A Little Bit of Wales

A Welsh Tea House in the State of Chubut, Argentina

Today’s post is the result of finding a business card in Spanish for one of our 2011 Argentina destinations. It was part of the best day on that particular trip. In the morning, Martine and I went to the giant Magellanic penguin rookery at Punta Tombo where we saw baby penguin eggs hatching under the watchful eyes of hungry shore birds. Then we drove to the Welsh settlement at Gaiman where we had high tea at the Ty Gwyn.

Although we were many thousands of miles from Wales, it was as if we were in the Old Country. The tea, sandwiches, and cakes were absolutely delicious. In fact, we had such a good time that we took a bus from Puerto Madryn back to Gaiman and had another high tea.

High Tea at Ty Gwyn

The State of Chubut was originally settled by the Welsh who settled in a number of communities, including Gaiman, Puerto Madryn, Trelew, and Dolavon. At the souvenir shops at the Trelew airport, a conspicuous presence were the packages of Torta Negra Galesa, the dark Welsh Cake that is the highlight of a Welsh tea.

The only other places where Martine and I had high tea were at Blenheim Palace in England—the birthplace of Winston Churchill—and Butchart Gardens near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. It is interesting that the Welsh in Argentina were easily on a par with the other two.

 

Hunting for Wales in Argentina

Flag of Argentina with Welsh Dragon

Flag of Argentina with a Welsh Dragon

It was almost exactly one hundred fifty years ago that a large group of Welsh colonists arrived at Puerto Madryn and proceeded to settle in the State of Chubut. Today, the Welsh speaking members of Y Wladfa Gymreig  (the Welsh Colony) number somewhere between 1,500 and 5,000. They are centered in the towns of Gaiman, Trelew, and, farther inland, Trevelin.

In 2011, Martine and I visited Gaiman with our guide (shown below), Rogelio Rhys. We had a fantastic Welsh Tea at the Ty Gwyn and, on a subsequent visit, saw a number of the historical sights of the colony. I had a read a book by Rogelio’s grandfather William Casnodyn Rhys entitled A Welsh Song in Patagonia: Memories of the Welsh Colonization.  Our guide was astonished that I was familiar with the book.

Rogelio Rhys in Gaiman

Rogelio Rhys in Gaiman

Shown below is a typical Welsh Tea at the Ty Gwyn. It is heavy in carbohydrates, but I threw all caution to the winds and determined to make up for it in the days to come.

A Welsh Tea at the Ty Gwyn Teahouse in Gaiman

A Welsh Tea at the Ty Gwyn Teahouse in Gaiman

So, if you should find yourself in Patagonia, don’t forget to visit the Welsh heart of the State of Chubut. In addition to the Welsh Colony, you will find the best place in the Americas to see whales (Peninsula Valdez) and penguins (Punta Tombo). And don’t forget to sit down and have some tea. It’s really great.

Vacation Planning Around Disasters

Wildfires in Argentina’s State of Chubut

Wildfires in Argentina’s State of Chubut

Whenever one is traveling anywhere in the world, one must keep up with the news. When Martine and I went to Argentina in 2011, for example, there was a major Chilean volcanic eruption that spewed ash all over the State of Rio Negro, forcing us to remove San Carlos Bariloche from our itinerary and replace it with El Calafate. This time, there is a huge wildfire near Los Alerces National Park and the town of Cholila. While the eruption of the Puyahue/Cordón Caulle volcano in 2011 lasted for months, I am confident that the Chubut fires will be doused well before November, especially as there will be an intervening rainy season.

Among the Chubut locales I hope to visit are El Maitén, Esquel, and Trevelin.

The Area Around Cholila Before the Fire

The Area Around Cholila Before the Fire