or….Flat Stanley does Stanley:)
On our family gap year travels, one of the most exciting places we’ve been to is the Falklands.
It’s partly because it’s just so British! More British than being at home. Of course everyone speaks English, which was a real treat after speaking Spanish or Portuguese for our whole trip so far, it was exciting too because we got to stay in a lovely traditional B&B called Kay’s and she was amazing! It was really interesting to find out what a small island in the middle of the south Atlantic was like where there were only a few people but where they’d had a war in 1982 when Argentina invaded and tried to take the islands over. And it was also exciting because its close to Antarctica and we got to see king penguins and rockhopper penguins and that was really unbelievable!
My parents had thought about coming here for Christmas which I think would have been great because it was almost like going home for a week and my Dad said this is one of those places on his bucket list that he really wanted to go! For Ben, Lara and me, we were counting down the days from when we booked the flight about a month earlier!
We caught the flight from Punta Arenas in Southern Chile. It only goes once a week. At the airport, we made friends with some Falklands children and then suddenly the flight was cancelled! I couldn’t believe it. I was so upset! Then they sent us all to a hotel and said the flight might go the next day! So we played with our new friends there in the indoor pool and eventually went back and got the flight at 2 o’clock in the morning!
Seeing the penguins was just wonderful. We went to two big colonies driving quite far across bumpy farmlands to the beaches where they live. We could stay and watch them as long as we wanted with only us and the penguins watching each other!
For Flat Stanley who has been travelling with us all the way, it was exciting too because he got to visit a town called Stanley! The capital of the Falklands!
Stanley isn’t exactly like a capital city, there are less people there than in the small town where we live back home in Sussex! There are red phone boxes and telephone boxes and union jacks and Falkland island flags everywhere! Some of the houses look a lot like English Victorian terrace houses at home, some are a little different. We had seen lots of posters and campaigns in Argentina saying that the ”Malvinas” are theirs (the Argentinian name for the islands) – now we were in the islands and they had just had a referendum where everyone (apart from 3) voted to stay British so there were even more flags out than usual we think! After seeing all the fuss in Argentina, I suggested that maybe we should give one of the islands to them and keep one, because that would be fair, but after I visited the Falklands, I could see that it might not work so easy!
The population of the Falklands is about 3000, living across the whole of the Falklands, which covers 4700 square miles. About 2000 live in Stanley which is really the only town. Everywhere else is called ‘Camp’ and is made up of farm settlements. I couldn’t believe it when Mum told me that the small town near Brighton where we live is just 3 square miles and has a population of over 13000!
Kay’s B&B was lovely and cosy and Kay was wonderful! She stayed up to meet us when we arrived at 4am and gave us a cup of tea and home-made ginger biscuits and gingerbread men! She told us her own stories of growing up in West Falkland, moving to Stanley, marriage and bringing up her family and their experiences in the 1982 war.
She cooked us roast dinners which we had been missing for months! And when we left she gave us each a present! Outside she had a brilliant gnome garden.
We went around the island and saw where there were battles in 1982. We saw the British and Argentine cemeteries and memorials, went to the museum, saw shipwrecks, passed some beaches and other places you can’t go because there are still landmines, hiked up Mount Tumbledown where we saw remains of army camps, and listened to the people we met telling us their stories about what it was like having Argentinian soldiers show up one day, march in and take over your town, barge into your houses with guns and what it was like when the war was going on and they could hear explosions and battles in the hills right near where they lived.
It was sad to see the graves and all the names and stories of people in the war. It was sad to see the Argentine cemetery too, where there were so many unknown soldiers, It said on their graves ‘solo conocido por Dios’ which means ‘known only by God’
One day, we went to the local swimming pool and had it almost to ourselves too. Everyone was really really friendly.
I found an Easter egg in the church garden in Stanley, which was really lucky! We so so wished we were staying for Easter but our week was up and this time, the flight wasn’t cancelled or delayed this time and we headed back to Chile !