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Mission Improbable – the Jesuits in the Jungle

Posted by on September 19, 2012

About 400 years ago, someone had a bright idea. Wouldn’t it be cool to head off into the jungles of south america, and build grand complexes where a whole new lifestyle could be tried out. All that is left of this era is a collection of old ruins, patches of ground that the jungle is working hard to take back and in some cases, is winning.

But back in the 1600’s the Jesuits created about 30 settlements in the wildest jungles they could find. The locals were offered a place to live that would save them from the slavers, and the jesuits had a willing group of people keen to get involved in their teachings. These settlements worked so well they ended up getting an expulsion order in 1786. In the settlements they had blacksmiths, bakers, leather workers etc, everything they needed for the community to work well together.

We went to visit one of these missions, and it’s great. Well worth the visit. It is interesting to be called a “Foreigner in general”, and also to be charged more than everyone else. That’s a bit of a trend we’re spotting. We don’t mind too much as we hope to spend more time in the wilder areas with less of these types of “attractions”, but while they are on our doorstep it would be crazy to miss them. We’re in trouble now folks, as Sarah has left the cultural post up to me!

It’s nice to feel loved


The missions covered a large area, at a guess between 50 and 100 acres.


The Argentinians are great people for the out of doors stuff. Loads of people outside milling about.


We did chat with some folks, once they might cop we were speaking english they would love to find out where we were from, what we’re doing etc. I think there is a bit of wanderlust in every south american’s heart. We had a nice chat with an American lady who was their with her Uruguayan cattle farmer husband. Most people  are fascinated as to how we got our truck here, and we are finding it to be a great icebreaker.

Side view of front of the Church.


Beside the church, there was a huge courtyard with rooms in the buildings that lined it. These are in amazingly good shape.


In some places, Nature is taking it all back


The detail in some of the carvings is impressive, especially when you consider the time frame, and what tools they may have had.

Some things are the same the world over, people go places, take pictures and go home.

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