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Our "Summer" Travels To South America, Part 14

Visiting the Falkland Islands

By Armando F. Sanchez, Contributing Writer
Published on LatinoLA: March 18, 2013

Our "Summer" Travels To South America, Part 14

It's a very small town with 2,500 residents. These islands belong to England. They have their own currency and the British Sterling. Given the number of passengers on the ship we must double the town population for a day. Part of the reason the ship stops here is that it is a ship registered to the British Commonwealth and it would benefit the local economy.

It's mainly flat and practically no brush vegetation. It's typically very cold and windy here. Apparently the weather can change drastically in minutes. Just a week ago it was snowing here. Today the sun was out and winds were mild.

The issue here is the 1982 Falkland War. It's still fresh in the minds of everyone. Different locals share their own experiences and several of the persons we met were ex-military and decided to stay on the island. All their housing is prefabricated in Norway and shipped here. They have a major airport and the military lands here twice a week. Citizens can take the military transport or fly to Chile and then fly anywhere else.

One would think that the war is just a memory but unfortunately it's a daily issue. Many parts of the island still have live land mines laying around. They used plastic explosives so some of it was in beach areas and some occasionally float unto land. In some areas the beach sands have shifted and the mines are either buried deeper or shifted to other areas of the land. A couple of minutes out of town and you begin to see the signs posted that you are in a mined area and caution you not to enter. I did find a government map highlighting possible and new mine areas throughout the islands. Unfortunately much of the island was marked in red ink.

The Argentinians did manage, during the war, to hit and sink a British transport ship in the northern area of the Islands. It was hit by a French missile owned by the Argentinians. There is a small memorial near there. We did not go there since it is in a remote area. With the possibility of extreme weather shifts and explosives throughout, it was a no-brainer not to go there.

In a few months there will be major construction activity since they will begin drilling for oil nearby. It seems the US bought the lease drill for petroleum here.

Our driver recommend a pub he frequents. One the outside it looked like a dilapidated house but inside was a swinging British pub where the locals hang out. They are a lively and friendly bunch. We cheered with them as the soccer game on the "tele" proceeded. I had no idea who was playing. It reminded me of the pub we visited last year in Cork, Ireland. Great friendly and warm atmosphere.

We are getting ready to board and go to Ushuaia, Argentina. We were informed many times that we should not wear any clothing that highlighted the Falklands on it. As we go back to Argentina tomorrow, we go back to using their term for referring to these islands as "Las Malvinas".

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