We made it into the Falklands!! In 2020 weather prevented us from landing here and we were all very disappointed. The chance of getting in here because of the weather is about 50/50, so there were a lot of crossed fingers, thumbs and toes!! I guess it worked and the weather was comfortable. Windy. Always. But not too cold today. Jacket was open and hat and gloves came off!!
NOTE: I hated to leave Antarctica. I just wanted to see more and more, but the ship has a schedule. I will post more about Antarctica. There was a lot to process there and I think I have a billion photographs. Stay tuned.
And so onto the Falklands. I guess the thing that struck me first is that it is a rather forlorn looking flattish rock in the middle of the ocean. One would wonder why anyone would even want to fight over this desolate piece of land. As we came into the harbour and its capital of Stanley, the houses reminded me somewhat of Greenland with their colourful roofs. But in town, there were some beautiful homes and a lovely church mixed in amongst the more utilitarian buildings.
I was on a tour to Bluff Cove Lagoon Penguin Reserve recommended by my dear friends Chris & Dave and they were not wrong. It was wonderful. I finally got to see my first King Penguins and a few gentus & Magellanic as well. Lots of babies waiting for their mommas to come back and feed them after searching for food for in the ocean. Many youngsters in different stages of their fluffy down are not able to get into the water themselves until that down disappears or else they drown. But so cute and curious and patient.
Bluff Cove is a privately owned farm with belted Galloway cows, sheep, ducks and of course the penguins who just own the seashore area and right there beside the penguins is the best little English tea room, called the Sea Cabbage Cafe, serving tea & coffee and homemade goodies including scones with clotted cream and the local Diddle Berry jam. Add in a beautiful little gift shop, all with homemade items from the Falklands or the UK – no Made in China here!! The woollen products are all made with the wool from the sheep living on the island and they say it is the best wool in the world. They are also noted for their tweed.
Aside from all the fun of seeing the penguins and visiting the tea room, I was so impressed with the people of the Falklands. They are so proud of having won the Falklands war against the Argentinians even though they were really the underdogs. But then again when it comes to battles, I think you can’t beat the British for strategy. Remember the war of 1812 when the British (Upper Canada) beat the Americans. Although General Brock had few troops, he just kept marching the same men around and around, intimidating the Americans into thinking he had a huge army.
So why did the Argentinians and the British fight over the Falklands?? It doesn’t seem like a very strategic military location. And I don’t believe there is an abundance of natural minerals or other valuable assets other than perhaps fishing. Well it seems, Argentina invaded the Falklands, a British colony that had been ruled by the UK for almost 150 years, since the mid 1800s, because the military junta was suffering criticism for its oppressive rule and economic management. So dictator Lieutenant General Leopoldo Galtieri planned the invasion as a means of “promoting patriotic feelings and propping up his regime.” They invaded the island, planted hundreds of thousands of land mines all over the place and then the British navy showed up and the rest is history. A British victory and the fall of the military junta which resulted in the transition to democracy in Argentina. Even so, up until today Argentina still claims sovereignty over the islands which they call the Malvinas.
The island also held a referendum that allowed people to vote on whether they wanted to stay with Britain or go with Argentina. It was an overwhelming 99.8% vote to remain with Britain. By the way, they asked Canada to come in and oversee the referendum. I told our tour guide that we (Canadians) do know something about referendums!!
In November 2020, after nearly 40 years, the Falklands was finally declared free of all the land mines that were planted during the war of 1982. I believe only two sheep, two people and several injuries resulted from land mines. A team funded by the UK and carried out by a team of specialists, many from Zimbabwe did the painstaking work. You will remember Princess Diana was very active in promoting the destruction of all land mines and today Britain believes there are no anti-personnel mines on any of its territories around the world.
Generally the residents of the Falklands are well supported by the UK. They have schools, medical care and hospitals and if they are ill and treatment is not available there, they can go to places like Punta Arenas in Chile or back to England, but they are not welcome in Argentina. They are subsidized while under treatment. The same with schooling. They have travelling school teachers that go out to the farms and remote areas and teach children until the age of eleven. Then the students move to a hostel in Stanley to finish their schooling and are looked after by “house parents”. If they wish to go on to university, they must pass exams and the government pays for schooling and living expenses in the UK. However, ninety percent of the students return to the Falklands.
I finished my visit to the Falklands, 400 miles off the south east coast of South America and consisting of approximately 740 islands, at a typical British pub with a glass of wine and a typical British meal of fish & chips with peas and malt vinegar.
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