We were escorted into Stanley harbor by spouting whales. The sun was out, the sky was blue and there were colors to see besides black and white. It almost hurt our eyes. The temperature was a balmy 50º, but the brisk wind generated by sailing, had us piling the layers back on. All summer our ship has been doing round trip sails out of Ushuaia, and our landing in Stanley was not nearly as smooth, probably due to lack of practice. It took longer than planned to clear the ship. People were chomping at the bit to get to town and do some shopping. It's been a long time.
The Falklands are a unique place. Once upon a time, a Pope got out a pen and drew a line dividing South America into two halves. The Falklands were in the Spanish half. Eventually Argentina won its freedom from Spain, but that had nothing to do with the Falklands, which lay less than 370 miles from its shore. The Spanish sold the islands to Great Britain, which found them worth owning due to the lucrative wool market. The years went by and Britain began to unload some of its unprofitable colonies. It was thinking seriously about cutting the Falklands loose. At this time the Argentine military junta came under more and more local criticism and Galitieri, their president looked for something to distract the people from all the malfeasance. He figured Britain didn't give a hoot about those little islands so far away and launched an invasion. He was wrong. Margaret Thatcher was having her own problems with union mine workers and seized the moment to distract her own people by sending the military to defend sacred soil. Sadly many of the 10,000 Argentine troops sent here were poorly trained, doing their year of obligatory service. They were not told where they were going or what it was all about. The British blew up a military transport ship that may or may not have been in neutral water, leading to great loss of life. The war lasted about three months. Casualties: 255 British, 655 Argentine and three locals. Argentina was so embarrassed by their loss, they left the bodies here. Some still lay unidentified 37 years after the Falklands War ended.
The islands only have 3,500 people. After the war they had a referendum and 98.8% voted to stay with Britain. So now the British are stuck with the Falklands forever.
After a bit of retail therapy, we took a 4-wheel drive to sort of a farm which has a King penguin rookery as well as the Gentoos, which we have seen in many spots. Our driver talked about the route he took, remarking that many of the landmines that had been laid here during the war thirty years ago, were only recently removed. After taking way too many penguin photos, we stopped in the farm's cafe where we ate traditional British sweets like scones and clotted cream, served with tea, of course. Whenever we come here, we are tickled about how this isolate spot feels more British than Great Britain. When you have been threatened by losing your identify, you are motivated to proclaim loudly and proudly about who you are, I guess.