Buenos Aires is the starting point—and the flashpoint—of Argentine history. Time has transformed, if not erased, the colonial quarters of Monserrat and San Telmo, but it’s the epic of independence, the era of immigration and excess, the populism of the Peróns, and the ruthless 1976–1983 dictatorship that helped create contemporary Argentina.Destination:Activities:
Early Argentine art is derivative, but today’s Buenos Aires is the heart of a vigorous contemporary painting, sculpture, and multimedia scene. The city has only a handful of late colonial constructions around the Plaza de Mayo.
Argentina’s finest colonial art and architecture survives in the northwest, on an axis that runs south from Jujuy and Salta through Tucumán and Córdoba. Contrasting with Mesopotamia’s verdant subtropical vegetation, bright red sandstone blocks distinguish Mesopotamia’s colonial Jesuit missions; Guaraní artisans crafted the elaborate adornments.Destination:Activities:
Immediately across the Paraná from Posadas via the international bridge, the Paraguayan city of Encarnación barely merits a visit in its own right (though it’s morbidly fascinating to see the Yacyretá’s rising waters slowly submerge its historic downtown). It’s well worth crossing the border, though, to see the nearby Paraguayan Jesuit missions of Trinidad and Jesús de Tavarangue.
Both Trinidad and Jesús were relative latecomers in the Jesuit empire—Jesús, in fact, was still under construction when Carlos III expelled the Jesuits in 1767. Trinidad dates from 1706, but took more than five decades to its completion in 1760—only seven years before the Jesuits’ departure.Destination:Activities:
From Posadas, undulating RN 12 climbs and dips northeast over leached red earth past several Jesuit mission ruins, the best-preserved of which is San Ignacio Miní. Though less well-preserved, Santa Ana and Loreto both have their assets, but progress in restoration has nearly ceased.Destination:Activities:
In terms of preservation, including the architectural and sculptural details that typify “Guaraní baroque,” San Ignacio Miní is one of the best surviving examples of the 30 Jesuit missions built in the region. It’s a tourist favorite for its accessibility in the midst of the present-day village of San Ignacio.Destination:Activities:
One exception to Río Grande’s lack of historic sites is the Salesian mission (RN 3 Km 2980, tel. 02964/43-0667, www.misionrg.com.ar), founded by the order to catechize the Selk’nam; after the aboriginals died out from unintentionally introduced diseases and intentional slaughter, the fathers turned their attention to educating rural youth in their boarding school.Destination:Activities:
The road may be paved now and fuel much easier to come by than in the early days of peninsular travel, but Baja California remains a classic route for travelers who enjoy the thrill of a long road trip. All you need is ample time, a reliable vehicle, and an ability to cope with unpredictable situations.
This itinerary follows Mexico 1 from the border crossing in Tecate to the Los Cabos tourist corridor at the southern tip of the peninsula, 1,600 kilometers away, with a few options for side trips and off-highway scenic drives along the way.Destination:Activities:
Getting to Valle de Guadalupe
The Valle de Guadalupe is less than a two-hour drive (113 km) south of San Diego on the toll road from Tijuana to Ensenada. After paying the last toll, watch for a sign to Tecate via Mexico 3 and the Ruta del Vino.
Travel east on Mexico 3 for 11 kilometers until you drop down into the Baja wine country at San Antonio de las Minas. This is the western end of the Guadalupe Valley wine region, which extends 22 kilometers east toward Tecate, ending near Km. 73.5 at L. A. Cetto and Domecq wineries.Destination:Activities:
You know you’ve entered the agricultural valley of Santo Tomás (pop. 400) when you start to see rolling hills covered in a carpet of brilliant green, rows of grapevines, olive groves, and fields of wildflowers.
Misíon Santo Tomás de Aquino
Dominican Padre José Loriente established this mission (1791–1849) midway between Misíon San Miguel to the north and San Vicente to the south. He planned to raise livestock and planted the first mission crops, including olives and grapes. The mission’s wine became known all over the peninsula, and the Bodegas de Santo Tomás continues the tradition today.Destination:Activities:
The next valley south of Santo Tomás is almost as picturesque, with more agricultural crops and the Llano Colorado (Reddish Plain) beyond it. The town itself (pop. 3,500) is a small-sized commercial center, with a few restaurants and stores as well as an ABC bus terminal—all right along the highway.
The only real point of interest here is the historic Dominican mission of San Vicente Ferrer, located one kilometer north of town at Km. 88.
Misión San Vicente Ferrer
Founded by Padres Miguel Hidalgo and Joaquín Valero in 1780, this mission (1780–1833) and military outpost played an important role in connecting the Baja California missions to the newer settlements in Alta California. It also had one of the largest building complexes of any Dominican mission.Destination:Activities:
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