When we first planned on backpacking through Patagonia, we did what many others do and got our copy of Bruce Chatwin’s classic “In Patagonia”. We heard that it can be a bible for people retracing his steps. One place that stood out to us, especially Steven, was the town of Gaimen. The description of a Welsh settled town with tea rooms serving real tea and cake made Gaiman a must stop for us. Luckily for us it also turned out to be only 80km from Puerto Madyrn and only 17km from Trelew.
Gaiman : A Welsh Settlement
South America of is a land filled with settlers. Argentina trended to be the entrance for many nationalities into this new world. That was no exception for the Welsh. They settled in Gaiman and held onto their customs. Generations have passed. The original Welsh families have mixed with other nationalities and, as a result, what made Gaiman truly Welsh has started to fade. However, they do still celebrate their origins. It is possible to find tea rooms serving real tea and homemade cakes from family recipes. Every September the town also celebrates with a literary and music festival called Eisteddfod. We heard that there are still choirs singing the traditional hymns from the motherland. Unfortunately, we didn’t see this.
The Tea Rooms of Gaiman
Upon returning back to town from our visit to the Bryn Gwyn palaeontology park we were desperately in need to escaping the midday heat. We started trying to hitch a ride. In case we didn’t believe Gaiman is a welsh village we were about to be reminded. The car which stoped for us was driven by a ginger 20-something year old. Quite obviously a descendant of the settlers. He had no words of Welsh or English but dropped us off at one of the few tea rooms.
Now imagine the prospect for an Irish man to be faced with all you can eat cake and all you can drink tea, real tea. It was enough for Steven to feel homesick for the first time. It also gave him tea cravings for the next few weeks.
When they say all you can eat and all you can drink, they really mean it! The friendly staff brought out a tray filled with typical Welsh black cake, cream pie, walnut cake, apple pie, chocolate cake with cream, and tarts with fruits, regional butter, scones and homemade bread. After a second go at the delicious creme pie, which Jenny fell in love with, and as the tea sweats began. It was time to head back to Trelew after an excellent detour.
A farm dog story
We have never been afraid of dogs. But walking by one farm just outside of town was enough to forget that dogs could be nice.
As we were walking back to Gaiman from the palaeontology park of Bryn Gwyn, a collie came running towards out of nowhere, no biggie right? No, it didn’t stop…
It came uncomfortably close, baring all of its teeth and ferociously barking. We thought if we kept walking it would go back to the farm but for what felt like an eternity the damned thing never left, never stopped barking and genuinely scared the shite out of us.
For what ever reason it eventually stopped, maybe it realised we weren’t a threat or maybe it got bored, but it eventually stopped.
After this we learned some tactics to keep aggressive dogs away. Its a must for walking around anywhere in South America.
What else to do around Gaiman and Trelew ?
In Gaiman you can also visit the Palaentologic park called Bryn Gwyn. Entrance was free at the time of our visit and is situated 8 km from the town (we hitch-hiked). It is a sort of desert where you can find fossils that are 40 millions year old. The entire area was once part of the Atlantic Ocean seabed. Follow this link to read more.
In 2011, a farmer reported to the MEF (Paleontological Museum Egidio Feruglio) the discovery of bones about 260 km from the city of Trelew. The palaeontologists in charge of the discovery, extracted, protected and transported what looked like to be one of the biggest fossilised bones ever found on earth. Here is the story and the visit of the MEF Museum of Trelew.
Costs and useful information
Exchange rate (average): €1 = 16.38 ARS
Bus Puerto Madryn – Trelew: 63.5 ARS (€3.87 pp)
Bus Trelew – Gaiman (return): 64 ARS (€3.90 pp)
Hotel “City” in Trelew – Double: 700 ARS (€43 pn)
note: there is a hostel in Trelew but we left after the owner tried to put us in a room with a screaming baby.
Entrance – Bryn Gwyn paleontological park: Free + hitch-hike to/from Gaiman – MEF website (in charge of the park)
Welsh tea – all you can eat/drink: 270 ARS (€16.50 pp)
** note that all the links we add are FYI. We are not remunerated by either the companies/organisations nor per click.
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