Visitors to Patagonia are often surprised at the number of Welsh towns that can be found across the region.
The first group of around 150 settlers arrived on a boat called the Mimosa at Port Madryn on Argentina’s east coast in 1865. They had come in order to escape persecution at the hands of the English and to seek a better way of life. They wanted a place where they could practice their own language and culture freely.
However, on arrival, they found that Patagonia was not as friendly and inviting as they had hoped. They were forced to take shelter in caves and many died from lack of food and water.
Over the next 20 years, the Welsh began to establish permanent settlements across Chubut province and more and more people made the long journey across the Atlantic. They began to head further west in search of the ‘promised land’, an area which they had been told resembled the green valleys of their homeland.
One such town is Trevelin, which means ‘mill town’ in Welsh. The mill is now a museum and provides a fascinating insight into the history of the Welsh in the area. Other places of interest are the chapel, constructed in 1901 in a typically Welsh style, and the traditional tea houses which are a must if you visit the town.
Today, the descendants of those early pioneers are well and truly integrated into Argentina and consider themselves Argentinian. But many speak the Welsh language and every year the town holds an Eisteddfod, a festival of literature, music and performance. It’s the chance to experience a small slice of traditional Welsh culture but with a Patagonian backdrop.