dimecres, d’agost 24, 2005

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 24 - Saturday 7.30.05

The first day of the Eisteddfod!

Sometimes when it rains in Wales, you just have to make the best of it. Today it was raining, and when it wasn't raining, the water still lay about the Eisteddfod field in minor great lakes and muddy quagmires of impressive volume. The pants that I wore today have been christened Eisteddfod pants, and until the Maes (the field) dries up, I'm not wearing another pair of pants!

The rain did dampen my enthusiam though. I got to the Maes and got a decent parking spot and made my way to the Pabell y Dysgwyr, the Learners Tent where I had some free coffee and a very interesting conversation with a young Welsh language hip hop artist named Craig Jones from Yr Wyddgrug. You never really know who you will meet when you go to the Eisteddfod. Then I hopped between raindrops and navigated the recently formed bayous and backwaters of the Maes to see what and whom I could see. Among my stops was the Cymdeithas Cymru-Llydaw, the Wales Brittany Society where I got to try out some of my rudimentary Breton. I also went to the Cyngor y Llyfrau, the Books Council and inspected some books I planned on buying in the fullness of time.

A little after 1, I was starting to get hungry, and wandered over to the far side of the Maes where I found Arturo Roberts, publisher of NINNAU, the North American Welsh paper, and the Cymdeithas Cymru-Ariannin, the Wales-Argentina Society. A little known fact to most people outside of Wales is that in the 1860's, a group of Welsh emmigrants left for Patagonia in what today is southern Argentina. They had it in mind to form their own Welsh Republic, but eventually succumbed to the will of the central government in Buenos Aires. I stopped and chatted with the Cymru-Ariannin folks, and then with Olga and Arturo. Both Olga and Arturo, who now live in the United States, come from Patagonia and Welsh colony, known in Welsh simply as y Wladfa, the Colony. After chatting with them I investigated one or two more booths before wandering over to the nearest food tent.

I grabbed a Guiness and a lamb burger and saw Arturo and Olga also having their lunch and asked if I could join them. Arturo and I continued with our conversation from earlier, as we usually do, half in Welsh, half in Spanish. With the coming of the afternoon, I returned to the Pabell y Dysgwyr and watched Never Mind the Bocs perform, a group who does more or less traditional folk music. Once their concert was finished, I got them to pose for a picture and then picked my way through the recently formed Everglades back to my car.

Incidentally, this years Eisteddfod was held on the Faynol, or Vaenol estate that lies on the road between Caernarfon and Bangor, just north of the small village of Felinheli, and behind a seven mile long wall. The front of its land faces the Menai Strait and the imposing Plas Newydd Estate on Ynys Môn across the water. The estate is now basically an office complex and concert venue, but throughoput most of the 20th century it was at the heart of many local mysteries and rumors, not the least of which being that the lady of the house was indeed a lesbian. For allt he fuss that people made about the place though, in reality, as far as estates go, it was no Plas Newydd, and was only a little classier than JR's fictional Southfork. The grounds themselves are vast and pleasant, but the house is, for a manor house, rather a let down: fairly small and quite plane.

All its pretense and historical riches aside, it was still liable to the rain, and the path back to the car was muddier by far than the trek in had been. I journeyed back down to Tai'n Lôn and ane evening of hot tea and a coal fire to dry out.