Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Falklands to Montevideo

After the days we spent in Antarctica, the rest of the cruise was fairly anti-climatic. One highlight, though, was our brief visit to the town of Stanley in the Falkland Islands.

I first heard of the Falklands when Argentina invaded back in the early 80s. I remember seeing the war footage on TV, with the British troops fighting back, and it seemed like a very strange place for two countries to fight over. Every time we've been to Argentina, I've seen graffiti and murals proclaiming that the Malvinas (the Falklands) belong to Argentina, and I suppose I had the impression that there was still controversy about it. I thought that perhaps, in the Falklands, the people were divided about their nationality, that it was still a subject of great debate.

And then we went to Stanley.

Yeah, no. The people who live in Stanley, at least, are 100% clear on the fact that they are British. The town is incredibly British. It feels like a small town on the coast of England, rather than on an island off the end of South America.

Even the telephone boxes are British looking!

Despite the island being kind of windswept and barren-looking, the town is colorful and lively.

We had lunch in this pub, horribly greasy fish and chips and local ale. Interestingly enough, the pub advertised that it accepted American dollars, British pounds, Euros, Brazilian reales, and even Chilean pesos -- but not Argentinian pesos. 

We originally had a shore excursion to a penguin rookery booked, but it was canceled the night before. We spent the morning in town instead, and Carter picked out this toy penguin in a gift shop. He dubbed her Bluey, and she quickly became his very favorite toy. 

I mean, look at this place! How British is this?

I didn't see a single sign in Spanish in town. Not a one.

So yes, the people who currently live in this part of the Falkland Islands are absolutely certain that they are not part of Argentina. Apologies to any Argentinians who may be reading this, but it's probably not something you don't already know. It's clear that the issue is still complicated.

Anyway, it's a lovely little town.

The ship was tendered here, and so we got to take the little boats to the shore and back. Carter thought that was fun.

We had another sea day before our next stop at Puerto Madryn, Argentina. This was the first time I've been to the Patagonia region. This area was originally settled by Welsh immigrants, and apparently there are still people who speak Welsh and who retain the culture. 

Since we missed our chance to see penguins in the Falklands, we decided to take an excursion to a rookery at this stop. It was rainy and windy and cool, and the bus ride down to the park where the penguin rookery is located took three hours. Three hours cooped up on a bus, each direction, is quite a lot to ask of a 5-year-old, but Carter did fine. He played with the iPad the entire way and was very patient.

When we arrived at the park, the rain had picked up and the park rangers at the entrance said that the lightning was so dangerous that we should all remove all metal (earrings, watches, etc.) and not take our camera or phones or anything off the bus. Which makes zero sense, of course, and you can only imagine the near-riot that occurred on the bus when the tour guide relayed this information to us. Three hours all the way to see penguins, and no cameras? At any rate, there was some negotiation with another set of rangers, and in the end they decided we could take our cameras. 

Of course, it was raining and muddy and so it probably wasn't the best day to have a camera out. But we saw penguins!

We spent about 45 minutes looking at penguins, and then the bus ride back was another three hours. We got back on the ship just a half hour before it sailed away, so that was our whole day!

We had one more sea day before our final stop in Montevideo, Uruguay.  Here we are having dinner in our cabin.

We all got our hair cut in the ship's salon on the last sea day.

We didn't do a shore excursion in Montevideo; we just walked around the part of the city near the port. That isn't the charming part of Montevideo, to be sure.

Carter played a bit on this playground.

We ended up having lunch at a McDonald's. A decade ago, we would have scoffed at the idea of eating at McDonald's in another country. But now we have a small child, and our perspective is a little different, heh.

I took a picture of this sign in a shop window because it looks to be a photo of a shop in Fayetteville, NC. In Uruguay!

Carter is talking on the phone to Nana here.

And then it was time for our last sailaway of the cruise. 

The next morning, we got off the ship first thing and got on a flight to Miami. As I write this, we're in Tokyo, Japan. In my next post, I'll talk about what we did in between. :-)

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