The generosity of the Falkland Islanders was highlighted to us twice over the recent weeks. Firstly, as I was ramping up the study for my latest Masters assignment my frustrations at not having a desk or table to work at grew as every time I spread stuff out on the dining table I had to pack it away again into drawers and boxes which made everything very stop start and broke my flow. The best place for finding anything and everything available for sale is on Facebook and so I posted in the relevant group asking if anyone had a desk I could buy. I received a message from someone I had never met an whose name did not ring a bell stating that he had a desk in his garage and I could go for a look to see if it was suitable. I got back to him and arranged to go and see it, I wasn’t expecting anything much but just a space was going to be all I needed. He opened up his garage door to reveal a light birch coloured desk in perfect condition and of office size (over a metre long and 80cm deep). I was unsure that it would fit anywhere in the house easily and even less sure it would fit into the boot of the Rover without the seats down. So, I explained that I would need to do some measuring up and moving of furniture at home but that I was very much interested and how much would he like for it? The reply? Was ‘Absolutely nothing, I’m not using it and you can.’ He would not enter into a debate he was just happy to have it get some use. Sure enough with a bit of juggling we made space and Chris collected the desk a couple of days later. I am sitting at it typing this and it certainly made my Masters assignment far more manageable. I did return after a couple of days and leave a box of Mars Bar Krispy cakes on his door step with my thanks (which he in turn thanked me for) but it was a truly generous act, just giving away such an item.
The second incident came a short while afterwards. We had no plans for the Easter holidays which had surged upon us with too much haste to make any. When I realised that two weeks with Chris in work and me at home with the boys might be all a bit much, everywhere I contacted was already fully booked. This left me a little frustrated and on the moany side of normal. On the Tuesday before the holidays began on Good Friday, I attended the end of term Beaver treat at the swimming pool (for which extra adults were needed) and at the end of the session the Leader asked if we had anything planned. I moaned that no, I had left organisation too late and that there was no weekend availability at any accommodation I had found. Her instant reply was ‘Oh, our house at Hill Cove is free, ring me tomorrow and we can sort it out!’ Hill Cove is on West Falkland (we are on East Falkland) and this seemed an ideal opportunity to explore further afield. The next day I spoke to the ferry company to see if we could get onto the boat on the Friday morning, sadly they could only fit a car and 2 passengers and so we would not be able to leave until the 1800 ferry. This presented the situation of arriving onto a new island with no real idea of our bearings in the pitch black, not the most appealing.
Over the next couple of days our discussions, with the Beaver leader who was offering us accommodation and between us two, went back and forth. Initially she offered to take herself and her 2 children off the morning ferry so we would then all fit on but this did not work as someone had by then booked the other space so we were back to not enough room. So, eventually she suggested that she and her family vacate their main home in Port Howard (where the ferry lands) so we could take the evening ferry, arriving in the dark but without an onward journey and we could then stay in their home for two nights. We could not believe this generosity and that they did not want anything in return!
And so our first trip to the West happened on Easter weekend.
We left Stanley and drove across East Falkland past Goose Green to the ferry port at New Haven. The boys were very excited at the prospect of their first ferry trip ever! The ferry was quickly loaded and we set off into the sunset. Gentoo penguins leaped out of the water heading home for the night as we set off out to sea. It was a calm and easy ferry journey and in the gathering gloom Chris and I were fortunate enough to glimpse a whale breaching and blowing – we believe it was likely a Sei whale but it was such a brief sighting it was impossible to be sure! We arrived into Port Howard in the pitch, pitch black and the instant we drove off the ferry we took the wrong turning to the directions we had been given. Thankfully we realised pretty quickly and pulled to the side of the road at which point one of the other cars leaving the ferry stopped and put us back on the right track and we were very quickly at the house we were using for the weekend. It definitely made us all the more glad that we were not traversing the island in the dark.
The next morning we got up and were blown away by the views and the location we were in. Port Howard is a stunning small settlement right on the harbour. We spent the Saturday driving to Hill Cove and taking in the much hillier environs of West Falkland. The whole island has a population of about 350 and there is a definite feel of isolation with no phone signal, large empty spaces and long empty stretches of road. Typically we forgot to pick up the camera and so my few pictures are from my phone camera, we will, therefore, have to return for better shots at some point! The first thing we stopped at was an Argentinian plane wreck from 1982:
Further on we had a full on road block of a cow off! These cows were not in the slightest bothered that a large Discovery was driving towards them, in fact as we approached they also approached gaining in bravery:
We got to Hill Cove and indulged in eating our lunch at the area known as The Devil’s Kitchen high up with a view out over the sea and in sight of many of the other smaller islands. It was not the clearest day ever and yet the view was incredible, there was no point attempting to photograph it on a phone camera and so we just sat back and soaked it all in. Shortly after we went for a brief walk along some of the coastline and the boys enjoyed a bit of a rampage and gad about. We found this complete crab, completely dead but seemingly complete, which the boys insist that I put up on here so who am I to argue:
We returned to Port Howard and spent the rest of Saturday (and again on Sunday morning) having a wander about the settlement, taking in the ‘airport’, the creek – where the boys loved splodging and Chris and I were gobsmacked by the sheer number of night herons roosting in the trees and the museum (more of that in a moment). Here’s the photos (most of these from the ‘proper’ camera:
The museum at Port Howard was like all the boys dreams come true. A whole lot of paraphernalia left behind in 1982 by the Argentinians after Port Howard was taken back and some British things too. Honestly, Chris and I did not get much of a look as attempting to encourage the boys to leave the exhibits alone took most of our time and energy but here are some snaps that we did at least manage to take. We know full well we will return here and by then we may have some fuller information to impart about the history of the settlement in regards to the war, the settlement itself celebrated it’s 150th birthday in October last year. Here’s the shots:
Our two night stay was nowhere near long enough, we loved Port Howard itself and the small portion of the West that we saw and we definitely need to get back for a much more in depth look around and explore. But for now our time there was over and we headed for the lunchtime ferry. Our ferry trip back was topped off by an accompanying pod of about 12 dolphins chasing the ferry out of the harbour, it was a gloomy soggy day so these were the best of the shots that we managed to get but it was a thrilling experience that the boys and us loved!
These are just two examples of the generosity of the local population here but it is really immeasurable. There are so many examples between themselves, to those like us that are on contracts here and to those who come as tourists to visit. It is an incredible strength that is a central part of what makes this community a rather special one to be a part of.