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Buenos Aires and Patagonia.

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In late September we were lucky enough to go to Argentina for a nearly a month. We went there to do a series of gigs as well as workshops in some of the welsh communities in Patagonia.

A lot of the trip was filmed, and it will hopefully be cut into a film of some kind soon.

We bumped into some people in Manchester Airport, turned out Gethin Evs, Gwion Sgiv and Kate were catching flights to different places at the same time we were catching our connecting flight to Amsterdam.

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No idea who the guy in the back is, but fair play, he hijacked the photo pretty brilliantly.

We landed in Buenos Aires after a long flight and had 6 days there to do pretty much what we wanted. We ate a lot, drank a bit and walked for miles.

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We somehow found our way inside the Boca Juniors stadium. Someone had somehow left a big garage-like door open that led straight to the pitch and it was a welcomed sight for us and quite a few of the local kids.

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A few days later we went on a bus for 20 hours down to Chubut. We were staying in a small town called Gaiman for nearly ten days. We recorded some tracks in Hector Ariel’s studio ‘Bryn Alaw’, did a few radio interviews, the favorate being Luned and Tegai’s weekly show. We also did some gigs in restaurants and bars and did a lot of workshops in different schools and saw a bar where apparently Butch Cassidy and Sundance one drank and slept.

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It was pretty strange hearing Argentinians speaking Welsh with such an accent at first, but we then became used to it. It’s amazing how the language has survived there. After a while you realise that they are just normal Argentines that happen to speak Welsh. But they are unbelievably proud of their Welsh background and a lot of the people we met had been here. Some of them even had 100% Welsh blood, and we met one person who had learned Welsh before Spanish even.

Lois, who did all the preparation work on that side even sorted a big screen and projector so that we could watch the Wales V Serbia football World Cup qualifier, but the less said about that the better.

We had an amazing welcome in Gaiman. Billy, Martin and Ricardo showed us around the local farms and made us an asado, and by the end of the week we really had begun to feel at home there.

We then travelled on an overnight bus west towards the Andes. We slept throughout most of the journey and it was pretty spectacular waking up as the sun came up with the Andes all around us.

Iwan Madog, who had sorted everything there for us took us  around Esquel and Trefelin. We did a lot of workshops in different schools where quite a few couldn’t speak Welsh or English. It was actually great. Our Spanish was limited at best (in fact Iwan was convinced that my Spanish got worse as the trip got on) but it was a nice way of working. and we even got all of them to sing the welsh song ‘Ar Lan y Mor’.

We sang with a choir as backing vocalists, ate a lot of Pizzas, went to the national park with Claire and Victor, and met loads of interesting people. Isias, who lives there but is originally from Buenos Aires, took us up the mountains to see a Welsh Gaucho (!) and his son who had built an aeroplane and a steam engine (!!). He talked to us about engines in Spanish, and the only thing we understood was that ‘Fiat is shit!’.

We did a gig in a bar in Esquel with a crazy band that wore wrestling masks, and they were good. They were kind enough to offer us their instruments, which we gracefully accepted because I hadn’t seen a drum kit in nearly a month and Aled had a thing going with the double bass he saw in sound check. But Iwan didn’t take to the Argentinian guitar tuner, and two songs in we realised that it was on the ‘Charango’ setting. Lord knows how we sounded before that. But it was pretty funny seeing Iwan break down on stage, which doesn’t happen often. I think he had a genuine fright that he had lost all ability to tune. At one pint he turned around with the look of a man that had lost the will to live and said ‘I just cant do this’.

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We then went out all night before catching a bus and made our way up to Buenos Aires for our flight back home.

Argentina is pretty damn cool.

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