In the late 1800’s, 2,000 Welsh people departed from Liverpool in search of uninhabited far away pastures. After looking at a map, they noticed that this vast area in Patagonia was an area where Europeans hadn’t yet settled.
A man with the surname ‘Madryn’ arrived at a port on the Atlantic Coast of Argentina, and named the town ‘Puerto Madryn’ (which is now twinned with one of my favourite hang-outs in the world - Nefyn, LLyn Peninsula).
From Puerto Madryn, many settlers ventured in land to start their own communities in the nearby valleys, sheltering them from the bitter coastal winds, eventually creating the villages of Trelew, Gaiman & Dolavon.
I remember sitting in A-Level Welsh when our teacher ‘John Les Tomos’, would explain to us about this colony so far away from home where the locals spoke Welsh. Staring through the window of the former town hall, in the Welsh colony of Trelew, where events such as the ‘Chubut Eisteddfod’ are organised, we were confronted by an elderly local lady who asked where we were from.
I said “Galés (Wales, in Spanish)”, in which she replied, in a Spanish accent, “Bore da, sut wyt ti”?
Our first experience, of Welsh Patagonia had us all in fits of laughter, solely as we were in such an unusual situation. After a conversation about our homelands, she directed us to the small town of Gaiman, where apparently there was even more of a Welsh influence.
She was also familiar with the work of author Kate Roberts, who lived in Denbigh from 1935 until her death in 1985.
Coincidentally, most of the people in Gaiman, had the surname Roberts. I am now interested as to how I could possibly be related to my name sake ‘Fabio Roberts’ who gave a guided tour in the ‘Gaiman Museum’.
This area of Northern Patagonia, isn't solely an attraction to us Welsh. There are an abundance of natural attractions which are important to tourism. Primarily, the Southern Right Whale migrations which is best viewed off Pensinsula Valdes, north of Puertio Madryn.
A similar distance south of the city, gives an opportunity for face to face interaction with the second biggest penguin colony in the world, at Punta Tombo.
You can read more about travelling Argentina in my next blog - Argentina: A Massive Country