gardenashes_280There were many things I felt as I passed the sign that read: Welcome to the Villa La Angostura “The Garden of the Patagonia.” I was told by a friend not to go there because it had become a ghost town. It was my first time visiting, and what I saw was nothing short of a phenomenon: a city known for its vibrant greens and clear waters looked more like a desert scene from an old 1940s Western film.

On June 4th, 2011, Villa La Angostura was changed forever. That Thursday, unlike any other day, the sky turned black, leaving the 13,000 inhabitants confused, worried and completely panicked. Volcano Puyehue erupted, causing a hail of elements: ash, sand and rocks. Although the volcano is located in Chile (to the east of Argentina), that evening the wind blew towards the south of Argentina, turning Villa La Angostura and neighbouring towns into the victims of a natural disaster. Millions of tons of volcanic ash fell, creating a layer nearly 60cm deep covering this paradise.

Villa La Angostura is going through an ambiguous transition. All that was left after the eruption was a desolate landscape and many people fled the town. Of the approximate 13,000 habitants, it is estimated that around 8,000 remain. Since the eruption of Puyehue, life continues, only now it is among the ashes.

Jessica Pons