The Provincia on the Argentine side of the falls is Misiones. It is bordered by both Brasil and Paraguay. The soil in this area, on both sides of the border, is bright red. There are other areas in Argentina where the earth has a reddish hue, but nothing quite like it is here. The dust settles on the road, and after riding through our second tropical storm our bikes were covered with the red stuff. It is so distinct, that for more than 1000 miles afterward whenever we would stop people would ask us what we had been doing in Misiones. This province gets its name from the Jesuit missions in the area. The majority of the missions were actually in Paraguay or the province of Paraná in Brazil. These missions were reducciones, what we might call reservations. As the word implies they were meant to "reduce" the Guaraní natives into a manageable space where they could be schooled in Christian doctrine, and european skills and practices. It also reduced them culturally, linguistically and every other way imaginable. The reduced indians were a conveniently concentrated target for slave trader raids however, and towards the end of the 17th century, they began to retreat across the river into Argentina. Perhaps the most notable of these is the Misión San Ignacio Miní. The Cathedral faced the main plaza.
There are hundreds of housing units at San Ignacio, as well as workshops, an armory, the Cathedral, and a school. They are all built from hewn sandstone fit together with chinkstones without mortar.
The carving on what remains of the entrance to the Cathedral was done by Indian craftsmen.
Near the entrance was this bizarre tree at left. Several of its trunks bore ordinary leaves, while one hosted this cactus. At right, this tree graced one of the many courtyards.