Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Falkland Islands


Today I woke to see grey rain of unknown temp outside the stateroom window, but this was expected, predicted and in fact normal. The local time is currently seven (DUH – I thought till just this second that it was eight but this again works in my favor). Anyhow, I called room service for coffee and juice and called the front desk for the weather. Now I have an extra hour to prep, pressure is off some. Left a wakeup call for nine which I shan’t need.

// I DO have quite a nice dose of sunburn, but it feels kinda good and takes my mind off the most recent 7 inches of snow that S** says we got on LI.

//My feeling that we had stopped forward motion prompted me to take gps to deck 11 and although it took me until I had worked my way back to deck nine to get three satellites, I was correct, as we had not only stopped, but had been joined by three or four small boats alongside. It was not really raining or bitter cold, but foul wx gear will be in order and I shall wear long johns as well. I created a Falkland island fix S51 40 w 57 50 w/nearest apt SFAL 28 mi west.

Having adjusted to my time error, I was again thrown off with another little dose of pre senility when I missed part of a PA announcement which seemed to suggest that you needed tender tickets even if you had a shore excursion ticket. Doubting this, I nonetheless called front desk and they said “you need” so I went down and got one…very short line again as the announcement was just beginning in German and Spanish had not begun. Still, it moved awfully slowly as people seemed to make a big deal out of picking up a simple ticket.. 0830 local (yes I checked while down at reception) and planning on getting to stardust lounge a good deal earlier than the ten am meeting time on the ticket, as both of priors have left way early. As it turned out, I was right, no tender ticket was needed, but I got to see the Falkland stamp in my passport.

Before heading out, I prep’d a bag of laundry which will be ready tomorrow night.

//So I made it to the Stardust Lounge an hour early. This time they did NOT have the air conditioning turned on. Long johns and the foul weather pants, long sleeved turtleneck and the hooded sweatshirt. Had Irish sweater and the Chile jacket [from a prior visit there] with me as well. Fell into chat with the tour excursion guy awhile, and then returned to the cabin to get my goretex gloves. Went looking for the lighter leather ones that I thought I wore to the airport, but didn’t find them.

The tour was called just a short while before ten, and I was one of the first onto the tender, sitting in the back;. It was raining noticeably, and it got heavier as we went along. Still, I was able to get a pic of the Welcome to the Falklands sign, and another with me in it, and before leaving, got a t shirt and postcard as well…so it is another clean sweep.

Got onto [first on, window, starboard behind driver] bus 15, driven by Kevin K***, an attorney who moved there from London and now has a 35,000 acre farm which is about a tenth the size of some of the others on the island. Sheep primarily. I was most surprised by the mine field signs which are left over from 22 years ago and since they are made out of plastic, they can’t find them and the sheep don’t set them off. They claim there are some three legged cows there, but this may be a tourist joke thing..

After perhaps 15 minute ride, we stopped and transferred to land rovers again, and I sat in back with a younger couple from Leipzig and an old woman from Ottawa. The driver was Trudy and her husband is another farmer there. We had an eight mile ride across peat bog. One feature which fascinated the old Canadian was the streams of stones, which indeed seemed to form rivers, left over from the glacier age.

And then we were there, and I saw my first live, loose penguins. The first ones were King Penguins with chicks, and the rest were Gentoos. There were plenty of them, and I got a bunch of pix, got wet right thru to the feet (the boots either leaked or water ran down my pants into them.

We had an hour there, and I went to the mobile home which was a bathroom and coffee house with delicious home made candys and cookies and cakes, and had two coffees and about five delicious syrupy things they called flapjacks. I walked pretty close to some of the penguins who had strayed into the area NOT marked off by sticks which you weren’t supposed to pass. All in all, a most pleasant visit. Someone referred to this as the ‘end of the earth’ and it feels a good deal like just that. Reminded of the place in NZ where I got gas by the Tasman sea and felt the same way.

Trudy was a bit late in picking us up, but her son said she was reliable. She had quite a guest book with entries from Canada, US, UK Germany and many others, and showed us her family photo album.

I was the one who asked Kevin to slow the bus for a pic of the sign warning about the land mines, but about 20 people got off the bus to take the same photo…never seen that before either.

Supper was roast beef, roast lamb, roast beef and strawberry ice cream. I was one of the first through and afterwards went out on deck to find that the forward sections have indeed been closed off due to high winds. It was another wet tender ride back to the ship, but I was dressed for it. Back on board, I found a good hot air vent starboard aft on deck nine, and dried my goretex gloves there. I left the camera case at reception to see if the tailor could fix it.

Time now is 1900 ship time. In the lido lounge, aft on deck 8, the trio is playing. They sound professional as always. They did not go ashore. Got some more candy in the room from someone.

At almost this exact time, I got further south than I have ever been in my life, as we passed Punta Arenas.

My full page of notes for the day are in the cabin. This means another choppy entry unless I wait till I get back there to begin. The trio just took a break, looked at my today’s pictures with some interest and excused themselves to go eat in the Seven Seas Restaurant. I shall repair to my room and contemplate whether I want to go on line again or wait. Outside, night is falling but the winds are so strong that the forward decks have been closed.

Ok so it was only today that I realized that the tenders double as the lifeboats and that’s why they always look the same. DUH. Room is beginning to be a bit bouncy at 2200…may try to see how much of the deck is available again.

So – dell is still getting real hot. Guess I’ll stay off line tonight. Watched a movie called French Kiss with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. Followed this with a sci fi with Glynette Paltrow. Captain said winds on deck were 40 K but with forward speed prolly closer to 60.

//2300 Made one last trip aft, to look at the waves beside the boat and listen to the trio once more. Saw internet dude and he was aware that I got another half hour of internet for free for being a latitude person, and said I can do it again Sunday. This trip is over a third done – I can really scarcely believe it.

The ship is rockin and rollin now. I put my bathroom stuff into the sink there, and the poor puter will sleep on the floor tonight. I was reading the brochures about the Antarctic flight which is to be on Monday. If THEY decide that the wx over Antarctica is verstinkin, THEY will go somewhere else and you have no chance to get yer money back. Sounds to me like I better have seen Antarctica for that kinda money.

FWIW, remember these photos can be clicked--twice-- for more wonderful detail!


Fijufic said...

Thanks Fin.

Fin said...

Cannot say how pleased I am to note that one of my ten last visitors was from the Falkland Islands.

This piece has evoked many very fond memories of the place.