Copyright notice: these photos aren’t mine; I’m still hatching a plot to replace my camera later on in the year.
These photos were taken by one Megan Ramsey, Scottish lass, who is spending some of her university language year in Cordoba, and came to stay with us for a few days to remember how to speak English and see something else of Argentina.
So we took her out to Miramar, a little town of some 1600 inhabitants, on the shore of the Mar Chiquita, (“Little sea”) which is a big salt-lake.
The lake is 115 kilometres long, by 88 kms across, so it does look quite a lot like a sea, as well as being salty. I think it is the fifth largest salt-lake in the world.
It is home to some 300 species of birds, which is something like a quarter of all the species of birds in Argentina, including three types of flamingo. The flamingos are quite shy so they don’t always stick around to be photographed, but there is one on the right hand side of this photo, pretending to be a stork.
In the back-ground is the imposing bulk of the ruined “Hotel Vienna”, which is a conspiracy theory in the making. It was built with German money during the second world war, as a five-star hotel, totally out of keeping with anything else in the area, it opened in 1945, and closed some fifteen months later, leaving a German scientist as caretaker, who was later found poisoned in the basement. No-one has ever come forward to retrieve the body of said caretaker, or to claim ownership of the building or its contents. It has gradually fallen into decay, until in recent years the local tourist board has recognised an opportunity to capitalise on its mystery, and is now running guided tours every afternoon and selling souvenir T-shirts and postcards from the old foyer.
The lake has expanded greatly in recent years. The most famous flood was in 1977, when a large part of old Miramar became submerged, and the army was brought in to blow up some 35 blocks of the town where the buildings had become unstable due to the water. Walking along the shore there are still large areas where flooring and foundations are clearly visible, and swimmers are advised to stick to the marked bathing areas which have been cleared of broken piping and other nasty surprises.
With its ecology, geography, history and tales of intrigue, not to mention the fried “pejerrey” fish sold in the many restaurants along the front, Miramar is a fine place in which to waste a sunny afternoon.