Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hello from the Falkland Islands!

Dear Family & Friends,

This may be my most challenging blog. It is hard to write an exciting story about an island that is one large rock with sheep and penguins…. Today we are visiting the Falkland Islands!
Our ship set anchor outside the Falklands  harbor because it is to big to go in! We are lucky today that the weather is good (for the Falklands). The last two cruise ships that arrived there all they could do was look at the islands from the ship since the ocean was too rough to go ashore. To get to the island they lower the life boats and we ride them in. Since it is Friday the 13th and we are riding on life boat number13 what could possibly go wrong?? The ride to shore is about two miles and the seas were not too choppy so we arrived all excited.
The Falklands look like a small English fishing village. The island is about 130 miles long. There are 2900 people living there and 45,000 sheep. 1700 people live in the capital city, Stanley and the rest on sheep farms. We walked around the town a bit and almost everyone we talked to was born and raised there and loved it there. Wouldn't consider leaving. Bonnie and I both felt the charm of the place and the relaxed pace of life, it was very appealing. 
After a quick walk about we went on a tour to the penguin mating grounds… 99% of the vehicles on the island are Land Rovers so off we went on an adventure! It was about five miles of pavement and gravel before we sent seriously off road. I have to say crossing the bogs and terra to get to the coast was half the fun of the day! Our driver had a great sense of humor and loved his Land Rover. At one point we even got into a cross country race with another Rover. All of us were bouncing around as we went bounding across the peet, bogs, and rocks that make up the Falkland landscape.
Along the way we passed a barren mountain that was the main battlefield for the 1982 Falklands war. When you see this and you think about 1000 men losing their lives battling over a wind blown rock you appreciate the insanity of wars…
It was sad also that there were still vast fields filled with land minds left over from the war. You could see men in bomb suites still cleaning the fields.. They brought in men from Lebanon and Zimbabwe  to do this work. How bad is it in those countries that men would travel half way around the world, live on a  wind blown rock, and dig bombs out of the ground???
Once we got to the penguins they did not disappoint. Such cute animals with a lot of character… If you go to my blog you will see the finest collection of photos I have ever taken of penguins in the wild… (may be the only ones too).
After an hour of watching penguins and getting wind blown (now the wind was starting to kick up. 50 mph winds were expected that day) we walked down the beach to a tea and biscuit shop. A warm cup of tea, a scone, and protection from the wind never felt so good.
From there our driver and his Land Rover picked us up and we started the trek back. Since he and I are both car guys we started extolling the virtues of the Land Rover. That’s when he decided to show us what a REAL Land Rover (no sissy Discos or Range Rovers) could do and we went further off the path and found some rivers to cross, some bluffs to climb, and some really rutty trailers to go down while racing another party back to the main road. He was telling me there is a contest on the island each year with a booby prize for the driver that gets stuck the most in the bogs. So far he hadn't gotten stuck…
From there we went back to Stanley and warmed up with some real British fish and chips. The island culture is 100% British. A few years ago they say there was a referendum vote to decide if they should remain part of Britain or go with Argentina ( I think they did it just to appease the Argentines). The vote was 2897 for Britain and 3 for Argentina. They told me they are still hunting down the three people who voted for Argentina!
After lunch we did some souvenir shopping. We had to, how often are going to be in the Falklands. Beside they had some really tasteless items.. I got a penguin shaped hat to wear in my three wheeler Morgan just so I can look a bit more silly than I already do…..
After that it was back on to the tender boat for the trip back to the ship. By late afternoon the seas where no longer calm and we had quite the exciting ride back to the ship bouncing around as the boat was tossed around like a toy is a bath tub!
Luckily we made it back in time for cocktails and a relaxing evening. Tomorrow we set sail further south! Next stop is Beagle Island, named after the ship Charles Darwin sailed on and then through the straights of Magellan and down the wester side of Argentina to the city of Ushuaia. We will spend Sunday there. It is the farthest southern city in the world! You can almost see Antartica from there!
The captain of the ship explained that we were going through the straights of Magellan rather than around the tip because the waves were currently about 35 feet out there. I was quite concerned because a 35 foot wave could easily tip my Margarita over!
Check out my blog for a great collection of penguin photos and the Falkland Islands.
Until our next stop, signing out!
All aboard the might #13 to the Falklands!

We've made it!

Lucky #13 of Friday the 13th

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Downtown Stanley.. Watch out for the crowds and traffic?!?!?!

A local hot spot for entertainment...

Every shop offer multiple services...

The most beautiful woman on the Falkland Islands!!

A bit of Britain everywhere..

The first sign of penguins,,,, foot prints everywhere.

This is a monument to the workers who built the main road around the island... their work boots.

A warning area of a battlefield and mine field.

Can you imagine fighting and dying over this mountain? This was the main battlefield of the Falkland's war..

Land Rover EVERYWHERE!! I think I am going to move here and open up and parts and service shop for Land Rovers??

No traffic here..

These are giant rock fields caused by glaciers that came through here 10,000 years ago..

Roads and bridges?? We don't need so stickin' roads!

Bonnie's penguin impression, except cuter... :)

The Krumholz sisters...

This is what baby penguins look like for the first year.. Almost like a bear cub... :)

Did I mention they have sheep here too??

What road??

The race was on!! Pedal to the metal heads banging against the roof!

Real off roading.

These stone corals were built around 1800 by the original settlers..

Our ship awaiting just outside the harbor..

A monument to the Falkland Wars and Margrit Thatcher.

The biggest hotel in town

Not quite so smooth going back..

The local news paper.. Printed on a 17"x11" folded it half, once a week. Not much news here. Not sure why they need a paper anyways. Everyone knows everyone and they all talk.

This monument is made from the jaw bones of whales!

Best place in town for fish and chips.

Land Rovers everywhere!

Hard to capture how much we were getting tossed around!

Proof we were here!

Had to take a photo of this fine ship,,,, it is the HMS JASON!

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