First light on our last day in the Falkland Islands. We are at sea heading for a dock in Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands. Stanley is well-protected from the sea, but not so much from the wind. Not too much wind today, but the sky is overcast. That is fine, rain never lasts long in the Falklands.
Stanley has grown quite a bit since I was first here, more than 25 years ago. Much of the growth has come from people leaving the camp (rural countryside), plus a bit of immigration from the United Kingdom, Saint Helena, and Chile. While there has been growth, the population of the town is still under 4,000. It’s easy to spot the older parts of Stanley. Those areas have the taller trees, none of them native to the Falkland Islands. There are no native trees in the Falklands and things seem to grow rather slowly here. Another indication of time passing is that there is no longer the pleasant scent of burning peat in the air, as there are other ways to heat nowadays.
After breakfast, we spend morning hiking and exploring the town. It is a special day in Stanley, Remembrance Day. In the United Kingdom and much of the former British Commonwealth, the Sunday closest to November 11 is when the sacrifices of World Wars I and II are remembered. Here in the Falkland Islands, the sacrifices of those lost in the Falklands War of 1982 are also remembered. There are ceremonies and a parade attended by many war veterans.
After lunch, we really kick into high gear: a visit to a sheep farm, a walk along the coast, and a hike around some of the mountains (tall hills, really) near Stanley. No one can do everything, choose one. Before dinner time, we leave Stanley to begin the crossing to South Georgia Island. We have just gotten started!
IMAGE: Lady’s slipper (not an orchid) an endemic plant of the Falkland Islands. (Photo by Dennis Cornejo)