Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Colonia del Sacramento, April 5, 2011

Today we took a day trip to Colonia.  This small town maintains an image and markets its heritage in a pleasant way, and is quite successful at that.  Many trips come across the River Plate to Colonia from Buenos Aires, which is a shorter trip than it is to come from Montevideo.  Colonia was founded by Portuguese people coming down from Brazil.  Colonia sits astride the entrace into the Atlantic Ocean from a huge river system including the Parana and the Uruguay Rivers.  Silver coming out of Potosi in present-day Bolivia was legally shipped out through Lima in present-day Peru.  A great deal of the silver was smuggled straight out to Atlantic ships via the River Plate.  So that's why the town was created in the first place.

Parts of the wall fortifications are preserved, and the streets are of cobblestone.  So in one sense, the town reminds me of Sutter's Fort in Sacramento, or of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, or of Concord, Massachusetts.  There are five small museums, and I must emphasize here that they are small.  The Portuguese are famous for their tile work, or azulejos.  There is a small azulejo museum and display in Colonia, needless to say.  All the tiles displayed there were from nineteenth-century France.  You get the idea.  The museum of the Portuguese period has a Portuguese flag inside.  Nothing pleases a historian more than to catch some major error in a thing like that:  the red and green colored flag dates from 1910 when the monarchy was overthrown!   :-)  The flag before that was blue and white.  

This cannon is of late manufacture.  You can see from the red color of the corrosion that it is made of iron.  Cannons of the period of Portuguese occupation would have been of bronze, and corroded to a green color.

They are everywhere!  Everywhere! 

Note the brown color of the river water.  Huge amounts of silt drain through the River Plate's tributaries.

Uruguay is known for having many old cars around.  It is, or used to be, very costly to import a motor vehicle into the country, and so the ones that were here, tended to be kept running at all costs.  I don't know the current situation, but we see a lot of cars or shells of them still around.  The Studebaker below is still running, but the Citroen and Model A Ford have been put to other uses.

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