San Ignacio Miní was another gem we stumbled upon thanks to Lonely Planet. Seconds after our bus from Foz left us at the town’s gates, we were approached by the “Minister of Tourism”, a friendly Guarani man named Lomo. He directed us to “Hostel Aventura”, but not before giving us his entire life story, along with his cell number and directions to his house, just in case we had any questions.

The Jesuit ruins are the major attraction in this town; we also heard that there was a nightly ‘light and sound’ show. I imagined a dull narrator speaking through tinny speakers and cheap flood-lights but we were in for a big surprise.

I have been on tours of the Colisseum, the Acropolis and Chichen Itza, among others, but none were able to communicate the lifestyle of their ancient inhabitants as well as this spectacle in San Ignacio. I won’t go into detail, because I think the experience was heightened by low expectations. Suffice it to say, if given the chance, you should go.

Travelling without a set Itinerary means you occasionally miss out on cool events, and we constantly hear “Oh, you should have come here yesterday!”, or “Man, if you had only been here last week!”, but we hit San Ignacio right on the button. We arrived on the night of the provincial Carnival as bus loads of people streamed in from all over Misiones. We watched the parade and, as the samba school passed, I started filming. A few seconds later, I stopped filming. I felt discomforted by how young these scantily clad samba dancers were. I’m now considering deleting the video, in fear that I may suffer the same fate of a particular Maritime Archbishop. Calina’s mind was going wild with gender analyses of this parade.

The next day was spent recuperating at Hostel Aventura. For 10 bucks a night the four of us shared a dorm room, swam in a very clean pool and enjoyed the games room (Billiards, Foosball and Ping Pong). The only bad part was cooking in the kitchen which will give us nightmares for the rest of the trip. (Or maybe we are just becoming Hostel-Snobs)

The next day Calina and I biked to a provincial park in town and found great views of the Rio Paraná and encountered tons of unique butterflies and a plethora of giant spiders, dangling in our faces.

At another tourism kiosk, we met a friendly guy named Michoil who suggested a cool stop along our northern route to Bolivia. He told us about Colonia Carlos Pellegrini, a small town in the Esteros de Ibera marshlands. He hooked us up with a package that included a 4×4 ride to the town from Virasoro (this road is too muddy for busses), two nights accommodations (modest breakfast included), a boat tour and a walking tour for 335 pesos ($90 USD). It was an awesome deal that we couldn’t pass up, although we decided to delay our departure by two days to wait for a better weather forecast. This was a very good idea, as our trip would have sucked in the rain.

We all really liked San Ignacio, and I think I am turning Calina into a ‘small-town’ girl or, more precisely, a South American, ‘small-town’ girl.