After two full stormy days at sea, cruising westward from South Georgia and across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, we arrived at the Falkland Islands! Despite the sea day entertainment – excellent presentations from our natural history staff, wandering albatrosses gliding around the ship, and watching as waves burst into spray from the bridge windows – no doubt it was a relief for many of us to step onto terra firma.
Expedition leader Lucho gave us a free afternoon in Stanley, the main city in the Falklands, with buses to shuttle us back and forth. Those from the US were disoriented with the driver on the left! We stepped into the quaint village, wandered its colorful streets, and observed the conspicuous British pride – Stanley’s 2,500 residents seem to fly as many Union Jack flags as you’d find in the whole of London. Those of us who didn’t duck straight into the Globe Tavern for a pint of the local Iron Lady IPA or the Waterfront Hotel for fish and chips, made it across town to the Falkland Islands Museum to learn about the local history and culture. Of course, this included the conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom, which began when Argentina invaded the Falklands on April 2, 1982, claiming the “Islas Malvinas” as their own – only to surrender to British forces 74 days later.
We returned to the ship for dinner, after which assistant expedition leader Ashley had prepared a delightful “globetrotter trivia” game for us in the lounge. We split into teams and puzzled over which nation is the only one on Earth without a rectangular flag, and what Southern Ocean animal has the scientific name Megaptera novaeangliae? Then we flopped into bed exhausted, for tomorrow promises a full day of activities around Stanley.