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JJ Castelli

From Roque Sáenz Peña, Ruta Nacional 95 heads north to Ruta Provincial 9 and JJ Castelli. The flatland is occasionally broken by farm fields, cattle pastures and the splash of a small lagoon.



Upon entering Castelli, the archway welcomes visitors to the Portal del Impenetrable—and this is precisely what this town is: the gateway in the Chaco’s El Impenetrable. From Castelli, one road goes north to Villa Río Bermejito on the northeast edge of the region and another highway west to Misión Nueva Pompeya and other settlements in its interior.



This part of the Chaco plains were inhabited for many moons by the Q’om and Wichí indigenous peoples. The first white colonists came from Salta in 1910. At the hand of these newcomers, cotton bloomed across this landscape between 1919 and 1923. Castelli town began as a settlement of some 40 families raising cattle. Once the Resistencia-Roque Sáenz Peña railroad was completed, 300 Russian-German families made their ways the last hundred kilometers to make this home. Later, other Eastern and Central Europeans came. The town was officially founded October 3, 1936 and named for Juan José Castelli, a revolutionary in Argentina’s fight for independence from Spain. Three years later, the Ferrocarril Central Norte Argentino stretched from Sáenz Peña to Castelli.



The modern city sprawls across the Chaco plains. The Plaza San Martín has a large center space and islands of trees providing scant shade surrounding an obelisk dedicated to the first European settlers here. On one side of the square is Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Valle, a modern brick church with a round bell tower on one corner. A few blocks away is the basic Museo Histórico Regional (irregular hours. 400-block of Rivadavia).



There isn’t much to do in JJ Castelli, except to stock up on provisions before going into El Impenetrable. This is the last place with ATMs and a good selection of supplies. It is also from where buses to Misión Nueva Pompeya and El Sauzalito depart.



(Altitude: 103 m / 338 ft, Population: 24,333, Phone Code: 03732)



Services



Civil offices are the Municipalidad (Monday-Friday 6:30 a.m.-noon) and police (Sarmiento and 25 de Mayo). Both banks have ATMs, though may be out of cash Friday-Sunday: Nuevo Banco del Chaco (Sarmiento and Vásquez, near the main plaza; another ATM at Güemes and Sarmiento), Banco de la Nación (Sarmiento and Belgrano; also Western Union agent). Other services include post office (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 4-7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-noon), Internet, Hospital Martín Miguel de Güemes (Av. Güemes, 1 block west of Av. Héroes de Malvinas, Tel.: 47-1050) and several pharmacies.



Guides



Carlos Schumann (San Martín 500, Tel.: 47-1073 / 47-1363 / 1546-8128, E-mail: ecoturchaco@yahoo.com.ar, URL: www.ecoturchaco.com.ar)—alternative adventure tours to El Impenetrable, Teuco, Villa Río Bermejito



Hotels



Hotel Schreiber (Güemes 436, Tel.: 47-1231)—single $14-17, double $23-26



Hotel Guc (Güemes 534, Tel.: 47-1217)—single $17, double $29



Hotel Florencia (San Martín 840, Tel.: 47-1426 / 1557-6841)—single $23, double $40



Restaurants



Some hotels have their own diners. The town has a few autoservicio supermarkets.



Club del Progreso-Restaurant Diony’s (Vásquez, between San Martín and Sarmiento)



Confitería Cisne (San Martín, between Lauth and Salta, Tel.: 45-9369)



Restaurant-Bar 12 Caras (Sargento Cabral and San Martín)

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Other places nearby JJ Castelli: Misión Nueva Pompeya, Villa Río Bermejito , Fuerte Esperanza and El Sauzalito .







By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

15 Aug 2011

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