31 Oct 2015

Expedition To South Georgia Island by Maureen

3/23

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5:40am Flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas and layover. Our Patagonia pre-trip participants are meeting us here and I introduce myself and give them the run-down of the day ahead.

11:30am Flight to Mount Pleasant/Stanley, Falkland Islands.

2:00pm Arrive in the Falkland Islands, get everyone through immigration, get everyone their luggage, get everyone through customs, get everyone's luggage tagged, get everyone a packed lunch, get everyone on the bus. We also learn that a big storm is coming and that the captain says we have to leave as soon as possible, so we now have no time to tour Stanley.

3:30pm Guided bus ride from Mount Pleasant Airport, which is a British Army Base, to the ship. What we hadn't noticed (and what we were told by our guide) was that our airplane got a military escort by 2 military planes as we entered the Falklands' air space. We had a mini-tour of the base as we left the area -- saw some Welsh flags, so a Welsh contingent must have been present. After we left the base, the tour guide talked about: the geologic history of the islands and pointed out that the rock runs found here are the largest (and therefore best) in the world; the land-area of the islands, which is about the same size as Wales, which is the same size as Connecticut, which is the same size as Lebanon; the political history including the war in 1982 and the landmine removal that is still happening (and the ensuing landmine explosions that happen about 4pm once a week); and about the various money-making schemes people have come up with to use the open land on the Falklands, such as sheep farming and reindeer farming (so far only the sheep are somewhat successful, though there isn't much market for sheep products nowadays). By the time we reached Stanley, we only had 10 minutes to explore before needing to hop back onto the bus to the ship. From what little I saw of Stanley as we drove through, it looks very pleasant and quaint, and should since they have a population of about ~3,000.

5:30pm Board the Ortelius! We each get delivered to our cabins (I take a dramamine tablet that I should have taken earlier in the day), then we are all directed to the Lecture Room for a short orientation. After that, we have to get our lifejackets from our cabins and join the group in the Bar so that we can learn and practice our muster stations/procedures. Then we have a quick meet-n-greet in the Bar that ends in a champagne toast.

8:00pm Dinner, we all find seats in the Restaurant. I'm sitting with Ray, Moe, and Elaine. We order our meal, get served our salads, eat our salads, then one by one, we retreat back to our cabins without our dinners: first Ray, then Moe, then me and Elaine. I was feeling OK so long as I could look out the window and watch the horizon as it rose and fell. After dark crept over the ocean, my view disappeared, and the motion started to get the best of me. I got ready for bed, then got to sleep.

Top photo: View from the plane taken somewhere between Santiago and Punta Arenas
Bottom photo: Cabin 430 -- my home for the next several weeks