Throughout my adult life I have been able to use Esperanto on my travels. Some of those times overseas have been able to use Esperanto to good effect on my travels. When I spent a year in Bordeaux (1971-72) as an English assistant, it was thanks to Esperanto that I found a bed when I arrived. After an unpleasant night spent at Bordeaux railway station, I remember my joy when Sinjoro Lavallee, then the local representative of UEA and his wife came to find me and offer me more comfort, and a period of using Esperanto before adjusting to spoken French.
More than forty years later, and I still find Esperanto of great help when in another country, particularly when I have little grasp of the local language. For a little over two weeks in November and December I visited Argentina with the aim of visiting the Welsh-speaking community in Chubut province. I spent a few days in Buenos Aires, and there I took the opportunity of visiting a class at the offices of the national Esperanto organisation. I was able to explain a little about Britain and of Wales within it and get the insiders' view of this huge country. They were particularly welcoming and gave me my first taste of the local (very sticky!) cake.
After flying south to Patagonia, I was able to meet Leonardo, a biologist in Puerto Madryn. He hadn't been aware that the name of his home town was originally Porth Madryn! Together we visited the site where the Welsh colonists first came ashore in 1865.
After a couple of weeks in "Y Wladfa" where I could use Welsh with the descendants of the early settlers - although their Welsh was tinged with a Spanish accent - I flew back to Buenos Aires where I had the opportunity of taking coffee and sticky cake in the garden of Silvia Rottenberg, President of the Argentine Esperanto League. Silvia told me that Argentina is hoping to host the Universala Kongreso (World Esperanto Congress) in that country in 2014. I do hope their application is successful, because I would love an excuse to return.
Hilary with Leonardo at the spot where the first Welsh settlers landed in 1865; Hilary with Esperanto-speakers in Buenos Aires
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