You are looking at the remains of a once-thriving Argentinian vacation village. Villa Epecuén, located a six-hour drive southwest of Buenos Aires, was established in the 1920s on the shores of salty Lake Epecuén. Vacationers would journey to the village by train to soak in the relaxing waters of the lake, which was believed to confer many health benefits due to its high salinity.
The little resort town grew to accommodate around 5,000 people, and catered to their needs with 280 businesses. Then came the rains. From 1980, changing weather patterns resulted in unusually high rainfall over the next five years. On November 10, 1985, the lake dam broke, causing a slow but devastating flood.
For almost 25 years, Villa Epecuén was buried under 33 feet of water. Then, the weather changed again. In 2009, dry conditions in Argentina resulted in the gradual evaporation of the water covering the town. Villa Epecuén rose again: a bleached, mangled, corroded version of its former self.
Only one former resident returned to the village: 84-year-old Pablo Novak, who spent his youth in Villa Epecuén along with his parents and 11 siblings. Now the sole inhabitant of the deserted town, Novak spends his days relaxing in his simple home and riding his rusted bike among the broken buildings, rusted carcasses of cars, and scattered bricks—some of which he made himself. A 2013 short documentary, Pablo's Villa, sheds more light on his remarkable situation:
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