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Wales in Argentina

sunny 73 °F
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We feel like we are very far away! We are sailing down the east coast of Argentina and have arrived at Puerto Madryn, Argentina, on the Patagonian coast in the state of Chubut. It looks like Patagonia. The eye sweeps across flat and dusty pampas with occasional guanaco (like llamas) and rhea (like ostriches) in the scrublands.

As we drove two hours westward on narrow and straight and bumpy roads, it was hard to believe that we would see anything larger than a bush, but we did. Somehow there is a river in Chubut and near the river is the Narlu Artisanal Fruit Farm. Our eyes bugged. Never would we have imagined anything green growing in this desolate land; never would we have imagined flowers managing to send roots into stone hard clay. But there at Narlu, a series of irrigation canals brings enough water so that an elderly man named Charlie can farm many acres with beautiful cherry trees and berries and lavender and hazelnuts and walnuts. Charlie walked us through his fields where we picked strawberries and raspberries that were the sweetest ever. The roses were the reddest ever too. Really. Charlie also has a guesthouse with bathrooms and a little shop that sells his produce and gavd us tastes of jams and nuts and juice and Welsh wedding cake.

Welsh? Yes, this region is filled with so many Welsh families that Welsh is an official language of Argentina! The immigration began in 1865 when a clipper ship brought 150 folks to Puerto Madryn, a harbor safe from the high land rents and harsh working conditions at home. The Welsh lived in caves near the coast but there was no fresh water, so they moved inland and dug the irrigation ditches still in use.

We moved inland and visited the Old Chapel and New Chapel, two iterations of the Nonconforming Church of Wales. Interesting lighting! Weekly worship in Spanish is led by an ordained minister, but all Welsh worship is led by lay people since they have not had a Welsh speaking pastor in twenty years. One of the enthusiastic members spoke to us from the Old Chapel pulpit and then from the New Chapel pulpit. (They don’t look much different.) We got some idea about the beliefs and practices at the Chapel when we heard of this year’s conflict when St. David’s Day fell on a Sunday. Usually, there are festive teas and celebrations on David’s Day, but not this year because “you have to keep the Lord’s Day holy.” They celebrated the feast a day early instead.

Next we moved quickly through an historical museum in a former train station; documents were in Welsh, as was the butter squeezer pictured. Then we drove to Dolavon for lunch in a former grain mill. The homemade pasta was absolutely atrocious, its texture being like toothpaste and the “meat sauce” being hunks of tough gristly beef. The wine was good.

In a burst of odd excursion planning, we were next off to a Welsh tearoom in Trelew, where we had our tea and many many cakes and scones and sandwiches. At the end, a Welsh choir sang hymns in Welsh and Spanish. Ah yes, we remembered that we were actually in Argentina.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:51 Archived in Argentina

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What a wonderful world we live in. So many similarities (raspberries) and differences (Welsh in Argentina). Thanks for your descriptions, for taking us along on your journey.


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