These two places found their way into a traveler’s itinerary because of their incredible history. In 1885, a group of Welsh settlers, frustrated by English domination, arrived near Golfo Nuevo, today Puerto Pirámides. Looking for a place to retain their language and cultural identity, they asked the Argentine government for land and eventually were allotted the lower valley of Rio Chubut. These “Gales” had learned about this area through the reports of Captain Robert Fitz Roy, who had explored the region in 1833.
They had little knowledge of farming and similar to the Pilgrims Fathers only survived with the help of the local indigenous population. Eventually they learned to build an irrigation system and became successful farmers. Another 84 settlers joined them in 1874. The last group arrived in 1911. Since this area was so far from Argentine influence, the Gales were able to maintain their traditions and language for a long time. Hard to believe, but even today Welsh is spoken in many families in this area!
We approached this destination with a lot of skepticism, but equally with enthusiasm. The later made us go all the way to Dolavon. As soon as we got off the bus, we realized that there was nothing, absolutely nothing to see and we simply waited for the next bus to leave, fortunately only 50 minutes later! This “very local” bus took the gravel road back to Gaiman, which turned out to be quite an experience. We passed the very rural part of these communities and took great pleasure in watching the interaction between the bus driver and all the people getting on and off.
Back in Gaiman, we first enjoyed “tea time” in Cymreag, one of the three tea houses in town. This turned out to be a real meal, with lots of delicious pastries, home made marmelade and excellent tea. This was surely the highlight of the day and a reason enough to go to Gaiman.
We also visited the little museum about the history of the city. After 20 minutes, we were done but then started talking to the young man in charge of this museum. We pretty much covered everything, the history of the Gales in great details and politics of Argentina in general. This young man was so passionate about the history of the country and politics in South America that we only left after 3 hours in the museum!
Back in Trelew, we took the night bus to El Bolsón, to Argentine’s Lake District, a 12 hour ride in a highly comfortable “Cama” bus. We rested two days there before heading to Chiloe in Chile, another 12 hour ride on three different busses.