Monday, December 04, 2006

The Falklands

With the ship crammed with Fids, it was a relief to arrive in the Falklands after only 4 days steam. The Shackleton would usually dock in Port Stanley, the islands’ capitol, but this year she is fully loaded and sitting too low for the narrow natural harbour. Instead we used Mount Pleasant military base, an hour’s drive to the north by dirt road.

While the crew were unloading cargo for Bas’ sister ship, James Clark Ross, we Fids were free to explore. We took the bus into Port Stanley each day and went walking, first to Mount Tumbledown overlooking the town, the scene of one of the key battles in the liberation of the Falklands in 1982. A memorial stands at the summit, with shell holes and abandoned Argentine military hardware providing further clues to the Islands’ history.

The rugged, bleak landscape reminded me of upland Wales. As did Stanley, the World’s smallest capitol, population ~2000. To call it a one-horse town would be generous, as ATMs, credit-cards and other trappings of the 20th century were noticeably absent. However, the place was spotlessly clean and the atmosphere friendly to us strangers.

Our second walk took us to the opposite side of the natural harbour, to a Gentoo penguin colony in Gypsy Cove. Many of the Islands’ stunning white beaches are out of bounds due to landmines, but the cove was safe so we sunbathed with the inquisitive penguins walking right up to investigate us. Inspired by the birds’ grace underwater, we dived into the sea to join them. Brief as it was, we all reckon swimming with dolphins is sooo last year.

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Anonymous Skinny Dave said...

Paradise lost? You're in a penguin pesterers paradise. Looks lovely down there in the South Atlantic, whereas up here in da Wales it wet and wild, but not in a good way.

9:47 am GMT  

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