After walking through what felt like most of Patagonia, our time in the cold was over. We left El Calafate with all our electronic devices fully charged ready to tackle the next 24h bus ride to Chubut, the Welsh region in eastern Argentina. Unfortunately it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere which meant we had to take a bit of a detour, but Annalie had been looking forward to visiting her fellow Welsh compadres so we bit the bullet. We arrived in Trelew (and so the Welsh starts) early one morning and tiredness was weighing us down so before making snap judgements of the city, which at first impression looked a bit lonely, we decided to give our brains a rest. Our hunt for a hostel landed us in a room with 6 other beds (Lonely Trelew turned out to be Bloody Expensive Trelew, hence the dorm) but luckily nobody to share with, or at least we thought. An elderly lady wearing an amazing purple cardigan suddenly walked in our room without saying a word; we quickly realised she was staying in one of the beds. What can go wrong, she’s just a little old lady, right? Well we thought so too, until a few minutes later when we actually questioned if she’d transformed into a man. She stood up, growled her throat clear, relieved her esophagus of heavy mucus, and spat in the bin at the end of Annalie’s bed. We barely had time to take in what had happened before she came back and offered me to buy a hand-knitted coaster whilst reaching over and asking to take a mint. Slightly freaked out by our first Argentine-Welsh encounter we abandoned ship and treated ourselves to another room, knowing that our experience here could only go uphill.
And so it did. We made use of the rest of the day to recover from the journey and walk around town with eyes on any form of Welsh iconography. Trelew isn’t the most fascinating town we’ve seen but a few things dotted around town certainly made Annalie smile, such as the office for the Argentinian Eisteddfod, the association for Saint David, the Welsh museum and seeing the red dragon all around town. But Trelew is mainly the gateway to Gaiman, which was much prettier.
The village of Gaiman was founded about 150 years ago by a bunch of Welsh families who left Wales mainly to protect Welsh culture which had been under threat. Plus, Argentinia was welcoming immigrants at that time, especially if they were willing to fill some of the vastly empty pampas lands! And so a selection of little villages was formed (but boy they must have been shocked to find dry, hot, emptiness after leaving behind the luscious green hills of Wales).
Gaiman is cute but pocket sized, so after a stroll there’s not much left to do but check out one of its main attractions: the town’s tea houses. Our’s was called Ty Gwyn and offered us an expensive pot of tea and copious amounts of cake. Unfortunately it’s clear time has taken its toll as testified by the quality and inauthenticity of the Welsh cake. Annalie was slightly disappointed, also due to the fact we didn’t hear anyone speak Welsh. But, it was sunny and we enjoyed a nice walk through Gaiman’s quiet, little streets; smiling at the Welsh flags and Welsh signs; and having lunch in a restaurant which looked remarkably like an English pub (the menu was in Spanish, Welsh and English. Where else in the world would you find this?)
Short but sweet our time in Argentine Wales was nearly over, we just had one more night to spend in Puerto Madryn, the main city of this Chubut region, before heading off to Buenos Aires. Seemingly this area offers lovely marine excursions where penguins, whales, sea Lions and plenty other sea creatures can be spotted, but we gave this a miss in favour for take-away pizza (the perks of being on a budget). The only thing we can really recall doing / enjoying in Puerto Madryn is sitting on our bed Skypeing with our good friends Hannah and Seb as they tied the knot back in the UK 🙂
These few days have been fairly chilled and mostly a stop off point before reaching Buenos Aires where we’re meeting up with Annalie’s sister Catherine and boyfriend Tom. Fun times ahead!
Ciao for now! Xx