So I’m off “lone wolf” to Argentina for three months. There are a few reasons for writing a blog. Firstly, my family holiday diary to New Zealand as a 6 year old was a decent read and I haven’t done one since. Secondly I might appreciate it one day when I’m old and past it… Perhaps the stories will make lugging my life about in a bag and the consequent hunchback worthwhile. Thirdly, my parents will probably appreciate knowing where I am on my sketchy nomad trip to see where about 150 Welsh men, women and children washed up over 150 years ago… And if nothing else it’ll be something to do on the the long lonely bus journeys.
The main reason for my trip is to visit Patagonia, a place that has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I’m looking for that little piece of Wales in South America, where Gonzalo Joneses and Juan Pablo Jenkinses are commonplace and where people drink mate* and Welsh cakes at teatime. It’s a complete no-brainer and it’s been top of my list of places to visit since my mamgu (gran) went on a choirboy tour back in the day (true story). After living in Madrid and having learnt Spanish, I’m in this lovely, bonkers situation where I’m about to travel 11,000km, and be able to start a sentence in Cymraeg, end it in Castellano, and be understood. Teidi.
When they go “What are you going to do out there?”. Paid gofyn. Good bloody question. Hence the blog. I’ll write as I go. But the Argentinians and Patagonians that I know have been nothing short of fantastic whilst planning this trip. As a girl travelling alone I understand the concerns and the questions and the warnings and the spooky stories and the advice and the lectures. I do. Yet it’s a tricksy balance between sounding blasé and being sat scared for 3 months: I’ll take heed of advice, I promise, even if it means leaving the lycra short-shorts at home and being a little more cynical than we’d like but this is a trip of a lifetime and I intend to see that I squeeze every bit of adventure out of it.
As I have no 90 days + working visa, there’ll be no paid work but I’ll be visiting and helping in any Welsh school that opens its doors to me; coaching a little bit of hockey/rugby (though I haven’t picked up a stick since my Erasmus year?!) and basically trying to live a little bit of the life as they do there. However, I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t travel around the place a bit. Type “Patagonia, Argentina” into Google images (Patagonia alone only brings you anoraks and rucksacks) and you’ll see what I’ve seen and know why I’m so keen to flit about as much as is financially and logistically possible.
The fun starts this afternoon, when I say tara to lovely Llandovery (which incidentally never gets any easier), fly from Bristol to Madrid, see some loved ones there for a few days before flying to Buenos Aires via a 8hour stopover in Heathrow. Don’t even ask, it just means I’m going with a significantly bigger pocketful of pennies. Start as you mean to go on, and no doubt it’ll be a few months jam packed full of fun, games and boarding passes.
Hasta pronto, boludos.
*Mate, or yerba mate, is a traditional South American caffeine-rich drink, very popular particularly in Argentina.