Here be Welshmen

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South America » Argentina » Buenos Aires
March 10th 2006
Published: March 10th 2006EDIT THIS ENTRY

You know when you´ve been tangoedYou know when you´ve been tangoedYou know when you´ve been tangoed

This sort of thing happens all the time
First things first: an apology. It appears that David Coleman is not dead after all, although I don´t know how I was expected to know that considering how far away I am.

There have also been requests for more extracts from the local guide book to the Chilean island of Chiloe, so here´s an example under the heading ´Popular Medicine':

Prepared a tea in a pot
without cap is good for
the tungs and the cof

Or how about this yummy serving suggestion under ´Comidas Tipicas´(typical food):

'La Harina Tostada Sazonada´

The plate with Toasted Fluor
with grease and hot water, is another
traditional food for breakfast

Lastly, this one comes under ´Superstitions of Good Future':

When two people widying tie and they touch the tooth pick,
means they are going to be midwifes

We had a lovely time on Chiloe, after which we spent a few days touring the spectacular Lake District further north, then headed back across the Andes to Argentina. In Bariloche, the hotel manager saw my surname and told me there were loads of people called Jones in a nearby small town called El Manso. As everyone knows, the
Houses in CastroHouses in CastroHouses in Castro

They´re called palafitos and they´re built on stilts
Welsh were the first to settle the vast and bleak terrain of Patagonia, and now I wanted to see whether there was still any evidence of them to be found. For one reason or another we didn´t make it to El Manso, but the guidebook referred to another small town called Trevelin which was founded by a Welshman called John Evans, so off we went.

At Trevelin, after visiting a very enjoyable Welsh teashop which served scones and proper leaf tea with milk (Bridget was ecstatic), we walked round the corner to the famous Tumba de Malacara. This is a monument built by Evans to his horse, whose athletic leaps saved him from a marauding band of Mapuche indians. We were greeted by an earnest young man in a beret who introduced us to Evans´s granddaughter Ceri, now an old lady. I asked him whether there were any Joneses in town.

´Si, more Jones!' he replied, ´You look in the book of telephones, you see many page of Jones, also Evans, Edwards, Morgan, Griffiths, Roberts, Davies, Hopkins, Humphries, MacDonald -'

'MacDonald? That's Scottish'. A worried look came over his face. He dashed into a wooden kiosk and

That´s me preparing to tackle Chiloe´s fearsome local specialty
came out brandishing some neatly printed pages. It was the full story of John Evans and cost 30 pesos, which seemed a bit steep. I thanked him and said I already knew the story from Bruce Chatwin´s wonderful 'In Patagonia'.

Incidentally, a couple of miles up the road in the tiny village of Cholila is the cabin shared by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for four years as they hid from the Pinkerton detectives.

Here in Buenos Aires we have been staying in a beautiful rented apartment with our friends Steve and Tricia.

Some typical BA sights:

People tangoing in the street wherever someone has set up a music player; dog walkers (paseaperros) exercising up to ten of the wretched creatures at once; poor folks who go around looking for rubbish to recycle (cartoneros), and push the collected cardboard, glass and metal around in overloaded shopping trolleys (one of which narrowly missed my foot when it overturned on a street corner, spilling its load of cast-iron sinks.

Yesterday we visited the National Historical Museum, which is devoted almost entirely to portraits of frowning generals and the wars which occupied them throughout the 19th century.
Flying the flagFlying the flagFlying the flag

So what if Wales have been getting thrashed on the rugby field? They´ve got an empire to maintain, dammit
You realise that large countries like Argentina didn´t just come about through friendly negotiation. The notorious Julio Roca, for example, was the geezer who organised the slaughter of Argentina´s remaining indigenous population in the 1870s. He later survived an assassination attempt, became President, and was still around in 1899 to have his photograph taken.

Last night we met up with our friends Selma and Jeroen at a jazz club called Notorious. Halfway through the evening the music was interrupted by what I initially took to be some nearby Scotsman´s ringtone - Scotland The Brave at ear-splitting volume. On glancing up at the stage I was horrified to see a real-life Scotsman with a real-life set of bagpipes. And yes, it was some pervert´s idea of musical fusion. Bah!

(Apparently the Dutch word for bagpipes is doedelzak -'doodle-sack´).

Additional photos below
Photos: 6, Displayed: 6


A friendly armadillo on Peninsula Valdez, PatagoniaA friendly armadillo on Peninsula Valdez, Patagonia
A friendly armadillo on Peninsula Valdez, Patagonia

They´ve got no sense of fear! (or maybe just no sense)

There´s a lot more nothingness where this came from

2nd April 2006

shut up
i'm still waiting in the pub for you. did you say you would be along shortly or that you were going to south america for six months. see you soon. p.s shut up

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