Wildlife, Whales & Welsh(?) tea

Trip Start Jun 08, 2012
Trip End Aug 16, 2013

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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Tuesday, April 30, 2013

From San Martin de los Andes it was just a mere(!) 18 hour bus ride over to the Atlantic coast to get to Puerto Madryn, which is still counted as part of Patagonia.  The town itself isnt anything too spectacular, but it does have a nice long beach, so after checking in early and catching up on a couple of hours missed sleep from the coach ride I went out for a good walk in the sunshine along the beach.  The town has Welsh connections, which is where the name "Madryn" comes from... about 150 years ago some 200 Welsh people arrived and lived in caves on the beach until they finally settled in a couple of nearby places, and named the port after a Welsh Lords estate, but the only evidence of this is a monument with the Welsh dragon on it and a list of the settlers names.

Puerto Madryn is the main place to stay where you can access the Peninsula Valdes from, a nature reserve full of sealions, elephant seals, oracs, penguins, plus in the right season you get whales migrating here for breeding (Sadly, I was just a month too early for this).  As with most other places Ive been too, I was out of season again and so the only way to get here is to hire a car or take a take a tour as the normal bus only runs in peak season.   Getting a tour also wasnt easy, as not enough tourists means the tours dont run every day, so I had to wait a day and then take a tour in Spanish as it was the only one going!  We didnt have great weather for the tour, a lot of low cloud and some drizzle, which blocked out a lot of the good views you would normally see, but I still got to spend the day watching an abundance of sea life, and saw a pod of Orcas scouting the coast line for a vunerable sealion to catch, and felt very lucky when they actually caught one and started to play with it... it was like watching a cat playing with a mouse, throwing it up in the air and tossing it around! 

To end my time in the region, on my last day I headed out on the local bus to the small town of Gaiman, which is one of the small towns the Welsh settled at after landing in Puerto Madryn.  There is a whole tourist industry here based on the fact it is a Welsh settlement, but apart from a few street names called "Jones" and "Evans", a small museum, and a couple Welsh tea houses, there is nothing else Welsh about the place, no one that speaks Welsh, and I am pretty sure that no one there even knows where Wales is!!  I decided that since I was there I should go and try out the Welsh tea at one of the tea houses anyway, so followed the signposts along a river until I finally arrived at quite a grand white house with a pretty English style garden, and was greeted by Welsh flags and dragons, and about 10 monuments and photos of Princess Di who had visited the very same tea house 1995, which they were obviously very proud of!  The menu listed Welsh cakes as being included, so I got all excited and started drooling over the memories of my Mum baking up batches of welsh cakes as a child, so felt very cheated when the tray came out full of little slices of cream cakes and christmas cake and lemon meringue pie, but not a welsh cake in sight!  Im still not sure which one was meant to be the welsh cake or what a welsh tea is supposed to be, but did nevertheless enjoy what I would class as a high tea and stuffed myself full of cake!

After visiting Gaiman, I spoke to a local who has a friend that is a descendant of one of the Welsh settlers, and not surprisingly his surname is Jones, but this is even pronounced the Argentinian way as "Ho-nes" which more or less sums up just how welsh this place really is :o)
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Dan Ho-nes on

Ha ha! You'll take some time to catch up with the Joneses!
I read once that during the Falklands conflict one of the British soldiers heard some Argentinians speaking in Hispanic but with a welsh accent... Turns out they were from Patagonia too.

Good to see you're still having fun out there Nadine! X

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