For over thirty-five years, I’ve had a dream, a desire, to go to a destination so far away that most people – well-read, educated folks – couldn’t find on the map. In 1982 – that’s when I, and most of the world, learned about the Falkland Islands. The few who knew where the islands were located probably lived there.
1982 – that’s when Argentina invaded the islands and held the people prisoners. There was no local defense force at the time. Three weeks later, the British military arrived and the real fighting started.
After seventy-four days, the Argentinians surrendered and were shipped back to their country. That’s about all you’re going to hear here about the actual conflict.
The Falklands are a group of islands in the South Atlantic, southeast of Argentina, one of fourteen British Overseas Territories, which are self-governing but depend on Great Britain for their defense. In 2013, the Falklands voted – loud and clear – to stay part of Great Britain.
Enough history. I went out of curiosity and because I wanted to meet people and, oh yes, see the amazing wildlife. What did I actually do and see?
I flew into Port Stanley, the capital of the Falklands, and stayed at Lafone Lodge for a week with a trip to another island for a couple of nights in the middle.
I’ll talk about the practicalities of my visit in a future post.
The first thing that hit me as I got my bearings in Port Stanley was the light. The pure unfiltered light with expressive clouds in a clean, blue sky. The wind was strong and cold. It’s not that far from the South Pole. No trees here but a lot of white grass and stone runs, created by glaciers.
The first day, I took a history tour with Tony Smith, a terrific tour guide with a passion (dare I say, obsession) for the Falkland Conflict.
We toured the major locations, including Goose Green, site of a large battle. The war debris have long been removed and there were memorials at various points. We visited them all.
We stopped for a smoko (tea and cakes) at the Darwin Lodge, one of a few places in east Falklands to stay outside of Port Stanley. I scrambled down to Darwin Bay where Charles Darwin was supposed to have landed in 1833. He spent a night here.
Then to Bodie Creek Bridge, a wooden suspension bridge built in 1926 and long abandoned, except as a visitor attraction. There are few roads on the island, and most are unpaved. So people drive cross country through fields, as the sheep scatter out of the way.
Our last visit was the Argentine cemetery, where most of the markers say
Soldado Argentino solo conocido por dios
(Argentine Soldier known only to God) – see the photo at the top.
Next post – Port Stanley.