The Falkland Islands
Trip Start Jan 15, 2009
16Trip End Feb 03, 2009
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For the two previous days, we have been at sea en route to the Falkland Islands. We had time to relax and enjoy ourselves for a couple days and catch up on sleep! Tammy spent several hours each day in the gym and Evan explored the ship extensively. We enjoyed movies, musicians, tango dancers, lectures on South America and Antarctica wildlife and geography.
This morning, we awoke at anchor in the Falkland Islands. We had been warned that, due to the common extreme weather and harsh seas, 1 out of every 2 ships that attempt to make this port is unsuccessful. We were fortunate to not only be able to make the port, but we had the nicest weather the crew had ever seen. It was a beautiful sunny day. Ships have to go to anchor about 2 miles out from the jetty and transport passengers to the land via small boats called tenders. The harbor is littered with shipwrecks.
There are approximately 3,000 people who live in the archipelago (group of islands) known as the Falklands. There are about 10 times that many penguins. Stanley is the capital city of this British-owned country and half of all Falklanders live here. Because it is an actual country and not just a territory, it has its own government, money and stamps. There is only one post office in the world that sells their beautiful stamps and one bank that uses the Falkland pound as its currency. We bought many stamps, mailed postcards and exchanged US dollars for Falkland pounds to add to Evan's world coin collection.
We went to Gypsy Cove, where about 200 pairs of Magellanic penguins live. Many were in their burrows but the ones that came out and waddled around were sooooo cute that you want to pick them up. You're certainly not allowed to touch them in any way though. We also saw many species of albatross and petrels. We'd hoped to be able to see elephant seals, but they live too far away from Stanley to see them during a day trip.
In 1982, the Argentines invaded the Falklands in an attempt to take ownership from the British. Their occupation lasted 78 days. When the British military finally arrived on the islands, they quickly defeated the Argentines. During this conflict many land mines were planted around the island, many of which remain to this day. Signs throughout the islands advise of the threat and of suspect areas. Before going ashore we were coached on what to look for and avoid. This is one of few places where we didn't try to stray off the beaten path. There are also cannons, turrets, artillery, etc. left from this time.
Upon return to Stanley, we had lunch in a very British pub called the Globe. We walked around town and saw a couple monuments, one celebrating the liberation from the Argentine occupation and one honoring those that lost all. We toured the national museum where much of the islands' history and wildlife were documented. We also went to an arch made of the jaws of a whale, marking the Falklands past time as a whaling port. Whaling, of course, was outlawed about 50 years ago.
By the time we were back on board the ship, we were exhausted. We slept soundly as the ship headed south overnight.