Fantastic beach from Stanley

The flight from the UK to Ascension Island was 8 hours, and if you thought food served on a commercial airline is bad, imagine what it might be like for a British-ministry-of-defense-contractor airline. Plain water was only served on request as the standard was orange or pink colored “juice”, similar to Tang or Capri Sun sold in Turkey, but in no way qualified to be called “juice”. On our flight, in addition to the British Antarctic Survey cruise participants on their way to the Falklands, there were military personnel who would be stationed at either Ascension Island or the Falklands, and families of those traveling for a visit to see those who might already be stationed there. In that respect, the 767 was relatively empty and sooner or later all of us claimed their entire row of seats and slept for a bit. The best part of this flight was that those of us from WHOI, BAS and other institutions (from Denmark, Canada, US and the UK) who will be on the cruise together met, and immediately started to investigate each other’s research.

Another awesome beach.

On the 767, each seat had its own monitor, showing 8 movies all of which I happened to have seen already. The 9th channel showed a documentary on the non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, and over eight hours I watched that three times. When we landed at Ascension Island it was 4 AM in the morning, and a comfortable 24 C. We had to wait in the terminal “garden” for about 90 minutes until the aircraft was cleaned and refueled. Hanu, Chris and Clay spent 6 days at Ascension Island several years ago as a part of their transit for a cruise, so we looked at their hiking and beach photos from that time, regretting a little bit, that we didn’t have more time.

The flight from Ascension Island to the Falklands was another 8 hours. This second flight seemed less crowded then the first, so we spread out even more. I watched the documentary on the non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum another three times, and spent the rest of my time trying to figure out a crochet pattern, which was supposed to come out to be a square but somehow I kept getting a circle.

You can see the kelp (tall seaweed) reaching the surface of the water.

Once in Stanley we checked into our rooms at the Lookout Lodge ( a modest hostel )  around 6 AM and crashed until about noon. After lunch most of the cruise participants gathered for a short hike to where we were told a penguin colony existed, and this short hike was only 4 hours roundtrip. All we saw was ONE penguin that seemed to be unhappy by our presence and made some strange sounds. Minding our way along the path marked with “Danger! LandMine!” signs, we made it back to the lodge. And by the way, at the Falklands, the temperature was far from the 24 C at Ascension Island – it was probably around 5-6 C with the wind. I was wearing two fleeces, a windbreaker shell, a wool hat and gloves, and even though I sometimes got hot during the hike, all those layers were actually necessary.

A lonely penguin.

Stanley, or what I’ve seen of it so far, is beautiful, and reminds me a little bit of Çeşmealtı in winter time. It has a concrete moulded boardwalk, with nice small houses along the shoreline but nothing close to the fertility and abundance of fruits and vegetables of the Aegean. Most people keep a small garden, some have a glass greenhouse, where they grow their vegetables but the island is really barren. In terms of greenery, there are some pine and cypress-looking trees that were clearly planted by the British, and some endemic grasses and bushes. Tussac grass, in particular, seems to be especially important for the sustainability of the endemic species. There is also kelp, which besides signaling fertility in the water, immediately made it a very exciting place for diving to me. There is a dive locker at the sea side for researchers, and once it opens on Monday I plan to chat with them about whether recreational diving is possible. Hanu has OK’d that I can dive as long as I don’t get the bends (bends = decompression sickness, or vurgun in Turkish).

We are being ripped off in Turkey.

By the way unleaded fuel is 86 pence a litre (2 Liras) making it cheaper than Turkey (3.5 liras per litre) here at the end of the world…

We have another 4 days in the Falklands and most of our time will be taken up by testing our gear and making sure we have everything ready once the JCR is here. So far we are rested and all is going well.

Update: It has been brought to my attention that it is not yet quite summer here – so I’ve corrected the title.

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1 Comment on Springtime in the Falklands

  1. Hulya Saydam says:

    Deryacim,

    Just like Canan, I check your blog a few times a day. Everything you write is interesting, this is like an adventure for the whole family. Wishing you and your team all the best. And keep the posts coming…

    Your ‘krim’ teyze

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