Interesting day yesterday, Saturday, and brilliant day today, Sunday!
We arrived at Mount Pleasant after quite a long flight from Santiago – 3 hours to Punta Arenas and then another couple to the islands. Staying at the Malvinas House hotel, the best on in town and clean and modern – not sure why, but much better than I expected!
We had a bit of a wander around Stanley this afternoon. It is only small and is just like a British coastal town – it is actually twinned with Whitby – except that all the roofs are brightly painted in red, green, blue or even yellow. There are 19th century buildings, some typical seaside cottages and even some Victorian villas, a cathedral and all the usual public buildings such as post office and police station. Of course, the principal war memorial is for the 1982 conflict and the other big reminder is the feeling of a garrison town with a massive military complex at the main airport, which is 30 miles outside town. So, we ended up at the Globe Inn, a typical squaddie pub with flags and war memorabilia. Not much happening at 6 pm but that would change later!
A pleasant dinner with Kyle and Samantha from the Tourist Office and then we just had to go out for last orders – this time at Deanos – and at 10.30 on a Saturday night, it was really buzzing with all the soldiers and airmen from the base mixing noisily with locals, especially the single girls and everybody just a tad worst for the weather! And then at 11.00 the bell rang and it was just like the old days – time! Everybody piled out on the pavement – there were even a a male and female bobbie hanging around just in case, but it was all really good humoured and we made firm friendships with soldiers from Leeds, Liverpool and Essex and one airman from South Wales. A great evening.
This morning the weather was bright and sunny with azure sky for our flight from the local Stanley Airport to Carcass Island. Four of us flew in the BN Islander over the hundreds of islands at no more than 3000ft, absolutely brilliant. Met by the owner of the lodge and driven over to the house in one of his 4 x 4s – that’s all everybody has here and over 90% must be Land Rover basics! The Lodge has 6 bedrooms and is all very relaxed with cups of tea and cakes on arrival.
One of the islands that wasn’t on our plan was West Point and that was disappointing because that was where there were nesting brown brow albatross. So serendipity, the boat that takes visitors over to West Point was moored in the bay and was going over there anyway, with room for 4 more. What an amazing afternoon! I had seen a nesting albatross before but nothing could have prepared me for a full colony of hundreds of birds nesting amongst the tussocks and, not only that, but sharing the space with even more rockhopper penguins. The albatross were flying overhead, sometimes missing by inches and the rockhoppers were almost underfoot -spent ages just enjoying the experience.
A couple of seals and lots more birds to see including various geese, some with goslings being watched hungrily by the striated cara caras, known locally as Johnny Rooks. Cobs wren, the redbreasted military starling, and, later on a couple of Magellenic penguins. This really is a magic spot