Monday was my day to explore Port Stanley. If I only wanted to see the monuments, that might have taken a couple of hours – max. But I wanted to see how residents lived. There would be time for penguins. Upland geese hugged the waterfront; see the photo above.
First, the post office where I sent lots of postcards.
I had a deadline because if I didn’t get my cards in the outgoing box by 11 am, they would sit until Thursday. Mail only goes out of the country twice a week. The community is so small that every household has a post box at the post office; there’s no home delivery of mail. As I wrote my postcards at a table in the post office, I noticed how the PO boxes provided an excuse to meet and at least say “hi”..
Today was a cruise day; most visitors come on a cruise and stay from two hours to a full day on their way down to Antarctica. Cruisers don’t venture far but they do see the symbol of Port Stanley, the whalebone arch.
I walked the main street and found Thatcher Drive. PM Margaret Thatcher is a hero here, with her own street – small – and a statue. The inscription says:
“They are few in numbers but they have the right to live in peace, to choose their own way of life and to determine their own allegiance.” Margaret Thatcher April 3rd 1982.
The Falkland Conflict with Argentina was not the first time that the islands were invaded. There was a battle here December 8, 1914 during World War I (yes, WW one – not a typo).
Several ships have met their demise here including several American ships. Before the Panama canal was open in 1914, ships had to go around Cape Horn, the southern most tip of Chile, and stopped here to be repaired.
Even today, for a modern economy, life isn’t easy here. Their food stuff mostly comes from Great Britain. They get their fruit and vegetables from Chile once a week – just like independent visitors. If the cargo section is full of suitcases, the bananas don’t make it.
Coleen, the librarian, says “Sometimes I look at the people coming off the plane and wonder how many apples and heads of lettuce this would mean.”
Today, Port Stanley attracts immigrants from over 60 countries. Most are from South America; I met several from Uruguay. Some are from other Commonwealth countries like Australia and New Zealand looking to start a business. But there are people from places I had only heard of from history books like St. Helena (you know, where Napoleon was exiled).
Victor, from Botswana, supervises mine removal. The 1982 conflict left a lot of mines which must be removed by EU rules, even though here only penguins tread this land. It seems that demining is a specialty that takes Botswana firms all over the world. Several families from Botswana have settled here.
Next post – the wildlife – I promise.