22 October 2007

Photo tour to San Lorenzo

I went on a photo tour to San Lorenzo with the Rosarigasinos last Saturday. San Lorenzo is a city of 45,000 north of Rosario, within the metropolitan area. The region is densely populated and, in the case of San Lorenzo and the nearby towns, booming with light industrial development — petrochemical, vegetable oil, a cellulose plant... This combination gives the area a distinctive stench that fortunately doesn't reach the urban center of San Lorenzo, but is a pain along the road.

San Lorenzo is also known as the site of the only battle of the Wars of Independence to be fought in present-day Argentine soil. National hero, General José de San Martín, really liberated Argentina by defeating the Spanish in places located in neighbouring countries. The Battle of San Lorenzo was really a very small one (less than 1,000 troops counting both sides), but San Martín succeeded in thwarting a Spanish attack from the littoral, which was then rather wild and underpopulated. The rest of the battles he fought in Chile, Bolivia and Peru, closer to the local power centers of the time.

On Friday night there was a terrible storm, including some hail, and it still was raining from time to time when we gathered on Saturday morning, but by noon the sun was out in full force. We got on two cars and headed for San Lorenzo... it must've taken us an hour, because the road is narrow and not too good and it was being repaired and redone (they want to connect it to a highway). First we went to the Convent of San Carlos, where San Martín's forces rested.

There are Franciscans there still, but the convent is actually a museum. They preserve the room where San Martín stayed, others with objects used by the first monks, others with 19th century weapons, old letters and pictures, and all sorts of other objects up until the early 20th century. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

Habitación de San MartínHabitación del Capitán Bermúdez
Historia acumulada

We had lunch in a restaurant nearby, and then visited the coast. The provincial government is working on it, reinforcing the ravine against erosion and planning a nice park and a promenade, not unlike what's been done in Rosario. The reinforcement is needed because the river naturally eats away the ravine, and the increased traffic of large cargo ships and the 34-foot dredging of the Paraná have only made it worse. The rest is just esthetic, which is not a bad idea considering the potential for historical tourism. Schools regularly take students to visit San Lorenzo, but it's really a minor thing.

In the afternoon we visited the Municipal Museum. I was favourably surprised by it. It had a collection of everyday objects from the past of the city, nothing of great economic value or splendid appearance, but very interesting nonetheless. It was well-lit and displayed, and nobody protested when we took pictures.

We stayed until nightfall and then (since the last of us had been left behind without a car) we returned on a packed interurban bus.

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