Monday, December 31, 2007

Fish and Chips in the South Atlantic?

Happy almost New Year! Today I spent the day in a little slice of England in the South Atlantic. We were in the Falkland Islands, playing with the penguins and eating some good ole fish and chips. I went on a half day trip today so I could have some time to walk around the area. The Falklands are about 4700 square miles with only a population of 3500. Imagine the town of Haworth with a whole hell of a lot more land! The British Navy, Royal Air Force, etc. have a large base here and do a lot of training exercises. The school is a nice size and has a pool and other amenities that NV didn't have. The eduction is compulsory, but since folks are so spread out, they have a traveling school system where the teacher will rotate b/w 3 communities over a 6-week period and then start the rotation again. If the kids do well, they will be sent to the UK for college and university for FREE. Our guide said that over 80% of those that leave for college return to the Falklands.

Everyone here was so friendly. Our guide came down in the 80s as part of the Royal Air Force, fought in the Falklands War in 1982, and then returned to make it his home. The guy who owned the farm I went to with all the penguins (more in a bit), came down here on "holiday" 31 years ago and never left. He bought his farm (37,000 acres) and now runs tours on it b/c it has breeding penguins. His farm and the area where the penguins were (Bluff Cove) have Gentoo, king and Magellanic penguins. The King and Gentoo don't burrow, but instead huddle in areas where they protect their eggs. We weren't able to get as close as in Magdalena, but it was still neat. To get to the cove, we drove for about 30 minutes on the road (part paved/part gravel). We then loaded ourselves into Landrovers and literally drove over the property to get to the cove. The only "road" was a track that the drivers had made. This was some hard-core 4-wheeling.

The town of Stanley is quaint. I took a ton of pictures of old whale jaws and skeletons, sunken ships and beautiful flowers. Really, it was a little slice of England. We stopped off in a pub and had ourselves some extremely fresh fish and chips for lunch and then I walked around and bought a couple souvenirs.

I can't believe I've been here for over a week. The folks on the trip are very nice. There are some folks in their mid to late 30s, a good deal in their mid to late 40s, and then a bunch in their 50s, including someone who is 63. The "older" crowd is very nice and everyone goes out after dinner or during the day. A number of folks have coupled up, some within the first day. There's no one I'm particularly interested in, but then again, that was not my goal for this trip. Instead, I've met a lot of great folks, including some from Italy, Germany, New York, Toronto, California, Denver, etc. Now I have more places and people to visit! Nice thing is that a number of the folks I've become friends with (and the younger crowd if I can say that) will be going to Iguazu at the end of the trip.

I'm off to get ready to ring in the New Year in the Atlantic . . .

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