Eerie ghost town comes up for air
A strange ghost town that spent a quarter century under water is coming up for air again in the Argentine farmlands southwest of Buenos Aires.
EPECUEN, Argentina (AP) — Epecuen was once a bustling little lakeside resort, where 1,500 people served 20,000 tourists a season. During Argentina's golden age, the same trains that carried grain to the outside world brought visitors from the capital to relax in Epecuen's saltwater baths and spas.
Photo: In this May 6, 2013 photo, former resident and tourist guide Norma Berg walks by a street in Epecuen, a village that once was submerged in water in Argentina.(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
The saltwater lake was particularly attractive because it has 10 times more salt than the ocean, making the water buoyant. Tourists, especially people from Buenos Aires' large Jewish community, enjoyed floating in water that reminded them of the Dead Sea in the Middle East.
Then a particularly heavy rainstorm followed a series of wet winters, and the lake overflowed its banks on Nov. 10, 1985. Water burst through a retaining wall and spilled into the lakeside streets. People fled with what they could, and within days their homes were submerged under nearly 10 meters (33 feet) of corrosive saltwater.
Now the water has mostly receded, exposing what looks like a scene from a movie about the end of the world. The town hasn't been rebuilt, but it has become a tourist destination again, for people willing to drive at least six hours from Buenos Aires to get here, along 340 miles (550 kilometers) of narrow country roads.
Photo: In this May 7, 2013 photo, tombs lay in the ruins of Epecuen, a village that was submerged in water in Argentina. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
People come to see the rusted hulks of automobiles and furniture, crumbled homes and broken appliances. They climb staircases that lead nowhere, and wander through a graveyard where the water toppled headstones and exposed tombs to the elements.
It's a bizarre, post-apocalyptic landscape that captures a traumatic moment in time.
One man refused to leave. Pablo Novak, now 82, still lives on the edge of the town, welcoming people who wander into the wrecked streets.
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"Whoever passes nearby cannot go without coming to visit here," Novak said while showing The Associated Press around. "It's getting more people to the area, as they come to see the ruins."
Many residents of Epecuen fled to nearby Carhue, another lakeside town, and built new hotels and spas, promising relaxing getaways featuring saltwater and mud facials.
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"Not only do we have Epecuen with the ruins and its natural wealth, but we also can increasingly offer other alternatives," said Javier Andres, the local tourism director.
inspire: live a better life
Summer and winter tend to hog all the glory when it comes to travel high seasons. Sure, you want to soak up all the time at the beach you can during the summer, and you just want to escape the cold during the last months of the year.
Who just wants to stand around and watch the red and gold leaves slowly fall from their tree branches to the ground as we move from summer to fall? Instead, take in the changing seasons while you're on the move.
In September, I'll turn 38. I'm at the age now where, when people ask how old I am, it takes me a minute to remember. I don't know if that's because I've already been 37 different ages and it's hard to keep straight which one I am now, or if it's because I'm in denial, or if it's because I am going senile. Maybe a combination of all of the above. Regardless, my 30s have flown by and soon they will be but a memory. So, in an effort to preserve the memory I have left (or at least keep a record of it), and to celebrate what has been an amazing decade so far, here are 30 things that have happened to me in my 30s (and will probably happen to you too):
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