I had a day off so I hopped on the bus to Gaiman, just thirty minutes away from Trelew. It’s a small Welsh town that has somehow found itself plonked next to the River Chubut in central Argentina. Signs of Welshness are everywhere.
Lady Di (or Lady Dee to the Argentinians) came here in 1995 to take tea at one of the several tearooms that dot the town. I was on a similar mission as I hadn’t had a decent brew for over a month. I arrived too early in the day though and most places were shut so I just wandered around for a while.
The town seems to be in quite an idyllic spot next to the river, surrounded by low hills of harsh steppe.
The first thing a visitor should do is go to the Tourist Info on Belgrano, on the corner of Rivadavia where they will furnish you with a map of the town’s mildly interesting historical buildings, most of which, like the tearooms, are only open after 1 or 2pm. You can find it on my Google map.
Near the Tourist Office is a small tunnel that the Chubut railway used to go through but which is now a short cut for pedestrians to get to the other side of the hill.
The railway finally reached Gaiman in 1914, thirty years after Trelew had been founded as a railway junction to connect the Chubut valley with the Golfo Nuevo. The old station is now the local museum.
Unless you’re really interested in the heritage and want to visit all the buildings open to the public (entrance usually about $10/15, a pound or so, for each) you could probably see the town in a couple of hours.
I walked around and took a few snaps of the cottages and other Welsh buildings like the old school.
There were a couple of nice examples of Deco too.
I also found a fruit and veg shop on the corner of J.C.Evans and Avenida Yrigoyen where the nice lady sold me half a kilo of these fantastic cherries.
Finally I climbed the hill to get a view of the town.
After all that it was time for tea. There are several ‘Casas de Te’ to choose from.
I opted for Ty Gwyn on 9 de Julio which is the Lonely Planet top pick. It’s a little oasis of Welshness with harps and lovespoons as decorative items. I had the place to myself for a while until a coach party of middle aged ladies joined me.
I was served an excellent tea with cream cakes, scones and jam sandwiches for about £7 or so. It was heaven to get a decent cuppa after such a long time without, and the slice of custard tart (bottom left on the plate) was so good it nearly brought tears to my eyes (A+). Must find a recipe for it…
Mission accomplished, I left a happy man.
You can catch the bus back to Trelew from the corner of the small park on Avenida Eugenio Tello. Tickets are available from the kiosk (sweet shop) with the blue front a few of doors along from the park. The bus company is called 28 de Julio and you’ll need to put credit ($12 per one way journey) on the card you got at their ticket window back in the bus station in Trelew. Keep the paper ticket too though as it is this that will be inspected.
While not the most exciting experience, it was an interesting day trip that really makes you think about what it was like to be an immigrant so far from home.
Nowadays it seems very little Welsh is spoken, mainly due to the government making Spanish compulsory in all schools in the 70s, but my ‘bore da’ raised a few smiles, possibly because I’d got the wrong time of day (it means ‘good morning’ in Welsh). The British Council does run Welsh language programs and student exchanges in the region so the culture lives on somewhat artificially.