Heading to the Falklands

We are about to sail - not the royal we, you understand, but the ship I am currently on - G Expedition. Big red thing. Great stuff - heading to the Falklands. I love the islands, all seven hundred of them! Yes, 700 - you read it right. Amazing eh? And, no, I had no idea till I first went there some 20 years ago now. An age away. 

In the intervening years, a lot has changed in the islands. Ive been lucky to visist often enough to observe the islands at close quarters - not just Port Stanley which in itself is a remarkable little town. Just a couple of thousand people are scattered across the archipelago, meaning that many of the islands are barely populated. By a long stertch, Saunders Island is my favourite. A huge, arching island many miles long it narrows at one point to form a narrow isthmus, 'the neck' where the two beaches are separated by a large mass of penguins in variety. Kings, Macaroni, Jackass and Rockhopper, maybe the odd Gentoo. Plus black backed Albatrosses. Hmm, lovely spot. We are heading there ont he 13th I think - then will sail round to Stanley and have a day at the wonderful museum there. 

Right now I am sat in Ushuaia, which itself claims to be the capital of the Malvinas. Odd that. There is even a cut out of the Falklands down at the port - a large public sculpture. It makes me sad, not angry. Anyone taking the time to look at the Falklands would immediately realise that they want to belong to GB and are very definite about that. Its just a shame that most Argentineans will never get the opportuity. One of my friends, Biz, who hails from Argentina was able to join us there last year when our ship visited. He came back to the ship that evening full of love for the islands and islanders. They are a very welcoming people and I hope to be able to catch up with some of my friends both on Saunders and in Stanley later in the week. 

From Stanley, we sail 900 or so miles further east to South Georgia, one of my favourite places. 19 years since I first went there. Another lifetime ago, it seems. I sailed there with Jerome Poncet and his amazing son, Dion, on a rather small yacht, Goden Fleece. Very bumpy. Very sick. Very never again, I said at the time. The sailing, I mean, not South G as I did wonder if I would ever go again. Of course, I have, many times and consider myself all the luckier for it. It is an amazing island covered, literally, in high alpine peaks, massive glaciers and almost every inch of every shore is covered with extrordinary wildlife. Ill take lots of pics and, of course, post them in my blog next time I am in town. Meanwhile, below is a photo by Roland Gockle, a German camera man from a doc team I met a couple of years ago while working on a conservation project down there. 

Today I am having a deja-vu all over again day as my old friend Tudor is in town - he's a big cheese in IAATO nowadays - always destined for greatness that man. I usually run into him somewhere down here, be it in Antarctica where we first me at Rothera in 1996 or here in Ushuaia. We're off the lunch later in my favourite cafe, Ramos Generales - the only spot in town to get good food in my opinion. Rabbit stew last week. I ate it two days in a row it was that good. Ill be in touch soon - Gerardx

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