Sunday March 3, 2013

We’ve been doing a bit of rock’n’roll today (and yesterday) as we sail up the coast of Argentina … skirting a grumpy storm, riding some sizable swells, and weaving around the decks and lounges like drunken sailors. But we’re still buzzing, and can’t stop talking about the FANTASTIC Friday we had in the Falkland Islands. The weather was as good as it gets at this South Atlantic outpost; the locals (mainly British) were thrilled to see us (after a summer of bad weather that kept most cruise ships away); and we Kiwis couldn’t believe our luck.

When Darwin arrived here on the Beagle in 1833 he declared “the whole landscape had an air of extreme desolation”. And as we headed ashore in Port Stanley aboard one of the ship’s lifeboats, we could see what Darwin meant.

Highlight #1 was an intro look-around-town in an old London double-decker bus – during which we learned some essential Island history (including the nasty 1982 war between Britain and the Falklands).

For lunch-on-our-own, Wayne and I chose the popular Victory Bar – where the novel menu includes items such as “Fish’n’Chips: locally-caught fish with freshly frozen imported chips” … and “Liver & Bacon: tenderly cooked liver from a pig, with bacon from another part of a pig, and some onions grown in soil and pig s–t, serviced with your choice of potato” … and “Chili Con Carne: mild, suitable for wimps and girlies”.

Highlight #2 saw us climbing into 4WD off-roaders and lurching out across peaty, rock-strewn farmland to a remote penguin colony where several thousand pairs of Gentoo penguins (with orange beaks and feet) nest beside a sandy, windswept beach. The adults were standing around or lying face-down, busy moulting, feathers blowing in all directions … while their fully-grown chicks were playing down on the beach and learning to surf.

We also spotted half a dozen King penguins (bigger, more colourful, with bright orange collars) … plus several still-fluffy chicks.

Words can’t describe how we felt as these plump, healthy, curious creatures strutted their stuff … fed their young … waddled over to get up-close-and-personal … and stood looking up at us from around our feet.

Unforgettable? For sure! And one of many experiences we’re gonna HAVE to rave about once we’re home.

Before leaving our penguin-friends and returning to Port Stanley (and the warm Veendam), we all enjoyed complimentary tea/coffee/hot-chocolate with home-made cakes and bikkies at the Sea Cabbage Cafe.

TOMORROW: We’ll be waking up in Montevideo (capital of Uruguay) where we’re to visit a recently-declared UNESCO World Heritage Site: Colonia del Sacramento. So don’t go away …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN & WAYNE

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