BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A week after divorced South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford left office, he and his Argentine lover he called his "soul mate" were spotted frolicking on the beach in the same resort where their romance began.
The Argentine celebrity magazine "Caras," or Faces, published an eight-page spread on Sanford's romantic encounter last week with Maria Belen Chapur, at Punta del Este, Uruguay, a gathering spot for the rich and famous, celebrities and wanna-bes. Paparazzi photos taken from a distance clearly show the couple enjoying themselves – walking hand-in-hand, digging out a spot in the sand together and eating at a beachfront table at a restaurant in the resort.
The affair the 50-year-old Sanford revealed in June 2009 after he disappeared from his state to be with Chapur in Argentina derailed the Republican's once-promising political career and disintegrated his marriage to Jenny Sanford. The couple, who has four sons, soon divorced.
Sanford gave way to his successor Nikki Haley on Jan. 12, surviving the rest of his term despite lawmakers' calls for him to step down, claiming he had embarrassed the state.
According to the magazine, Sanford arrived in Uruguay on Jan. 17 and stayed for six days at the resort with Chapur, driving around in her gray Peugeot to the neighborhood where they met years ago and lunching in the center of town. They also hit the beach, the magazine said, at "a lovely spot way from the jet set and paparazzi circuit."
Sanford and Chapur first met in 2001 at an open air dance spot in Punte del Este and became friends – maintaining their relationship via e-mail for years. Sanford told The Associated Press that their relationship blossomed into romance when he traveled to Argentina in 2008.
In June 2009, Sanford left the state for five days and told his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but he was really in Argentina visiting Chapur. He returned and held a press conference at which he confessed "I have been unfaithful to my wife."
In lengthy interviews with The Associated Press, Sanford declared his lover his soul mate.
Weeks later, Jenny Sanford moved out of the governor's mansion in Columbia with their sons. The governor did not contest the divorce that followed. She wrote a tell-all memoir, "Staying True," and launched a national book tour.
According to the article in Caras, "Belen and Mark took in the sun, walked hand-in-hand along the surf and kissed passionately, showing that long-distance love, in the electronic age, is not impossible."
The AP sought comment Wednesday from Sanford, with no immediate response.
Chapur, a divorced mother of two teenagers, has made no public comments since shortly after their affair became public, when she wrote a brief letter confirming their romance and asking for privacy.