What a barren windswept piece of rock. What did Charles Darwin say? Such a desolate landscape he’d never laid eyes on, or something more elegant to that effect. A long low largely flat expanse – even the rocks don’t protrude high above the ground, the plants are of the hardy, low and coarse variety. Everything has proven its mettle just by making a home here. My ideas of feeling a romantic pull towards the place, that might draw me to come back for a longer visit slowly dissipated as the day and the rain progressed. By the time we boarded the tender boat to get back to the ship 1.5 hrs later than scheduled, I had a feeling previously reserved for dry land – home at last. Hot showers ahoy!
It was on the Falklands that Darwin seems to have realised that species were not fixed entities. My question to ponder over is why – why choose to live at the end of the earth, miles from anywhere, with such lousy weather? There’s only one town and around 5000 people on the islands. They’re not on speaking terms with Argentina, so people fly to Chile or Uruguay to get medical treatment if it’s serious. They’re 500 kilometres away from their closest neighbours in Patagonia
It was the driving rain, pelting me in the face with hard ice pellets, while I was squinting over my fogged up glasses to make out the colony of Gentoo penguins in front of my feet that did it. Dripping wet with no help from the goretex (including the waterproof pants that I had packed in my knapsack) even the Rangers were leaving me behind, as I tried to remain steadfast and take in as much of the penguin colony as I could. The penguins were obliging, coming directly towards all of the visitors, close enough to make some people back away. I wondered if it was this innocent curiousity that caused so many to land in the islanders pots in the early 19th century (about 2 million).
I did see the nine King Penguins with their sunburst faces, incubating their eggs (and one with a fat brown chick!) in the middle of the crowd of Gentoos. And after I beat it over to the Sea Cabbage Cafe for a plateful of homemade desserts. My camera was too fogged at this point to take any more photos, but the array of treats was also a sight to be seen.
One Month Later – The Falklands Held a Referendum on their Political Status – only Islanders allowed to vote
Mar 12, 2013 – Only three vote against staying British in unsurprising landslide, which Argentina dismisses as irrelevant.