Posted by: gardner310 | November 28, 2010

Falkland Islands


East Falkland

The only thing I knew about the Falklands was that in 1982 they and Britain were at war with Argentina and won.  Today I tendered ashore from the Veendam to make my first landing on the East Falkland in Stanley, the capital.  It reminds one a bit of Bermuda with the multicolored houses climbing the hillsides.  That is where the resemblance ends, however, since Bermuda is a lovely green island with gorgeous beaches and East Falkland is cold, windy treeless and covered with rocks.

I took an hour bus ride into the interior of the island on the relatively new roads (mostly gravel) all through the rock river beds.  There are no trees on the islands or no native animals.  The wind is to strong for trees to grow tall so the highest bush is about 4 feet high.  The last native animal (similar to a fox) is extinct but they are not sure exactly when that happened.  The word that comes to mind is bleak.

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These are a strong group of people, these Falklanders.  As our guide, Richard said, “You either love it or leave it.”  He migrated to the islands 50 years ago, has since raised a family and worked in different jobs, including his own milling company on the West Island.  His son went to university in England but is now back working in environmental studies.

Stanley is small, as capital cities go, but easy to get around.  It has the southernmost cathedral in the world.  The people are very friendly and speak English, of course, which makes it easy for North Americans with no foreign language skills to feel comfortable.  They use the Falkland pound that runs equivalent to the British pond.  Things are expensive here since so much has to be imported.  Vegetables are really pricy but meat, on the other hand, is cheap so it all evens out.

Falkland Sheep

Sheep are an industry here, wool first and then meat.  The lifespan of a sheep is about 7 years here because the grazing is not all that good as it is in Scotland or New Zealand.  We went to a farm where we were treated to a sheep shearing, peat harvesting technique and original gaucho style horse trappings.  Glenda and Neal host tourists at Long Island Farm when the season brings us to the island.  We had tea, coffee and home-baked goods in their home in front of the peat burning stove/oven from the 1980’s.  Interestingly, those stoves are now back in vogue and cost about 10 times what they did then.

Our host, Neil

I look forward to returning a few times before heading home since I still have to see the rock hopper pinguinos and poke around town for some handmade treasures.

Joanne in Stanley

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