Welsh Patagonia

Welsh Patagonia

January 21, 2015


Narrated Audio Blog

Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.

 

 

Nearly 150 years ago a ship load of immigrants from Wales landed in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. Their intention was to set up a welsh community with no English influence. In fact they ended up establishing a number of these communities but today, the most notable is a place called Gaiman where there is still a strong Welsh culture and the Welsh language is commonly spoken. Stuarts boss in Australia, Dave, was of proud Welsh decent. So when Stu talked about his upcoming world-wide adventure, Dave mentioned the Welsh history in Argentina so The Pack Track starred the towns of Trelew, Gaiman and Trevelin on Google maps so we'd remember when we eventually reached Argentina.

Janell was a little confused about where exactly we were going to see dragons and drink tea, probably because she hadn't been listening to Stu when he was describing the Welsh history of the area. Trelew was the first town encountered as its situated on the main highway Ruta 3. Trelew sounded really Welsh to Janell who insisted on The Pack Track stopping for photos at the entrance. Unfortunately her excitement then confusion resulted in a little disappointment when she realised she had to get back on the bike and ride to another town before unpacking. About 20km due east of Trelew is the city of Rawson - also the capital of the state of Chubut - and 20km west of Trelew is Gaiman, the destination.

Adjacent to the volunteer fire brigade station in Gaiman is a campground also administered by the fire brigade. Its a really pretty spot next to a river with all the necessary facilities including power so we set up our tent there. Before we did anything else, we took ourselves for a nice long run, a good way to see the town and the surrounding landscape. We took note of the supermarket, fuel station, bakery, cafés, restaurants and bars (or restaurants that advertised beers as that didn't seem to have pubs or bars). We'd been spoilt in Puerto Madryn by Hernan and Noelia with some great home cooked food and sweets so made a point of pushing ourselves extra hard on the run.

Once all the exercise was out of the way it was time to undo all the good work, so off we went to the famous tea houses of Gaiman. Noelia had given us a recommendation so we went straight there. Ty Gwyn is the teahouse and we were not disappointed. They had a set menu so we just went with the flow. In hindsight we should have ordered one set menu and another tea only because the amount of food was phenomenal and it was so rich that sharing would have been sufficient. The teahouse had WiFi so we sat there for 3 hours making our way through the array of sandwiches and cakes while slowly sipping our tea. There was no dinner that night!

Later that day we met a retired couple from Wales, John and Jane, who had visited Gaiman annually for the past 5 years swapping the cold Welsh winter for the warm Argentine summer. They confessed that this would probably be their last visit as they knew there was so much more of the world to see. They took us to see the canals that ran through the town built by the original settlers, the Dutch, and designed by a woman, so are still in use today. We bumped in to them a few times not just in Gaiman but when we visited Trelew for the day they were in a restaurant we decided to have lunch in.

Our day trip to Trelew and Rawson was fun, we rode three up on Stu's bike. Rawson is located on the Atlantic Ocean and has a nice fishing port and beach, had we been more prepared we would have gone for a swim but unfortunately we didn't have our swimwear. Instead we decided to enjoy fish burgers at the port. Again we ordered two servings thinking they would be small, but no, each serving was made up of two rolls each around 25cm long and 15cm wide filled with fish and salad, had we known this we'd of ordered one serve. To make it worse, Stu thought we should order a serve of hot chips, so again we found ourselves in a situation with too much food. Stu wasn't going to be defeated and kept going until every last mouthful was gone. Janell, however, ate one roll, plus the fish from the other, and took the bread back to Weeti as a treat, but being the picky little dog she is she simply sniffed it and walked away.

Three nights in Gaiman was enough to soak up the culture and experience a little Welsh in Patagonia. So the next day we took off for Comodoro Rivadavia where our new tyres should be waiting for us.



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