Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Astounding Tales - First Journey to Tacuarembó (Uruguay)



[Researching UFOS in the southern hemisphere in the 1970s wasn't a matter of pointing a car in the right direction - it involved blood, sweat and tears and even running afoul of 'the usual suspects'. A remembrance of a journey literally into the heart of darkness - SC]

 Astounding Tales - First Journey to Tacuarembó (Argentina)

By Luis Burgos

 Among the ups and downs we have experienced while investigating the UFO phenomenon both in Argentina and Uruguay we find one that goes back quite a long time, to the days of the famous Tacuarembó case. This case occurred in 1973, and a long time went by, until 1988, before we could go and recover the metal fragments left behind from the event to the University of La Plata for analysis. But at first, our contact was epistolary, sending out letters that would take one or two months to arrive to our correspondent, Leonel Montes de Oca. He sent us so much information and some photographs as well, and obviously it made us want to be there on site, conducting research.

 The case occurred in May 1973, as rain poured down in buckets over the Uruguayan ridges of Pueblo Achar - a tiny little town - in the department of Tacuarembó, in the heart of Uruguay. Practically the whole town was aware of what had taken place. Don Isidro Tito, the owner of the property, thought at first that a lightning bolt had hit the ground, learned it had left a mark on the ground, a crater, and the story became widely known.

 What people don't know is how we organized the trip and how we got there, to Tacuarembó, because four years went by, between late 1976 and early 1977, before we could organize the first visit. There were two visits to Tacuarembó: 1977 and 1988, that is to say, a long period of time went in order to acquire and then confirm the provenance of that material. We have no doubt whatsoever that they are the product of a UFO.

 Clearly, the FAO (Fundación Argentina de Ovnilogía) did not exist at the time, and we had CIFA (Centro Investigador de Fenómenos Anomalos - Center for the Investigation of Anomalous Phenomena) in the city of Ensenada, and it had only formed a short time before with members of the group I had founded back in secondary school, the Grupo Estudiantil del Fenomeno OVNI (Student UFO Research Group), so the few of us at the time organizes the trip, and we were even fewer by the time we set out. It was a difficult and costly journey, not like it is today. So we decided to undertake it with our friends Daniel Galastro, who recently passed, and Omar Becerro, a habitué of those meetings.

 We set out from Retiro to Zarate Brazo Largo, and we had to cross the river by ferry - there was no bridge at the time, the famous Zarate Brazo Largo Bridge - so we had to take a ferry to Uruguay. So, we got off on the Uruguayan side, and from there, to get to Tacuarembó, was quite an undertaking. There was no straight road. I remember that we took a bus that got us to Paysandú around two or three in the afternoon and the weather was excruciatingly hot. We were disoriented, because we had to get from Paysandú to Tacuarembó, and not just Tacuarembó, but to Pueblo Achar, a town lost somewhere on the horizon.

 So it was unbearably hot, we had nothing to do, and just waited for the microbus to appear around five or six o'clock. We just sat in the town square of Paysandú, and there was no one at all. It looked like a ghost town. No one at all, suffocating heat, just the palm trees that adorned the surroundings. In the distance we could see a group of fifteen or twenty people and we wondered what they were up to, gathered together in the street. We approached them to see what was going on, just being nosy, when they suddenly dived into a hall. It turned out to be the movie theatre. They were waiting for the Paysandú cinema to open so they could go in, leaving us alone on the street.

 The microbus got us to Tacuarembó very late at night. As I recall, it must have eight or nine o'clock at night. But from there we had to get to Pueblo Achar. But we were in Tacuarembó, I loved it, and it struck me that the tables and chairs were in the middle of the town square and the waiters would bring food, sandwiches, and beverages from the restaurants.

 So we went to the police, who got in touch with the people at Pueblo Achar, to alert the barracks to advise Leonel Montes de Oca and our correspondents that we were going to be boarding another microbus at ten o'clock at night, departing Tacuarembó, and reaching Pueblo Achar at midnight. But we didn't even make it to Pueblo Achar, because the microbus was heading for Montevideo [capital of Uruguay-SC] and we were being dropped off in the middle of the road.

 And so we boarded yet another bus, and the driver said at one point: "Those getting off at Pueblo Achar, get off here." We jumped off the bus with Daniel and Omar Becerro. The bus went on its way and we were utterly alone, unable to see a thing. Couldn't even see each other. Stunning darkness, in the middle of a lonely road and with no idea of where we were. In the distance, on a local unpaved road, we could hear a car and a light that grew closer and closer. It parked on the far side of the road and a voice called out: "Burgos!" "Yes, it's me! Who's there, Montes de Oca?" "Yes!" So right there we felt our hearts re-enter our bodies.

 The most striking thing is that the three who came to pick us up in that old country car were there with binoculars. A UFO had gone by half an hour earlier, and in fact went by every night at the same time. We had arrived at midnight or one o'clock and the UFO had preceded our arrival by half an hour.

 So they welcomed us and we stayed up chatting until two in the morning, they set up in a guest house in town, a very small town, and the next day we interviewed the witnesses, inspected the crater, saw that ground marks were still present, and strange prints had begun forming since early 1976, hundreds of them, so that the area was in fact a minefield of prints. In later years, Atalaya [the Atalaya case - SC] would become known as the one with the most recorded ground marks ever. But until then, Pueblo Achar in Tacuarembó held the title. The characteristics were the same - figure eights, ovals, horseshoe-shapes, all of them having the crater as their epicenter, formed the object that fell there in 1973, or landed there.

 What startled us the most was that the people were very hesitant. It was necessary to draw out their words one by one. We later found out that they were frightened - bear in mind, these were the years of the dictatorship in Uruguay. The Tupamaros, the guerrillas...and there we were, investigating UFOs in the middle of a ghost town. And the army had directly ordered people to turn in any photographic and film evidence of people who were talking "that UFO nonsense". So people were very frightened. They'd used the old excuse about the planet Venus, that everything was perfectly fine, the typical cover-up maneuver.

 So, we spoke to all the witnesses and finished up our field research. Then at night, it rained. There tremendous downpour and the lights went out in the community. The following morning we set off on the return journey, but strangest of all - and I'm not sure if it was a joke or what, but Leonel Montes de Oca confirmed it later, and Daniel Galastro didn't want to tell me, since I was the youngest of the three - they told me that the infamous Men-in-Black (MIB) had been around, two people following our footsteps, dressed in black. I'm not sure whether they could have been policemen, but anyway, the story spread in town that they were investigating us.

 But the funniest detail is at the end. Upon returning to our cities of Ensenada and La Plata, respectively, we found out about two things that we weren't aware of. First, upon returning to our homes, we heard on the radio that massive tornado had engulfed Tacuarembó, and that we saved ourselves from it by a matter of hours. A truly impressive phenomenon, according to the radio. Second, two or three days later, I heard from Mr. Montes de Oca that on that stormy night before our departure, a luminous object had been seen flying over - and landing- on the slopes outside Pueblo Achar. The UFO had been flying around in the rain, which is also a constant in cases of this nature.

 These, then, were the ups and downs of our first venture to Tacuarembó. The second would be worse, since there was an official intervention, of which I will tell you in the next installment.


[Translation (c) 2020 Scott Corrales, IHU with thanks to Luis Burgos, FAO/ICOU]