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Dolavon

(Altitude: 13 m / 43 ft, Population: 2929, Phone Code: 02965)

West of Gaiman, Ruta Nacional 25 goes deeper into the Chubut River Valley. The desert-like landscape is sparsely covered with brush. There are rugged white bluffs to the north of the highway, and to the south, trees line the RĂ­o Chubut.

The next Welsh village in this glen is Dolovan, which means “River Field” (dîl, field; afon, río). John J. Williams was the first to arrive in 1892. Soon, others came to set up farms. Irrigation canals were set up, sending water to chacras (farms) in Gaiman, Trelew and other areas, and to control river floods. The wooden paddles of the canals earned Dolavon the nickname “El Pueblo de las Norias” (Village of the Waterwheels). When wheat became the main crop of the Chubut River Valley, the communities’ first flour mill was built here to grind the internationally award-winning grain. Dolavon was also a major stop on the trade route from Trevelín and Esquel to the other Welsh towns near the Atlantic coast. The railroad from Puerto Madryn arrived in 1915, and in 1918, Dolavon was officially established as a village.

From the highway, Avenida San MartĂ­n meets the irrigation canal that marks Dolavon’s downtown. The sluice is flanked by a green space; Avenida 25 de Mayo is along the north side, where you'll find the bus terminal, train station-cum-tourism office, bank and city hall. On the south edge of the park, Avenida Roca is lined with restaurants and other businesses. Compañía Mercantil del Chubut, on the corner of 8 de Julio, is a general store that has served the community since 1917. The region’s first flour mill, Molino Harinero, is a half-block south of Avenida Roca. Today, it is a restaurant-museum with guided tours (Tour: $1.50, Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday 4-7 p.m. MaipĂș 61, Tel.: 54-2965-492-290, E-mail: romanogiallatini@speedy.com.ar.).

Toward the east end of the canal you'll come across Capilla Carmel, a Welsh church built in 1920. Iglesia Anglicana San David, was founded by Reverend H. Davies in 1883. The present building, constructed from 1914 1917, is the only Anglican temple in the valley that has a tower and bell. It is the only one you can enter (open afternoons, Chacra 259). Other chapels in Dolavon are Capilla Glan Alaw, a Calvinist Methodist church that opened its doors in 1887 (Bethesda sector, Chacra 250) and Capilla Bethesda, founded in 1895, whose modern building dates from 1904 (Bethesda sector, Chacra 259).

Parque AstrolĂłgica Celta, a grove of trees symbolizing each zodiac sign, according to Celtic astrology, runs along the canal. The Observatorio ArqueoastronĂłmico, or Archeo-Astronomical Observatory, is about one kilometer (0.6 mi) from town. Atop a knoll prized by the AĂłnikenk (Tehelche) nation is a modern construction based on AĂłnikenk and Celtic astronomical traditions. There is a large stone, columns that mark the equinoxes and solstices, and a solar clock (daily 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Ruta Nacional 25, Km 56, Tel.: 1569-0156, E-mail: romanogi@infofvia.com.ar. Entry: free).

Elvio Griffiths of Agroturismo Las Piedras does guided tours through his eclectic collection of wagons, antiques, coins, indigenous stone tools and hundreds of other odds and ends (open weekends and holidays, 2 kilometers from Dolavon, Ruta 10 to 28 de Julio, Tel.: 02965-1566-8639.)

Another Welsh settlement is 28 de Julio, 28 kilometers (17 mi) west of Dolavon. This hamlet of about 100 souls is mostly a zone of farms. There is a feria artesanal on the first Sunday of each month. The settlement is home to the Museo TecnolĂłgico, a museum that preserves Welsh cultural roots and agricultural implements (Monday, Wednesday, Friday 3-6 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday 8 a.m.-noon. Tel.: 54-2963-492-251. Entry: $0.25).

Tour agencies in Trelew offer excursions to Dique Florentino Ameghino, a large hydroelectric dam nearly 80 kilometers (48 mi) west of Dolavon. The reservoir is popular for fishing. The adjacent village has an energy festival at the beginning of February. A museum about the dam will open soon.

Services

Dolavon has very limited services. Until the tourism office opens in the old railroad station on Avenida 25 de Mayo (across from the bus terminal and municipalidad, Tel.: 49-2008, E-mail: municipalidaddedolavo@infovia.com.ar, URL: www.dolavon.com.ar), the best source for information is Romano Giallatini at Antiguo Restaurant La Molienda.

Banco del Chubut is behind the tourism office (25 de Mayo and Sarmiento; ATM). On 28 de Julio are Carreo argentine and a locutorio-Internet café. The town also has a hospital, pharmacy and police post.

Hotels

  • Camping Municipal (MaipĂș s/n) – bathhouses, showers, fire pits; free. Open all year.
  • Alojamiento El Sol (San MartĂ­n 636, Tel.: 49-2218) - $14 per person with prĂ­vate bath; does not include breakfast.

Restaurants

Provisions may be bought at several small shops.

  • PizzarĂ­a-RotiserĂ­a Van Dar (MaipĂș, half-block south of Roca)
  • Bar Español (Roca and MaipĂș)
  • Antiguo Restaurant La Molienda (MaipĂș 61, Tel.: 49-2290, E-mail: romanogiallatini@speedy.com.ar)
  • Villa Dique de Ameghino (URL: www.florentino-ameghino.gov.ar) has very basic services, lodging, campgrounds and restaurants.

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Other places nearby Dolavon: Rawson , Playa Union , Trelew and Gaiman.







By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

09 Jul 2010

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