Argentina Love as Seen From the Air


Google Earth has been around for a few years now and it has turned into more than just a fancy map. A person can sit at their kitchen table and take an aerial tour of the world from a bird’s viewpoint. Most of the images are dull, boring and mundane shots of roads, fields and forests. Some though, like a memorial to an Argentina love story, are surprising views of natural formations or a familiar view from a different perspective.

In Cordoba, Argentina, one site stands out. In the farmlands and la pampas, is a heart-moving work of love. When planes fly over the fields of the region, passengers are surprised to see a giant guitar-shaped forest stuck in the middle of the plowed fields. The guitar is more than just a great piece of earth art, where forms are made into the natural landscape. The guitar is a tribute to a man’s lost love.

It all started in 1977 when 28-year-old Pedro Martin Ureta, an Argentina farmer, lost his wife. He planted the grove of trees in the shape of an acoustic guitar in her memory. Nearly 40 years later, Ureta still maintains and nurtures the memorial.

In his 70s now, Ureta was a rebel in his younger days. When he met the 17-year-old Graciela Yraizoz in his hometown, everything changed for him. Marrying Graciela, who oversaw work in the fields, the couple made big plans for the farm.

One day, on a flight over Pampa, Graciela noticed a field that looked like a milking pail from the air. Graciela figured that her family could create something different, and more spectacular, on their own farm. Her idea? A giant forest shaped as her favorite instrument – the guitar.

Ureta had to put Graciela’s idea on the back burner for a while. With so many things to do to run a farm, there just didn’t appear to be enough time. “Later. We’ll talk about it later,” was all Ureta would say to Graciela when she brought it up.

Ureta’s youngest child says, “My father was a young man and very busy with his work and own plans.”

“Later” never came though. In 1977, Graciela died unexpectedly of bleeding on the brain at 25. To further the tragedy, the mother of four was pregnant with the couple’s fifth child. Ureta was heartbroken.

He decided that the ideal way to honor his late wife would be to make her wish come true and create the huge work of art in her memory. After contacting landscapers, who refused to help, the farmer and his children decided to do it themselves. Together they planted nearly 7,000 trees. Using cypress for the body of the guitar and sound hole, Ureta and his children used Blue eucalyptus trees for the six strings.

After a few rough seasons while waiting for the trees to root, Ureta’s dedication finally paid off. Watching the forest grow over the years with his children gave the widower and his family some comfort.

“It was the closest thing possible to having my mother alive,” said Maria Julia, the eldest of the children. One of Ureta’s dreams is to fly over the forest one more time before he dies so that he can catch a vision of Argentina love from the air.

By Jerry Nelson

Live Science

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