Back to our last two detours before getting to Buens Aires. First we had decided to take Ruta 3 all the way, but again Esben had been looking on www.ioverlander.com, where he had found a sunken city. To get there we had to take Ruta 33, so in Bahia Blanca we turned off Ruta 3, and headed for detour 8 and 9 up Ruta 33.
Our seventh detour “Villa Epecúen – the sunken city”
Villa Epecúen was founded in 1920 at the shore of Laguna Epecúen, that is known for its salty waters. Tourism was well developed in Villa Epecúen as vacationers from Buenos Aires would seek the therapeutic salty water of Laguna Epecúen from November to Marts. From the 1950’s to the 1970’s more than 25,000 tourist had visited the small Villa Epecúen with a population of only 1,500. At the same time there was up to 280 businesses in the town. It was Argentina’s most popular spa town, where people with rheumatism and skin conditions came to bathe in the lakes mineral-rich water.
On the 6th of November in 1985 a seiche caused by a rare weather pattern with heavily rain first broke a nearby dam, and on the 10th of November (four days later) the embankment built around the town to protect it broke. The water rose progressively, rising a centimeter each hour. Two weeks later the water had raised three meters, and in 1993 the water reached 10 meters. The village became uninhabitable, and was never rebuilt.
Not much is left…
We visited the sunken city at sunset, highly recommended – it was beautiful!
Watching how the street is disappearing into the water
BUT – the best preserved building was the old slaughter house
The town remained completely submerged for 25 years, before the saline waters started to recede, revealing a town reduced to a chaotic mass of crumbling rubble. Everything was covered in a thick white layer of salt. The lake is currently 10 times saltier than the see. Drone photos taken by Ryan, www.theretoday.com
Goodnight Villa Epecúen
We could wild camp just nearby at the Laguna Epecúen
Starry starry night – long exposur photo by Esben
Our eight detour “The cowboy town – San Antonio de Areco”
Esben was leading us to the gaucho museum, but the location on the map was wrong. Instead we got to the guacho gallery , where the famous Gasparini (farther and son) have been painting the famous gauchos for several decades.
We walked in, and Gasparini started to paint a gaucho drinking mate. At the same time telling us more about the guacho story in San Antonio de Areco. Gasparini’s father had immigrated from Italy to Argentina. He could also tell us, that one Dane, Helga was still living in San Antonio de Areco. I could keep the painting as a gift from Gasparini. What a visit… and we never made it to the real guacho museum.
San Antonio de Areco is known as the cowboy town of Argentina and was founded in the early 18th century. The cowboy in Argentina is called a “Gaucho”, and the guacho history goes back to the mid 15th century, where the Querandi people met the Spanish explores, but drove them north out of Argentina into Paraguay. The Spaniards left behind their cattle and horses, which was the beginning of the legendary guacho. Today the guacho’s are still living in the northern Argentina, Uruguay and the southern Brazil.
The town is very nice, and its size is perfect for walking around a couple of days. If you want, you can also visit several of the free museum placed around town
Especially after dark it is great to go for a walk and take in the atmosphere of the city when the lights are on
San Antonio de Areco is a town, where people from Buenos Aires visit during the weekend, so it is easy to find a good bar (like the brewery in the picture) or restaurant
The river “Rio Areco” goes through the town, with huge green areas where the locals were hanging out. We could wild camp at the western end of town by the river. We really enjoyed the good weather – shorts and t-shirt weather. We worked on the blog in the shade, while one for the many “rent-a-dog” kept us company.
After driving about 4000 km from Ushuaia, Lance needed an oil change, which was done by a young local mechanic, that the owner of the local gym had recommend. Yes, we went to the gym to work out. So far we have found out, that it is a great way to meet the local by visiting the local gym, and it is also a great place to ask for help or anything we need. The locals always know their own town the best… ALMOST, because if they don’t know, they will rather try to help you by giving you wrong directions than say NO. This time the young mechanic asked Esben “to pup the hood on Lance”, though his engine is underneath the seats, and he doesn’t have a hood. So Esben gave the young mechanic a hand during the oil chance, just to be sure, that it was done correctly.
Buenos Aires here we come!