Matt & Emmy in Antarctica & Easter Island travel blog

San Carlos Water

Memorial to Lt. Col. Jones at Darwin Hill

Emmy in Stanley - behind her is a sculpture made of whale...

Victoria Row in Stanley

We arrived this morning in Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. Stanley is the only real town on the Falklands Islands, with a population of about 2,000. (There are an additional 500 people living scattered around the rest of the Falkland Islands in isolated farms or small settlements, plus about 2,000 British military personnel at the base near the Mt. Pleasant airport, about 30 miles from Stanley).

Stanley is the only significant port we will call at on the entire trip. The Endeavour was to spend the entire day in Stanley. There were various group tours offered, but Emmy and I had prearranged a private tour with Patrick Watts, a Falkland Islander, in his 4 Wheel Drive vehicle.

Patrick is a lifelong resident of the Falklands and fairly prominent in the islands because he ran the Falklands Island Broadcasting Service (the one and only radio station) from the mid-70s until just a few years ago. He was the manager, reporter, newscaster and news editor, all rolled into one. He became fairly well known internationally as well, as a result of the March 1982 Argentine invasion of the Falklands. Patrick was on the air during the hours immediately before the invasion, broadcasting updates from the governor as to the impending invasion to the Islanders, and when the Argentines took over the radio station, he was forced at gunpoint to broadcast their messages. He broadcast throughout the war and when it was over in June 1982, he was awarded the MBE by the Queen for his service. During our day with him, it became apparent that he knew practically every resident of the islands as well as their life story and the stories of all of their relatives.

Patrick picked us up at the dock. He gave us a brief driving tour of Stanley, which is a quaint small town perched above the port on a gentle hillside. The buildings are all brightly colored; it looks like any other small town in Britain or Ireland, despite being 8,000 miles away from the British Isles.

We then drove off into the "camp" or countryside (anything outside of Stanley). There is essentially one main road on East Falkland Island, paved in parts and gravel in most parts. We headed west, past the international airport which was built by the military after the 1982 conflict to accommodate the troops and to provide direct air service to England, which has never existed before. We saw a British Tornado fighter aircraft practicing maneuvers overhead. Before the 1982 conflict, about 30 Royal Marines were based here with no aircraft. Since the British defeated the Argentines, nearly 2000 service members, along with a squadron of aircraft and often naval vessels, are stationed here to deter a future attack.

With Patrick, we drove across the island and visited several battle sites related to the 1982 conflict, including San Carlos (where the British re-invaded the islands and where they lost several ships) and the twin settlements of Darwin & Goose Green, where the first significant land battle of the war was fought by the 2nd Parachute Regiment, which attacked an Argentine force twice their size and won a significant victory, though at the cost of many of their troops including their commanding officer, Lt. Col. "H" Jones, who won Britain's highest military honor, the Victoria Cross. We had the bonus of arriving during sheep shearing time at Goose Green and got to watch the sheep shearers in action.

Patrick brought us back to Stanley at the end of the day, where we walked around a bit before depositing ourselves in the Victory Bar, one of Stanley's pubs. We had previously contacted via email a member of the local chapter of the Hash House Harriers (a running club Emmy belongs to), so we were met by 3 hashers including Gopher, the founder of the Falkland Islands Stanley Hash (FISH). The newly-founded FISH were doing a run that evening (Run #5 for them). They count among their members the Governor of the Island (Gopher is his private secretary) and about 25 others, which is 1% of the total population of the Islands! The Philly Hash would have to launch a significant membership drive to get their membership up to 1% of Philly's population!

After a couple of drinks and exchanges of stories with the local Hashers, we returned to the Endeavour and set sail for South Georgia. The next two days will be spent at sea as we head south and east from the Falklands. We're hoping that the internet connection stays good, but we've been warned that it might become flakier - we'll do the best we can to keep updating the site.

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