Thousands of alien enthusiasts turned out to meet their intergalactic compatriots during an international alien festival in the small town of Capilla del Monte in Argentina’s remote interior.
The annual event, going into its fourth edition celebrates the region’s status as Argentina’s very own Roswell, having established itself as a global hot spot for Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) sightings and esoteric allure over the last three decades.
This January marked the 30th anniversary of a much publicized sighting of an UFO in a nearby mountain range.
The phenomenon not only changed the face of a local hill, having reportedly burned an indelible mark into the rugged mountain face but also the social and economic fabric of the town’s community.
People from all over Argentina and around the world converge on Capilla del Monte to explore its ‘extraterrestrial’ status and the festival marks the main pit stop on the community’s annual space odyssey.
“It is not just tourism that people come here for but it is about what you might see”, said 39-year-old Chilean, Leonardo Fuentes who travelled from Santiago to witness this year’s event.
Many would agree but very few would deny the phenomenon has been anything but beneficial for the towns economy.
An ensuing tourism boom over the last 15 years has seen ‘Capilla’s’ population treble to over 12,000, with the vast majority of its inhabitants working in tourism and associated sectors.
The growth of the festival, which features everything from fancy dress competitions to UFO workshops, has caused some consternation among the towns ‘true believer’.
It has the potential to “generate a real lack of seriousness regarding the issue”, said Luz Lopez, Director of the UFO Investigation Centre in Capilla del Monte.
Lopez, the wife of recently deceased Jorge Suarez, a local official who made the investigation into Capilla’s UFO sightings his life’s work, has taken up the banner.
The Colombian native brings the more informed visitor on pin point tours explaining fact, fiction and the ‘known unknown’s’ behind the events of January 9, 1986, when a young local boy saw what many believe to be an alien spaceship.
It’s rare to meet ‘Capillense’ that does not have a blurry picture of a disk shaped object in the night sky or refer to having seen “lights behaving in intelligent ways.”
Lopez is calling on authorities to capitalize on this accumulated wealth of references and encourage the town’s development as a scientific and spiritual capital.
As if fitting in between the two worlds, one of the major stop off points for almost all visitors during this weekend’s festival is a visit to the nearby Uritorco hill.
The 2,000 metre range, known as Argentina’s magic mountain is equally sought after by star gazers, seekers of its “special source of energy” or even for those who believe it is a doorway to other dimensions.