It’s a little known fact that the largest concentration of Welsh language speakers outside of Wales is found far, far away down south in Patagonia, Argentina. And, like a Welsh magnet, that’s exactly where Ceri (our resident travel specialist from the valleys) headed on her Argentina trip.
Journey to the end of the world
During the 1860s a group of 150 people emigrated by boat to escape their struggle against English rule. They decided to find another place where they would be welcome and live in peace, free to speak Welsh and live their life as they wanted. The Argentine government was the first to respond with offers of land along the hardly inhabited Chubut river. Of course it was in their interest to offer free land in return for them populating and cultivating the otherwise desolate region. Not all survived the journey and setting up a new home wasn’t easy with initial conflict with their Argentinian neighbours.
You can take the girl out of Wales…
As a Welsh girl from the Valleys, I felt it was my duty to pay a visit to the thriving Welsh speaking colonies that still populate Argentina around Puerto Madryn and Trelew. They live traditional lives and the local Argentine kids also speak Welsh. Welsh cakes are abundant and there’s a wealth of museums explaining the fascinating local history. In fact, during my visit I heard more Welsh spoken than ever before! I was so proud to be from Wales yet felt suitably ashamed when I could only hold a conversation for less than five minutes while these people born in Argentina spoke it fluently.
From Welsh cakes to Penguin colonies
All the locals were very friendly, and all the guest houses and place names were in Welsh. Traditional tea houses thrive and welcome worldwide visitors with decorated cakes. The local museum in Gaiman was like re-entering my Grandma’s house with the same traditional Welsh dressers and typical furniture, and the Welsh dragon flags fly proudly everywhere. It’s a surreal experience and felt like a home from home. I’d recommend a visit here to anyone with Welsh roots. Nearby is South America’s largest penguin colony which is also well worth a visit!