February 13, 2006
Antarctic Cruise Day 8
The Plan: Visit A rookery of penguins and albatrosses at West Point, Falkland Islands.
We got to the Falkland Islands at sunrise. Somehow, I managed to drag myself out of bed just as the sun was coming up and got a good look at the islands. After observing and taking some pictures for an hour or so, I went right back to bed.
I got a decent amount of sleep because we were delayed for 2.5 hours as the crew tried to get the ship anchored and the tenders prepared. There weren't any lectures planned for today, so I was able to take a rare breather after being constantly on the go during the last week.
My turn to go to West Point finally came early in the afternoon. I had to ride a tender for thirty minutes to reach the shore. When I got to the shore, the first thing I noticed was how little there was to see. As far as I could tell, there was only one house on the entire island, and the rest was full of open fields.
I watched a few birds go about their business and began the twenty minute walk to the other end of the island. When I got there, I saw the rookery located near the jagged cliffs overlooking the ocean. The main animals that I saw were rockhopper penguins and albatrosses, although the occasional striated caracara flew overhead, too. The caracara can be found all over the Falklands, but it is almost extinct in the rest of the world.
On the way back to the ship, we saw an ugly vulture and a large egg of some sort. There were also a few horses and a beautiful empty beach. Before boarding the ship, we were "invited" for tea and biscuits by the owner of the only house I had seen. He asked if there were any Argentines in our group. "Here we go," I thought, even though he only had good intentions.
Back in 1982, Argentina invaded the Falklands and declared the islands as their own. There were only 3000 people on the islands, so they called Britain, their mother country for help. Britain slowly gathered and dispatched its troops to the islands while the Argentine troops dug themselves into the ground to prepare for battle. Britain forced Argentina's surrender after 8 weeks, and there still is a lot of bitterness between the two countries. On every map in Argentina, the Falklands are still called "Las Islas Malvinas," and are claimed by Argentina. To this day, it still isn't possible for people to fly from Argentina to the Falklands. The sad thing is that the Falklands are just a small chain of islands in the middle of nowhere, and the local people have had to deal with large amounts of hostility over their homeland for decades.
Tonight I "double-dipped" on supper. First I had a large meal with Patrick, Libby, Craig, and John on the ship's deck at sunset. It was actually warm enough to eat outside for the first time of the trip. Later I ate again at the Seven Seas. I admit, it wasn't the first time I ate two suppers, either. Every day, each meal takes an hour or more. It's nice to sit back and relax instead of hurrying off somewhere immediately after eating.
The photo album for this entry is here.