Gaiman and Dolovan

Welsh Tea and an Eisteddfods

Gaiman 43°16' S. Lat. / 65°28' W. Long. Pop: 4,300 elev: 42’

Gaiman is a charming village on the Rio Chubut with many examples of Welsh architecture - simple brick construction and carved wood trim. A successful agricultural center, it is today more a bedroom community for Trelew since bus service is inexpensive, comfortable and frequent - about one hour each way. Welsh tea houses serving traditional afternoon tea is an experience that should not be missed. Signage with directions to the various tea houses is common - they're all good. Several Bed & Breakfast inns offer accommodations, but the number is small so do not count on a room without advanced reservations.

I visited Gaiman with Meirion Griffiths, the Welsh-Argentine singer I met in Trelew. He was singing that day in a mini Eisteddfods being held at the historic 1913 Bethel Church. Eisteddfods are competitions with all age groups represented, and this being Argentina, folkloric dancing as well as Welsh songs and poetry were on the agenda.

Bilingual Welsh/Spanish education is common in the Chubut Valley. During the past decade, the Welsh Assembly (the legislature of the Principality of Wales) has actively supported the perpetuation of Welsh language and culture. Welsh language teachers can apply for grants to spend a year working in Patagonian schools. Welsh language books are donated. It is to the credit of both the Welsh and Argentine education ministries that such programs exist. An excellent link is Glaniad , on cooperation between Wales and Argentina.

During a break in the Eisteddfods, we visited the fascinating Parque El Desafio, Calle Almirante Brown. The Park is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest park with exhibits created solely from recycled materials. Created as an amusement for his grandchildren, Joaquin Alonso spent twenty years, well into his 80’s, working on the dozens of gardens and recreations of landmarks, such as the Taj Majal, mostly out of recycled aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Since this was winter, I would like to see it in warm weather with plants.

The park has a double message as Joaquin Alonso’s philosophy on the wastefulness of modern technology takes form in satirical sculptures as well as statements from great classical minds - such as Plato and Shakespeare - to illustrate his feelings.

His daughter operates Parque El Desafio today and is equally interesting to engage in conversation about her father. Admission is AR$10 (US$2.75)

There are celebrations throughout the Chubut River valley on July 28th when Gwyl Glaniad, Landing Day, commemorates the 1865 arrival of the Welsh in Patagonia.

(Dona Alonso and Parque El Desafio)

Dolavon 43°18' S. Lat. / 65°43' W. Long.  Pop: 3000 elev: 42’

Dolavon, a 20 minute bus ride from Gaiman, is a pleasant rural village worth a few hours of your time. There are no accommodations, so an overnight is not possible. Until a few decades ago, Dolavon was a thriving wheat growing and flour mill town. Currently there are farms in the surrounding country side, but it’s mostly a pretty bedroom community for Gaiman and Trelew.

In the center of town is the canal that channeled water from the Chubut River to levies for farm irrigation. Today it’s a nice landscaped strip of park land. The surprisingly large and modern town hall is on the canal as well as a museum in an old brick warehouse that’s only opened in the summer. An old flour mill contained a museum of Dolavon rural life and what looked like an interesting restaurant - the only one - but both were closed and seem only open in the summer.

(old flour mill (seasonal museum and restaurant) and town hall)

(old canal warehouse and closeup of craftsmanship on lock)

(monument honoring Tehuelche assistance to the settlers)

You can locate Gaiman and Dolovan by viewing a map of Chubut province at: maps of Argentine provinces