In 1939, Richard Llewellyn published his novel How Green Was My Valley, set in a Welsh mining village during the reign of Queen Victoria. Two years later, the famed director John Ford turned it into a movie that won five Academy Awards, including best picture. In July of 1865, during the period in which the novel and picture were set, Welsh settlers also arrived in the Argentine territory of Chubut (now a full-fledged province) and, after a precarious beginning, gained a
foothold that helped transform the rugged frontier of the arid lower Chubut valley into a garden spot.
Still, it’s not quite true, as the Buenos Aires Herald recently suggested, that the Chubut valley “was so similar to their homeland.” Wales is a well-watered part of the United Kingdom, while eastern Chubut is a desert with, fortunately, a large river that irrigates its farms and fields, and even supplies a kelp-processing plant that’s the biggest industry of the tourist town of Gaiman. Still, Gaiman has its teahouses (as pictured here), the late Diana Princess of Wales was a celebrity guest in 1995, and it will even have its own cinematic moment. Welsh actor Matthew Rhys is the star of a new film entitled Patagonia, about “a thirty-something Welsh couple who travel to Argentina to reassess their relationship amid the Welsh settlements of Patagonia . . .” Rhys plays a Welsh-Argentine translator in the low-budget road film, a strong contrast with his conventional Hollywood TV and film work.