A PROJECT which aims to explore and celebrate the lives of a Welsh colony living in South America is off to a flying start.

27-year-old Stephanie Davies of Cardigan travelled to Patagonia in Argentina two weeks ago, following in the footsteps of 153 Welsh men and women who set sail for the continent in 1865 in a bid to preserve the Welsh language and culture.

There are more than 50,000 Welsh descendants living in Patagonia today, and 12,000 still speak Welsh as their first language.

Stephanie, who is an experienced researcher, aims to create a better understanding of the Welsh Patagonians by interviewing and interacting with the local people.

The end result will be made up of film, text, photographs, and audio, which will go on display at Cardigan Castle.

For the last two weeks Stephanie has been staying in Trevelin and Esquel on the Andes side of Patagonia.

She said: Trevelin really is worth a visit. The scenery and people are just incredible. I have received such a warm welcome.

“My first day was spent at a wedding where I managed to meet all of the locals, sing Calon Lan and dance the Argentine tango.

“I have interviewed and filmed over 25 interesting characters who have all had a fascinating story to share - from Welsh Gaucho’s to teachers, and of all ages from 12 to 95.

“I have visited the Welsh school in Trevelin and Esquel, had lunch with the Welsh affairs committee, eaten more cake, bara, menyn and jam than you can imagine, and have discovered how much effort the local people really put into keeping the Welsh language and culture alive.

“I spent time in a primary school in Trelew and a secondary school in Gaiman, peeking in on the Welsh lessons to find out what they learn over here."

Over the next two weeks Stephanie will be staying in Gaiman, and visiting Trelew and Puerto Madryn, where the Mimosa carrying the Welsh emigrants sailed into 149 years ago.