Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stanley, Falkland Islands

The Falklands lie 400 miles off the south eat tip of South America. Stanley, the Capital, is a tiny city of 1,900 on the eastern tip of East Falkland Island. In addition to East and West Falkland, there are 740 tiny islands. The Falklands remain a British protectorate after the 1982 Conflict between Argentina and Britain. If you're talking to an Argentine it is insensitive and inflammatory to refer the Islands as The Falklands; Isla Malvinas is the politically correct name. A number of unexploded ordinances and land mines remain still today.

Whale Ribs_Falkland 
Whale Rib Arch as entrance to the tiny town.

3,000 folks, mostly Brits, call The Falklands home; the penguin population outnumbers the people by 10 fold.  Its harbor is dotted with the hulks of whaling vessels that succumbed to the fierce winds and waves of the South Atlantic en route to and from Cape Horn.

Our cruise ship dropped anchor 2 miles out. The 150-person tenders (life boats) ferried passengers to and from the ship to the island. 

Kirk and I decided to walk to Gypsy Cove to catch a glimpse of some penguins up close and personal. We stopped to chat with an old chap out tending his flower garden. His hands were massive and his body and beard would qualify him as a perfect Santa. Having been on Island for 22 years, he gave us directions via a shortcut to Gypsy Cove although he wasn't able to tell us how far it was by time or distance. We asked every returning cruise person we passed, "How much further?" In German, English, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish accents it was always--"A hard hour and a half, at least an hour, if you walk fast, maybe 45 minutes." We had given ourselves until 2:30 at which time we knew we must turn around and head for the tender, especially since today's high wind would be a head wind on our return.

At 2:30 a young Japanese couple said it's only 10 more minutes. As we crested the brim of the next hill we could see the cove and taxis and tour busses waiting to carry returning passengers. Perfect. Kirk ran ahead and saved us a seat in a taxi while I hunted out a shot of these cuties.

Baby Burrowing Penguins_Falkland

We considered ourselves fortunate to have landed on one of the The Falklands' 115 days it doesn't rain or snow, the sun shines, and the wind is only high, rather than the other option--fierce. 

All the cars on Island are Land Rovers, and, of course,  they are driven on the left side of the road. Provisions are flown in from Chile or England on one of the two incoming weekly flights or by freighters that come ever month or two.

There are no trees on The Falklands, something about being in the rain shadow of the Andes than makes tree growing nigh impossible.

Roofs are made of corrugated steel and most often painted in Central American bright blues, reds, or yellows. I can only imagine what 250 days of rain sounds like on roofs of steel.

Currugated Roof_Falkland

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