The Falkland Islands
I remember hearing about the conflict whilst living in Scotland when I was a very young girl. Four years old I suppose I would have been. It was during the Thatcher administration, and must have been quite a big deal as I do distinctly remember hearing and seeing news broadcasts regarding the invasion and subsequent war.
The thing that struck me, was the single minded, destructive and counterproductive mentality that can arise from what seems like a very overblown reaction over a seemingly insignificant group of islands.
Argentina seems to hate Britain and the feeling is returned (in some cases in multiples). In Ushuaia there are NO Union Jacks displayed and it would be the height of rudeness to do so. It goes for any Argentinian paraphernalia in the Falklands.
From an outsiders perspective, I view the whole thing in similar terms to other wars and conflicts. I see the whole thing as having a bully and an underdog, neither of whom are right or wrong, and all that tension resulting very much in utterly futile conflict where the only outcome is a strengthening of hatred and intolerance, a strengthening of misguided national pride – all at the expense of lives. Both civilian and military.
The talk on the ship was that things are getting tense again after the leaking of some official documents regarding the 72 day conflict back in 1982.
There are no winners only losers where wars are concerned. And the Falkland Islands was a depressing, confusing, and tragic example of this.
Argentina is the closest neighbor to these isolated islands. When I say Isolated I MEAN ISOLATED!
There is no ATM on the island. The currency is equal to the pound sterling but is printed for the Falkland Islands and traded here alone (to cater to a population of a few thousand people and very few tourists). The bank is closed on Sunday, and there is a sign at Michelle’s Fish ‘n’ Chip shop that reads:
If you don’t park your push bikes away from the entrance, and put them someplace where customers and staff won’t trip over them, I’ll be forced to call your mother. – Michelle.”
Not even joking.
She knows everyone’s mother, and brother and sister and cousin and friend and neighbor – because Stanley is the main settlement and a very small town of less than 3000 people and there’s not a lot of ease of movement on and off this little group of islands.
You don’t ask about, or discuss the war. And if you do, please know that it was all Argentina’s fault.
Enough of that political speak.
So. The weather was pretty awful. The locals apologized as you would anticipate good British folk to do. Not that they have any power over the weather, but the ones we spoke to were genuinely sorry about the fact that the weather was so awful for us visitors, as it isn’t usually like this at the end of December.
The Tender was long (about half an hour from boat to shore and the same trip back again) and they filled them up for efficiencies sake. I’m always fascinated, and often saddened by the behavior of different people in somewhat stressful and uncomfortable situations.
In order to fit enough people into the boats we had to sit four to a bench. Not unreasonable if you saw the size of the benches. Well, one woman flatly refused. I’ll not mention her nationality. Terribly rude, and honestly, what makes her think she is so much better than every other person on the tiny little boat that she doesn’t have to scooch over or share.
After loudly stating how rude I found her behavior to my embarrassed mother in law, I did actually realize that I could have easily taken Stephanie up on my lap making room for at least one more person on our bench, so I guess people in glass houses ought not throw stones and all that.
The houses, the food, the feel, even the smell of our experiences were eerily British. There is a small supermarket/chemist/clothing store (basically their version of a mega mall) and I would have sworn I was in an M&S or Waitrose somewhere anywhere in England, like Brighton or Yorkshire or anywhere just of the I-5. But I was not. I was on a small and sparsely populated set of stones in the Southern Atlantic off the coast of Argentina, where you daren’t speak their closes neighbors name!
The experience was surreal and short lived.
The people are warm and hearty, but the small dealings I had with them also exposed those I spoke with to be intolerant and zealously nationalistic, patriotic, and suspicious of anyone who is not a local.
We had very good battered fish, and mediocre chips, and boring frozen (not even mushy) peas.
It did make me desire more knowledge on the finer points of the conflict, and also to look forward to getting more intimate with the culture, language and history of the continent that has played host to myself and my family and friends for the past month.
There is so much I loved about the Western side of South America, and my obsession with the musical Evita as a child, and my personal experience with Argentinian natives has made me feel a right royal pillick for not learning more of the language and researching more about the amazing ports and countries I have been so blessed to visit.
I understand that the Argentine people are generally not fans of the British Empire. That was not one of the more successful stories of the glory days of that particular empire, and the passion, unity and fighting spirit of the Argentinian people are undeniable ingredients in the recipe that got the English out for the most part in the early to mid 20th century.
On a much more family oriented note:
Daniel flat-out refused to get off the boat so spent the day playing with the United Nations conference that is Kids Club on an international cruise.
Adam came ashore and quickly went home for a nap with Steve while Stephanie and Mother in Law and myself hiked along the waterfront to the museum.
Stephanie was so well behaved. She’s been complaining about wanting to go home every waking hour and today she was a sweetheart and heard me and understood when I explained that she will miss the boat and her friends and experiences here when she is home soon, and so she’d be better off to enjoy the moment and stop being such a whiny little brat. She really seemed to get it. Let’s see how long it lasts.
So, I’ll fill in the gaps between Ecuador and the Falklands soon.
Hope everyone had a very safe and special NYE in New Zealand and Australia, we are planning a fun one at sea tomorrow.