Tucked away in the Patagonia region of Argentina is a little-known Welsh colony with a long, rich history. On the cusp of the colony’s 150th anniversary, Steph Davies, driven by a story her Nan once told her about this place, decided to visit the colony for ten weeks in order to document its history. Here, she Davies found that people were warm and inviting and more than happy to share their stories with her. She met everyone from descendants of the first settlers to young teachers who moved to the area to teach Welsh. Through the openness of the people she met, Davies was able to compile a heavy index of interviews and stories that reflected the culture, values, and pride of Welsh Patagonia. Though some books about Welsh Patagonia already existed, Davies found them “extremely dense and unapproachable.” She made it her mission to record a concise and digestible yet engaging account of the colony’s history.
After several hours of looking for a second-hand bookshop in Dieppe I found one. Its location had been revealed to me by an obliging dealer in antiques whose own shop was at the opposite end of town. ‘Find the church and then you’ll find what you’re looking for,’ she instructed. She was speaking literally, I surmised, and not in terms of a spiritual quest.
Sun faded paperbacks, some with nihilistic titles such as Rien by Henry Green, had been left in the shop window. Their condition had been sacrificed in order for them to entice arty customers. Not that any could be enticed when the shop was closed, as the drawn blind bluntly indicated it was. A neighbouring shopkeeper was quick to register my frustration. There were no scheduled opening times but the shop certainly would open, she assured me, ‘after lunch mid-afternoon.’ Already it was ‘after lunch mid-afternoon’, but I was encouraged all the same to wait. In any case, I had hours to kill before my ferry would leave France.