Sante Fe: “Don’t Wake Me Up From My Siesta” Across the Rio Paraná

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We could have stayed on either side of Rio Paraná: in Paraná, state of Entre Río or in Santa Fe, state of Santa Fe. We ended up in Paraná because it floods less often and we had found a better hotel—since we had never been to either of the two cities, it was a completely random decision, one of the dozens we make every day.

In hindsight, staying in Paraná was a good choice.

We took a day trip to Santa Fe, a forty-minute ride across the river and through the Raúl Uranga—Carlos Sylvestre Begnis Subfluvial Tunnel, almost as long as its name. We got off by the bridge and walked back and forth across Rio Paraná just for the sake of it. It was a beautiful day, no wind and blue sky. It was also hot. Very hot and humid.

We found the tourist info centre by accident, pushing the door of the very big and empty Estación Belgrano. The young employee was delighted to see foreign tourists. She grabbed a map and began to mark all the cool places we could go to. There was the brewery, free entry from 6 p.m., kids very welcome! The shopping centre and the casino! The harbour! The historical centre! Then she took a selfie with the three of us and wished us suerte.

Wow. It was going to be a busy day!

Or not. It was 1:30 p.m. and we had already established we wouldn’t visit the brewery at 6 p.m. because we had to pick up our laundry from the lavandaría in Paraná before 8:30 p.m. Besides, Feng found it strange that kids were welcome. And as we walked up one of the main boulevards, we realized that, like in Paraná, every single shop was closed for the siesta. A long siesta, since businesses only slowly reopen around 5:30 p.m.


Main boulevard? Empty, everything closed. Pedestrian streets? Deserted. Eventually, we ended up at the small mall close to the harbour. It was predictably boring but we enjoyed the air con for thirty minutes. Overall, I found Santa Fe a bit bland. It didn’t have the intimate small-town feel of Paraná. It felt too ambitiously modern and polished, probably a side effect of being the state capital.

Determined to explore the entire city, we walked through the historical district and reached the Plaza 25 de Mayo, the centre of colonial Santa Fe. Quiet, again.

Exploring an empty city does have its perks, you see buildings differently and you feel you own the city. I kept on wondering about the logistic of shutting down for four or five hours in the middle of the day. French businesses used to close for lunch for about an hour or two at noon. Inconvenient for customers? Probably. But it kind of made sense to me, employees or business owners needed a break to eat, smoke and possibly have sex with their lover/mistress. But shutting down for most of the afternoon? Where did employees go? Home? They had to live nearby, then. And wasn’t it more exhausting to start a second shift after relaxing for several hours?

When we walked back to the bus terminal, the city was slowly awaking.

We would get back to Paraná just in time for the late-night fun. Perfect timing.

Bus station in Paraná

Bus driver, enjoy a mate…

The Raúl Uranga – Carlos Sylvestre Begnis Subfluvial Tunnel

Puente colgante de Santa Fe

Rio Paraná from Santa Fe

Puente colgante de Santa Fe

Blue sky, green leaf along the Rio Paraná

Santa Fe’s empty train station

Police propaganda in Santa Fe, “more police means more protection”

Eva Perón street in Santa Fe

Around the harbour of Santa Fe

Around the harbour of Santa Fe

A tired soul taking a public siesta in Santa Fe

Parilla fast food counter in a mall in Santa Fe

José Francisco de San Martín, a national hero

Street of Santa Fe in the historical centre


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Reading all your South America trips (including from previous years), I realized the infrastructure in my country is very bad, seems decade too late. Jakarta is still making its first MRT, but will be only serve less than 10km road.
    You will not see bus nor train is small city (for within the city commmuting)
    Everybody owns vehicle at least a motor cycle, thus, create traffic jam.
    Anyway, I love your sleveless t-shirt. My daughter is still buying the books (Miss Happy, Miss Sunhsine, etc..) and, yes..Feng’s shirt too! Travel is always necessary!

    • I also love the “monsieur/madame” books (the “Miss/Mister” books I grew up with in France)!

      Ottawa is super bad when it comes to public transit, it’s not just Indonesia. The national capital is building its first light rail now, and it’s been kind of a lengthy and disastrous affair 🙁

      • hey! didn’t know it was French Series! when I was at Mark’s age, I lived in Sumatra Island (west part of Indonesia, 1.5 hrs flight from Jakarta), My dad always bought me Martine serial everytime he had business trip to Jakarta.
        in Indonesia, they transalte to “Tini’s story”. Tini is a common name for Indonesia’s girl! i still recall it has beautiful pictures!

        • Martine was super popular in France as well. This is my aunt’s name, so we still make fun of her with that… “Martine in Paris”, “Martine at the beach”, etc 😆

  2. Martin Penwald on

    “More police [control] means more protection”.
    It is a very orwellian statement.

    Mark in a brewery ? You’ll get in jail and Mark will go through the CPS when you’ll be back in Canada.

  3. The tourist office employee took a selfie with you? Haha. Was it for their social media accounts? Your arrival sounds like an exciting moment for her.

    Siesta until 5:30! I was thinking the same thing you wrote– people must live close to their jobs. I commute into work, and a long break would be more of a burden because I couldn’t go home to nap and rest. Or I’d take a “public siesta.” Also, does that mean stores and banks are open later than in North America? If so, I guess I would like that aspect.

    • I have no idea how the picture will be used but I didn’t mind. Eh, after all, I take pictures of people too!

      I’m kind of working split shift in Ottawa, morning, then a break when Mark finishes school (way too early for my taste…), then back to work in the evening. Obviously it works for me because my schedule is flexible by nature (freelancing is on-demand work) but I do find it tiring sometimes. I wouldn’t work split shifts like this as an employee, assuming these hours are unpaid.

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