tone rose church done in plain high-Gothic architecture. This temple, founded in 1876, is dedicated to Saint Joseph. It has an interesting ceiling inset with â€ślaceâ€ť woodwork. The downtown area has broad sidewalks with cafĂ©s and shops.
Four Avenidas frame the downtown district: GuacurarĂ (also called Roque PĂ©rez), Corrientes, SĂˇenz PeĂ±a and Mitre. These broad boulevards have median parks studded with monuments. An oddity is the ruins of the Santa Ana Jesuit mission, moved from their original location 45 kilometers (28 mi) east of the city (Avenida GuacurarĂ and Arrachea).
Near the puerto is the cityâ€™s oldest street, Bajada Vieja, rising up the bluff. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries, it was the commercial district where the MensĂş humped wood and sacks of yerba mate between the warehouses and the port. This was also where these low-paid workers, who came mostly from Corrientes Province and Paraguay, sought comfort in the bars and whorehouses. Few of the original brick buildings yet survive. Bajada Vieja has become an up-scale neighborhood with fine homes. A statue to the MensĂş â€“ a symbol of work, sacrifice and exploitation â€“ is at the top of the street.
Parque RepĂşblica del Paraguay, commonly called Parque Paraguayo, is at the end of Calle Alberdi, near a bluff overlooking the Costanera. Several generations ago, EncarnaciĂłn was destroyed by a storm. In appreciation for all the help it received, the sister city on the other side of the river placed a placard here â€“ and thus the parkâ€™s name. A bit unkempt, the green space has artisan and food kiosks, and the Museo Regional AnĂbal Cambas. Across the street, at the edge of the cliff, is Anfiteatro Manuel Antonio RamĂrez (Alberdi and Roque GonzĂˇlez).
Posadasâ€™ began as one of the many Jesuit missions founded in the region. On March 25, 1615, Padre Roque GonzĂˇlez de Santa Cruz established Nuestra SeĂ±ora de la AnunciaciĂłn de ItapĂşa. However, due to the lack of inhabitants, the reducciĂłn was moved across the river to where modern-day EncarnaciĂłn is. Because of the portâ€™s strategic location on the RĂo ParanĂˇ, it was a hotly disputed area between Argentina, Paraguay and Brasil between 1838-1876. Posadas saw much action during the Guerra de la Triple Alianza (1865-1870), where Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil fought Paraguay in a dispute over control of navigation on the RĂo ParanĂˇ, Paraguayâ€™s only route to the sea. The war was unpopular in Argentina, as it had always had brotherly ties with its northern neighbor. The 1876 peace treaty between these two countries firmly established Posadas as Argentine territory.
Paraguay has left a lasting imprint on the culture of Posadas, especially gastronomically Try sopa paraguaya (a savory pudding made of manioc and cheese) and tererĂ© (cold-infused yerba mate). Paraguayan merchants set up shop in the bustling Mercado La Placita. Indigenous GuaranĂ culture is also much evidenced by the craft markets and cuisine. You may not have the opportunity to try the traditional treat, tambĂş (sautĂ©ed insect larvae), but do try chipa, a bread made from manioc starch and cheese. Visits to traditional Mbya GuaranĂ hamlets may be arranged through the communitiesâ€™ Consejo de Caciques de la NaciĂłn Mbya GuaranĂ (Monday-Friday 7a.m.-8p.m. Rioja 2239, Posadas, Tel.: 44-7634).
Ninety kilometers (54 mi) south of Posadas, on Ruta Nacional 14, is Gobernador Virasoro, one of the most important yerba mate and tea growing areas (www.virasoro.gov.ar). On Plaza San MartĂn a large mural depicts the life of the great Liberator. Near the train station is the Museo HistĂłrico, GeogrĂˇfico y Natural. Establacimiento La MarĂas offers guided tours of its plantation (daily 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1:30-6 p.m. Ruta Nacional 14, Km 739, Tel.: 03756-49-3022, Fax: 49-3081, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, URL: www.lasmarias.com.ar).
Other farms near Posadas open their gates to visitors. Estancia Santa InĂ©s is a century-old, English-styled ranch with its own lodge, chapel and spring-fed, volcanic-rock pool (Ruta Provincial 105, Km 8.5, 20 km / 12 mi from Posadas, Tel.: 03752-43-6194, E-mail: email@example.com, URL: estancia-santaines.com.ar ). Estancia Santa Cecilia is a cattle ranch with an inn and restaurant serving traditional cuisine (Ruta Nacional 12, Km 1366, 30 km / 18 mi from Posadas, Tel.: 03752-49-3018, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, URL: www.santa-cecilia.com.ar).
Within a 300-kilometer (180 mi) radius of Posadas are nine UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Jesuit Missions. East along Ruta Nacional 12 are Santa Ana, Loreto and San Ignacio. The Jesuit reducciĂłn Santos ApĂłstoles Pedro y Pablo is the present-day village of ApĂłstoles, host of the annual Fiesta Nacional de la Yerba Mate (62 km / 38 mi south of Posadas). On the other side of the river, not too far from EncarnaciĂłn, Paraguay, are Trinidad and JesĂşs. Over in Brazil is SĂŁo Miguel das MissĂµes.
(Population: 252,981, Altitude: 124 m / 403 ft, Phone Code: 03752)
Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...