South America is known for its close resemblance to Europe, so it should not be a surprise that the largest Welsh community beyond the United Kingdom was established in the Latin continent. The quaint village of Gaiman is just one four Welsh establishments in the Patagonia region of Argentina. It is located in the floodplain of Rio Chubat and is often described as a fertile oasis of green in the otherwise arid landscape.
It was founded in 1874 by settlers from Wales who left due to attempts by the British to suppress their language and religion. The non-conformists wanted freedom and immigrants were highly embraced at that time in Argentina to help populate the areas outside of the capital city, Buenos Aires. They struggled in developing their establishment, receiving aide from the Argentinian government at some points, but eventually succeeded. However, Argentina stepped in to govern and much of the Welsh culture disappeared, until Wales became a beacon of hope to help revive the community. They sent teachers to educate children and adults. This practice continues even today, helping the Argentinean-Welsh culture survive.
Gaiman, which is the largest Welsh population of the four towns, has maintained close ties to its European rootsâ€”evident in the townâ€™s architecture, culture and language. The town, which is roughly 6,000 in population, still has many who speak Welsh along with Spanish due to the descending generations keeping their culture alive and the continuing education. Every year the town celebrates its Welsh heritage during the â€śEisteddfod do Chubetâ€ť festival. Many celebrations are held in all the Patagonian Welsh towns throughout the year.
Residents welcome visitors to experience their culture. You can be served in authentic Welsh teahouses, which deliver a true taste of Wales with delectable cakes, pastries, tea and bara brith (a type of fruitcake). One can take a sight-seeing tour of the many Welsh Protestant chapels, especially Chapel Bethel, which is the largest. Visitors can even stop and look inside the furnished Primera Casa, an 1874 stone house still intact.
Those interested in archeology can explore the fossils at the Parque PaleontolĂłgico Bryn Gwyn, located 10 kilometers south of town. For the young (and young at heart), a visit to Parque El DesafĂo is well worth your time. This park, which contains whimsical structures constructed entirely from rubbish, is featured in the 1998 Guinness Book as the largest park made from recycled materials.
In Gaiman, there are hotels and bed and breakfasts for accommodation. You can even stay at Posada Los Mimbres, a farmhouse situated in natural beauty.
Whether you are merely passing through to the other sights and activities that Patagonia, Argentina has to offer, a traditional Welsh tea should be enjoyed.