Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stanley, Falkland Islands

We landed this morning in the port of Stanley (pop. 2115 people), Falkland Islands. We took a short bus tour (with a funny local guide) through the town to see such curiosities as the peat moss farm (used as fuel), the museum, areas fenced off due to land mines (from the 1982 war), assorted wild birds and so on. Then we walked up and down the 2 main streets looking in shops and trying to find some vegetarian food. Lunch was just so so, but we did luck out and get some snacks at the grocery store. I did see a one footed water bird that was doing quite well; I wonder what is his story? Lots of cats around as well but I am pretty sure there is no connection to ol’ one foot, as the bird is pretty large.

The Falkland Islands are a British Overseas Territory in which the local government takes care of internal affairs and Britain takes care of external issues and defense. They have their own currency which is equal to the British pound. We learned about the 1982 Falklands War and visited a memorial to the fallen British soldiers. Essentially Argentina forces invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands on April 12, 1982 until they were overcome by British forces on June 14, 1982. Over 250 British soldiers, and an estimate of over 600 Argentina soldiers died.  Argentina was claiming ownership of the islands while Britain has maintained administration of the Falklands since 1833. Prior to this, it is reported that English navigator John Davis first sighted the islands and in 1690 British Captain John Strong made the first recorded landing. There were no Indigenous peoples in the Falklands, when the British landed.

Then we had the bright idea to walk back to the port to get on the ship. You know when movies show those mirages in the desert where the water just seems right in front of you but you never seem to get there? It seemed like the boat was so close but we walked for quite a while in the rain. About 3/4 of the way back a local gentleman took pity on us and offered us a ride. He said he could tell we were from out of town. Like the hitchhiking incident in Thailand, I figured the walk back was more of a risk that accepting the ride. :) He was a lovely fellow and dropped us right at our boat.

Tomorrow we will start to explore some of the further out areas and see the local wildlife such as Rockhopper Penguins.

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