On the horizon of the bathing resort, the sun squanders its last flames. In the distance, emerging from the salt water pond, a row of trees, dry from the salt, rises as if they were Indians watching majestic Lake Epecuén.
As tourists gradually abandon the huts and the joyful lakeshores, sunset brings the melancholy of former times, when the legends would tell about stars bearing different names and each rock and each creek contained a free spirit running through the pampas
. Those were the days when Epecuén was not just a lake and Carhué
was much more than a beautiful stop on the way.
The Tears of Spring
The present territory of Carhué, featuring plenty of grass, creeks and lagoons, used to be highly praised by the Tehuelche
and the Araucano
peoples, who would use the brackish waters of the lake as therapy long before the arrival of the Criollo
people during the Conquest of the Desert.
According to the legend, after a great fire in the woods, a child was found by a group of levuche
Indians and called Epecuén, which in their tongue stands for “almost burnt”, in honor of the fire from which he was miraculously saved.
The orphan grew up strong and proved he was brave in times of war. During a victorious battle against the Puelche
Indians, Epecuén —who was an attractive young man- took hold of the daughter of the enemy Indian chief: fresh and young Tripantu, which in the Pampa
tongue means “Spring”. The love of the warrior and the maiden lasted for one complete moon and, after that period of intense happiness, Epecuén fell in love with other prisoners stolen during the battles.
This made Tripantu very sad and she began to cry in such a way that her tears gave origin to a huge salt lake that drowned Epecuén and all his lovers. That was her revenge.
Voices from the Lake
As she learned that Epecuén had drowned, young Tripantu lost her mind and devoted her life to wandering along the lakeshores irrationally. One night with a full moon, the maiden heard the call of her beloved in the water murmur. No one has seen her again ever since.
The lake became sacred for all the tribes in the area and even today, with the increasing number of tourists reaching these splendid bathing resorts and the therapeutic properties of its waters, the lake has not completely lost its mystery.
This ghost atmosphere becomes more palpable at sunset, when the horizon displays the shapes of the half sunken trees and the profiles of the buildings of former Villa Epecuén, abandoned in 1985 when it was flooded by the overflowing lake.
In this place, the sun roars as it sets.
Thus, according to the old history told in Carhué, whoever listens for the constant murmur of the lake on nights with a full moon may hear the voices of Epecuén and Tripantu, finally living together and happily ever after, just like on their first moon of love.