If you would like to visit Santa María and see the work of the Santa Maria Education Fund, you will be very welcome. There is a lot to see and do in Santa María, from taking an ox-cart ride to learning how to dance or make typical Paraguayan food.
One of the principal attractions, however, is the museum. Santa María has what is in many people’s eyes the finest of all the museums of the Reductions, situated in an original casa de indios (“house of Indians”), beautifully restored with international aid. It houses some 50 carved wooden statues of saints and holy figures: entering the final room, devoted to the Passion of Christ, is a mystical experience.
The Santa Maria Hotel is another enterprise founded by Margaret Hebblethwaite, and caters for overseas visitors who may have no Spanish.
It is run by María Gloria García and Milciades Mancuello, who speak excellent English, and completed their Business Administration degrees with the help of scholarships from the Fund.
They cater for travellers from all over the world, who come to visit the Jesuit Missions, explore the wonderful countryside, and discover local customs, food, dance and music. They are happy to receive individuals and groups and to give them as much support as they need to reach Santa Maria and to visit the sites and projects that interest them.
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Almost next door to the Santa María Hotel you will find the workshop of the sewing co-operative, the Taller de Hermandad, founded more than 25 years ago, with the support of the Sisters of the Company of Mary Our Lady. A group of about 30 women meet morning and afternoon to produce beautiful, hand-sewn, appliqué craftwork, showing traditional scenes from peasant life.
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