About the book
It is 1865 and, impoverished and oppressed in their own country, a desperate group of Welsh colonists set sail for a land flowing with milk and honey; a place they have been promised, of meadows and tall trees, where they can build a new Wales. What they find after a devastating sea journey is a cold, South American desert already occupied by tribes of nomadic Indians, possibly intent on massacring them.
Settler Silas James soon fears he has been tricked for another man's impossible dream. But despite his hatred of the politically adept and obsessive Edwyn Owen, and under the watchful eye of Indian shaman Yeluc, a new culture takes root as an old one passes away. Together they ensure that the colony survives - but only by sacrificing almost all that they love.
In the middle of the cold desert of Patagonia, South America, there is a collection of small communities that look strangely out of place. Their first language is not Spanish but Welsh. They have chapels, high teas and folk festivals. When Princess Diana went there she was made especially welcome: she was, after all, their princess. Bruce Chatwin described his encounter with them in his book 'In Patagonia', but despite this the history of Great Britain's last successful colony is little known.
Minister's House in Gaiman, Patagonia.
In order to write my story of the colonisation I not only read several accounts of what happened, but also travelled alone across Patagonia, studied Welsh and trained to be a shaman - the last in order to understand the culture of the people they displaced.
Map of South America and my journey from Rawson (A) at the Atlantic coast to Esquel in the Andes (B)
The result is a novel - my interpretation of how it may have been to have been one of those colonists.
Cwm Hyfred (Beautiful Valley) in the Andes (photo given to me by one of the descendants of the settlers, Douggie Lloyd).