Falkland Islands

There is so much to know about the place, the 1982 war, it¹s exploratory history and wildlife but the things most people know about it isn¹t always what comes across in a short visit. I could go on about the brief Argentinean occupation, and how it¹s shaped these islands and it¹s people, but it all seems to fade into the background noise of the actual personality of the place. It¹s not a war torn island, it¹s a place where penguins, people and sheep live in the present, not the past. Sure, I¹ve seen the war museum and monuments, and walked down Thatcher drive, but that¹s what I did my first few times down there. Now my Port Stanley visits are filled with, walks down the streets asking locals for directions to see the secretly famous gnome garden and contemplating on how they reproduce and whether the females have beards too since every gnome has a beard. Or a relaxing lunch at the lovely local Brasserie and see the new art work displayed, only to hop over to the grossest and most truly British, stinky dingy ³Victory Bar² with the staff to get drunk on a single pint of Strongbow (since I¹m a two pot screamer). I¹ve been told it¹s like a pub in the North of England. Lastly a frantic look around the grocery store for my favorite British craving, as it¹s the last store we¹ll see for ages.

It was a good visit, we arrived back at the port greeted by a flustered and distracted port officer taking in our cards at the gangway and were given the all aboard ok. We sailed out of the ³Narrows² and on towards our next destination South Georgia. An hour after departing, we realized we were short one passenger. Now I ran through in my head what other expedition leaders could do about this situation, how do you tell people we have to return for someone left behind? Some would keep it under wraps, and find another excuse for returning, or wait to the last minute to explain the situation after rumors and speculation run amok the ship for hours, twisting into one grand ridiculous rumor, rife with passengers concern about fuel surcharges and itinerary delays. But Laurie handled it with absolute class.

Before anyone could begin to notice, he went right to the microphone ³Hello everyone, we have left behind a passenger in Stanley, we will turn around to pick the person up at the port-² promptly followed by the spilling of martinis and grasping of the hand rails as the ship made a sharp u-turn. No beating around the bush, no room for speculation, he just got it out there, let them gawk about it and get over it. It¹s been a day since then en-route to South Georgia and the entire thing has been forgotten, with just a slight scheduling hangover of 3 hours. It was interesting to be on a ship when an event occurs you know will reverberate among the polar cruise community. Always hearing about the ill fated cruises, and slight bumps along the road, I wonder how this one will translate? It will definitely shape a new manifest protocol on future Quark expeditions.