Saturday, December 12, 2015

Dallas: JFK and W

Dealey Plaza with the School Book Depository
 in the background
Our flight home from Buenos Aires went through Dallas, so we decided to break up the long flight and spend a couple day here in a city that we’ve never explored. Our Hilton Hotel was positioned just 5 short blocks from Dealey Plaza, the infamous square that went into the history books at 1:40 PM on 22 November 1963.  We’ve all seen the TV shots and the Zapruder film of the place where President John Kennedy was killed on that unforgettable day.  But as many times as we’ve watched the incident on TV, we had never seen the actual layout of Dealey Plaza in person. 

Window in the School Book Depository where
Oswald fired three shots (note: the cardboard boxes
seen in the window are just as they were back in 1963)
Dealey Plaza

With directions from the hotel’s front desk, it was an easy, almost straight 10-minute walk down busy Elm Street to Dealey Plaza.  We set out on foot to explore. And there it was in all its “surreal splendor:” the School Book Depository building, the one we had seen so many times thru the years on TV.  As we stood at the front entrance to that building and pondered the events of that time, it slowly sank in that this was the place where the murder of a president took place in broad daylight over 50 years ago.  It was eerie how familiar the plaza looked even though we had never been here before. Aside from the matured trees, the area was virtually unchanged in appearance since 1963.  
By seeing it in person, we could get a sense of the scale by actually walking around the plaza and visiting the various places so often talked about by newsmen who covered the horror of that day. 

X marks the spot where the shooting
took place on Elm St.
Each important component of Dealey Plaza was marked with plaques that indicated what had happened there.  Both of us had vivid memories of the assassination from our youth and being here really brought the past to life, adding depth & breadth to the unforgettable events. There was the “grassy knoll,” and the spot where Abraham Zapruder stood as he filmed the event with his simple Bell & Howell movie camera; also, the lawn where onlookers ducked for cover as the shots rang out, the clearly visible end window on the 6th floor of the School Book Depository where the 3 shots originated, the underpass where the motorcade sped away after the shooting, and even an “X marks the spot” on the exact spot on Elm Street where the bullet first hit the president.

The famous grassy knoll

Next, we went to the 6th floor of the School Book Depository and spent 3½ hours devouring all the information on display.  The museum had very few artifacts, but effectively recreated the era along with the politics and the emotions through a mix of visual displays and audio guides that included firsthand descriptions by people who were there.  There were several mini auditoriums strewn around the 6th floor for brief videos on events of the era.  The corner where the actual shooting took place was sealed up in with a plexiglas see-thru wall, and the cardboard boxes that shrouded Oswald’s movements were positioned exactly as he had stacked them on that day.  Of course they also displayed a bolt action 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano Italian Carbine with a 4 power scope attached, exactly like the one that killed Kennedy; Oswald had bought this gun thru a mail-order add for about $13.

View from the School Book Depository
The museum was very moving despite the lack of official artifacts. The museum took us back to the “Camelot days” of the Kennedy administration and reminded us of JFK’s inspiring vision of the future. For us, it was like reliving a time that deeply affected our lives. In retrospect, we can see that JFK’s assassination, and all the violence that followed, set in motion a changed world, which is still experiencing the effects of those gunshots even today.

George W. Bush Presidential Library
George W. Bush Presidential Library

We had never seen a presidential library before, so we took a ride on the metro out to the George W. Bush Presidential Library located on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Campus. 

Laura and President G.W. Bush
As you would expect, the part of the library that we saw was more of a museum, highlighting the accomplishments of the George W. Bush administration with heavy accent on the days of 9/11 and post 9/11.

Actual twisted World Trade Center girder
One of the best exhibits was the room where a massive piece of twisted girder from the World Trade center surrounded by walls covered with the names of all who had died that day. We were encouraged to touch the steel, and that in itself was a very moving experience. 

"Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
They also had a “down-home” style video hosted by the Bush twin daughters (Jenna and Barbara) that emphasized George’s sense of humor and was pretty funny. The best line had to do with George’s penchant for chopping down woodland trees and cleaning out the brush on their Texas ranch; his girls refer to it as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

Dallas at night
We had an interesting time in Dallas, but it is definitely a city of contrasts. On the one hand, it is an impressive modern city of stunning architecture and dramatic skyscrapers. On the other, it is a city of homeless people who asked us for money everywhere we went. One man was quite aggressive and shouted nasty things at us when we declined to give. Anne noted that of all the places in the world we have visited, she felt most unsafe in Dallas!

As you know, we usually fly United, but for this trip we flew LAN (which we praised earlier) and American Airlines. We want to give kudos to American Airlines also for their professionalism and high level of customer service. Our flights were even reasonably comfortable with some extra leg room; that made a huge difference. In the future, we’ll be flying American whenever we can. 

As always, until our next adventure, we thank you all for traveling with us, and for all your kind questions & comments regarding this trip.  Our next trip will be to Iceland, so stay tuned and we’ll let you know as the details unfold.

In a replica of the Oval Office, Frank's thinking about
making a run for Pres!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cities of the Rio de la Plata

Mouth of Rio de la Plata with Montevideo
in the background
Our ship moved north along the eastern shores of South America until we reached the broad Rio de la Plata River estuary where our next two ports were located: Montevideo in Uruguay and our final port, Buenos Aires in Argentina. The mouth of this river is 220 km wide (about 140 miles wide), the largest mouth of a river in the world.  It totally fooled famed explorer Ferdinand Magellan back in 1517 when he passed by the mouth and thought he’d found a cut-thru to the Pacific Ocean.  Yes, given this very wide river mouth, Magellan thought he had found a shortcut thru the southern tip of South America when he saw this inlet to the Rio, and that this would avoid taking ships around the dangerous Horn.  Of course, he was wrong; but, he later discovered a cut-thru which he called the "Straits of Magellan" further south of this river mouth, which did indeed "cut-thru" and avoid the trip around the Horn.   
Welcome to Montevideo
Montevideo, Uruguay

Uruguay is one of the smallest countries in S. America, with only about 3 million people total; it’s tucked between two much larger neighbors, Argentina and Brazil. The capital city of Montevideo, where over half of the population lives, has a nice laidback vibe. Uruguay was created and settled by immigrants, mostly Italian and Spanish, and much of the architecture has that European look.

We especially admire the former Uruguayan president named Artigas who is called the father of the country. He was also called the poorest president in the world because he donated his entire presidential salary to charity! How come no president has ever done that back in the USA?

Parrilla with large assortment of grilling meats
We spent half a day roaming the old city on our own. Lots of vendors set up tents & tables on a large pedestrian square near the port where we browsed the local goods while a man sang in Spanish while a couple danced the Tango. Inside the nearby Mercado (market), small cafes specialized in grilled meats cooked on open wood-fired “parrillas” (Spanish for grills, and pronounced:”par-eesh-as”). All those grills created a smoky but somehow very appealing atmosphere along with some thick, delicious-looking steaks.

Anne with her new mate-drinking artist friend
The favorite drink here in Uruguay (and also in Argentina) is mate (pronounced: “mat-tay”), a hot drink similar to tea but with more of a kick. It is served in a special gourd-shaped mate cup (the cups used to be made from actual gourds) and drunk through a special metal straw. Mate supplies are sold in all the stores: matching sets of cup, straw and thermos. People drink this stuff all day long, carrying their mate supplies (including a thermos tucked under the arm) everywhere they go. We bought a watercolor painting from an artist who was seated outside the market, painting and drinking his mate. The painting is a self-portrait of him drinking mate – a perfect souvenir from this mate-addicted country!

Tasting the fabulous Tannat wines of Uruguay
We wrapped up our visit to Montevideo with a winetasting to reacquaint ourselves with Uruguay’s signature grape, the Tannat. (You know we can’t possibly do a whole trip without at least one winetasting!) The friendly guys at the Montevideo Wine Experience bar were happy to serve us a tasting of three different Tannat wines along with a plate of crackers, cheese, and smoked pork. Excellent wines and a fun time! We rarely get to sample Tannat wines, as Uruguayan wines are seldom found in North America.

Vibrant shops and street vendors in the La Boca
neighborhood of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Our cruise ship stayed overnight in Buenos Aires giving us two full days to explore this exciting South American city of 15 million people.  Buenos Aires is the 2nd largest city in S. America, exceeded only by Sao Paulo in Brazil. We had spent several days here in Buenos Aires back in 2008 and looked forward to seeing more.

Monument to the War in the Falklands
Anne had arranged a private tour for just the two of us with an excellent guide named Marcelo. We began our tour in San Martin Park; San Martin is a national hero who liberated the country from the Spanish. The park contains two very different opposing monuments: the British Tower, a striking Big Ben-style edifice that was a gift from the British in the early 1900’s; and the sober Monument to the War in the Falklands, purposely placed in a face-off position with the British building.

Marcelo explained that after Eva Peron died (the famous Evita) in 1952, President Peron was removed from office and exiled. He ended up marrying a stripper named Isabel, but managed to return to Argentina and get himself re-elected with Isabel as his Vice President. Unfortunately, Peron died in 1974, leaving his clueless wife Isabel as the new President of the country. The military took over and the resulting dictatorship was the beginning of what Marcelo called “the dark days.” During this time, anyone who disagreed with the corrupt military government soon disappeared permanently; there was an estimated 30,000 disappearances over seven years. The favorite “disappearance method” used by the military was to drug the person and throw them out of an airplane over the ocean. No body, no crime!

Gorgeous Jacaranda trees
All around Buenos Aires, we saw the colorful blue-flowered Jacaranda trees. These trees line the streets of the city and are the equivalent of our own cherry blossom trees that people seek out in early spring around Washington DC.

Colorful houses of La Boca
We visited the very colorful neighborhood of La Boca, one of the liveliest areas on Buenos Aires. La Boca was originally a port, and when sailors repainted their boats, they left any remaining paint for the locals. Naturally, the locals used these colorful paint remnants to decorate the outside of their homes in bold primary colors. Today La Boca is a fun, touristy place with a strong feeling of community.

Dancing at the milonga
We also visited a milonga which is a tango dance club open to the public. Cafe Ideal, the oldest milonga in Buenos Aires, looked as if nothing had changed here since the 1950's. We felt as if we had entered a time warp and sat mesmerized as the elegant couples swirled by improvising their own special brand of tango. With it's agile moves in perfect unison, the tango is such a sexy dance; Marcelo said that dancing at a milonga was almost like having sex with a stranger.

Enjoyable Uruguayan beer
As you know, Frank always likes to sample the indigenous beer of any new location.  In Uruguay, we found the local beer called “Volcanica” was quite popular.  We thought it not bad, but nothing to write home about. 

Frank enjoys his new fave beer, Quilmes

In Buenos Aires, Marcelo recommended a local beer called “Quilmes,” so we gave it a shot.  If you are a beer connoisseur, we think you’ll find this to be a truly excellent and refreshing lager, and they also have a stout that is not bitter or harsh.  Even Anne liked the stout, and she’s not usually a fan of the dark. If you haven’t tried Quilmes yet, we highly recommend either version (light or dark) next time you get down Argentina way!!

Mate mugs for sale at the San Telmo market
San Telmo is a famous market in Buenos Aires where vendors line Defensa Street selling souvenirs, art works, and antiques. On our last day, we had a fun time in this market, strolling, shopping, and people-watching.  At 3:00 p.m., we had arranged for a driver to pick us up for the one hour ride to the airport, which is located just outside the city.  Everything was on track for us to have 4-5 hours to eat dinner and relax at the airport before our 9:20 p.m. departure flight back to the states.  About halfway to the airport, the traffic became unusually heavy and even came to a standstill frequently.  We were on a six lane superhighway to the airport with 6 lanes in both directions.  What could bring traffic to a standstill on a major thruway like this?  A big accident?  A broken down car?  A demonstration?  None of the above. 

Sports fanatics hang out the windows of a moving bus
It was soccer.  Yea, Argentina was playing Japan (in Japan) the following day, and the Argentine team just happened to be leaving from the airport on our departure day.  You wouldn’t believe the traffic mess created by the fervor of these Argentine sports freaks.  Thousands of young fans in busses, cars, and even walking were jamming up all the main arteries heading to the airport. These crazed fans were honking horns, playing loud music, setting off firecrackers and smoke-bombs, waving flags out the car windows, hooting and hollering things in Spanish that we did not understand, etc., etc.  

Young kids continue to celebrate their team
Busloads of kids were streaming along the highways with young people hanging almost totally out of the bus windows, sitting precariously on the window ledges in positions that were incredibly dangerous. These kids could have easily fallen out onto the road and been hurt or killed!  Thousands were walking on the sides of the highways in the direction of the airport; we guess these folks had no transportation and were going to walk the 45 mile distance to show their team support.  Some enterprising guy was even grilling meats right on the shoulder of the freeway to sell to hungry fans. Everyone was dressed in the red and white colors of their Argentina and/or waving banners that reflected the colors of their team.  Wow, that’s passion! Finally, the police vans rolled in and tried to control the situation as best they could, keeping people from walking across the highway or doing other stupid things.

Soccer revelers blocking access to the airport
With all the excitement and hoopla, we were only inching along at a snail’s pace, and we were all getting worried that this nuttiness could cause us to miss our own plane. In the end, our one hour ride to the airport became a frustrating nip-and-tuck 3-hour trip! Fortunately, we had provided enough buffer time for ourselves. With this intolerable delay, we were rushed in the end, but ok to make our flight.  We asked ourselves, what if we hadn’t planned that far ahead?  What about those travelers who were supposed to be on our flight (or another) and only started out 1 or even 2 hours prior to when they had to be at the airport?  Obviously, we know they never made it.  Nobody could have predicted this massive, unjustifiable delay.

The irony of the situation was that when we finally reached the airport, the Argentinian team had already left for Japan hours ago!!  So then, why were these crazed fans still storming the airport?  Yes, these people were flocking to the airport even after their team had long gone, preventing real travelers (like us!) from getting to the airport on time.  Scratching our heads in disbelief, and thankful that we’d made it to our own flight, we could only guess that these soccer nuts were just looking for an excuse to party. We have never seen such an ardent, vacuous commitment from supporters like this before.

Sailing around the bottom of the world
After visiting this most southern part of the world, we have a few thoughts for fellow travelers contemplating a trip here. This is a beautiful part of the world with sights you won’t see anywhere else.  It is also cold and desolate with no blockbuster or man-made sights: no Eiffel Towers, no Rocks of Gibraltar, and no thousand year-old pyramids. The attraction of this part of our globe is in the pristine, untouched beauty of the natural surroundings.

Unlike most cruises where the focus is on the ports, the highlight of this cruise was the ride itself. It felt exhilarating to trace the path of famous explorers like Magellan who risked their lives in tiny wooden boats to discover a route around the bottom of the world. We also loved the wildlife and natural beauty: whales, sea lions, penguins, albatrosses, glaciers, ice bergs, volcanoes, pure rivers with untainted water you can drink from, unexplored scenic mountains, and even the 20-foot waves (or higher!) of the seas surrounding the Horn.  With no large cities and scarce facilities, we concluded that you got to love the raw life in order to want to live in this isolated place.  We were able to see how people here cut an existence for themselves under harsh and even extreme conditions.  If you ever need to enter the witness protection program, the southern tip of South America might be a good choice -- they’ll never find you down there, in fact, they might not even bother to look! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Rounding the Horn to the End of the World

Love the happy feet of los penguinos!
Magellenic Penguins

Hola Penguinos! Today, we spent the morning playing with the penguins.  Yes, from Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in Chile and our 3rd port of call, we took a 2-hour ferry hop over to Magdalena Island to see the famous Magellenic Penguins.  These black & white colored birds stand about 2 feet high and nest on this island in shallow holes in the ground that they dig and then burrow into.  Petrels and gulls strut shamelessly among the penguin herd, looking for an opportunity to find an unattended penguin nest, so they can steal their eggs for a quick and tasty meal.

Lone penguin preening himself on
Magdalena island
We strolled along the perimeter of the island, observing penguins sitting on eggs, preening themselves, protecting their chicks, and even crossing the path right in front of us on their way to the ocean for a swim and a meal. These are the barking penguin type, and once they get a-hollering, their honking sounds kind’a like Chewbaca from Star Wars sounding off!

Penguin in burrow awaits the hatching of her eggs
Magellenic Penguins are migratory creatures who only come here in the summer for the mating season. Remarkably, these birds come back to re-nest in the exact same burrow year after year. They also mate for life but will take a new mate if one dies.

Penguins ready to go for a swim
We observed these critters clumsily waddling from place to place on the island and were astounded by their about-face speed and agility when they found their way into the sea. These stumble bums took off like little torpedoes once they hit the water! They became some of the fastest swimmers we have ever seen.  It makes sense that their streamlined frames are perfectly designed to be extremely mobile under the water.  Their seemingly frictionless bodies in water can easily outswim most predators and catch small fish for their meals. They also need to be hardened swimmers to handle the long winter migrations to warmer climes like Brazil.

Elegant Croatian mausoleum
 of Cementerio Municipal 
Punta Arenas Cementerio Municipal

With some time to spare after checking out the penguins, we hopped in a taxi cab to take a look at the local cemetery, “Cementerio Municipal”. Many of you know that we have a cemetery fetish, and this plot had some very elegant mausoleums; you see, some of the wealthiest immigrant families tried to outdo one another with bigger and better monuments to their dead. We were intrigued by the mix of European names – Italian, some English, but many Croatian. We recognized them as the names ending in “sic” -- a dead give-away (no pun intended), just like Supsic which we believe is also of Croatian origin. Turns out that the largest percentage of Europeans who immigrated here came from Croatia.  Maybe we have some cousins here in this part of the world?  Heh, heh.

Tomb of the Unknown Indian
We also saw “The Tomb of the Unknown Indian,” a gravesite dedicated to the indigenous people who once lived here. The statue of the Indian is considered to have miraculous powers and is surrounded by plaques left in gratitude by those who believe the Unknown Indian granted their wishes.

Espana Glacier in Glacier Alley
Glacier Alley

One of the great highlights of this cruise is the scenic sightseeing from the ship. As we sailed through the Beagle Channel (named for the ship that brought Charles Darwin to these parts of the world), we entered the appropriately named “Glacier Alley”. Wow!  These were the most magnificent glaciers we have ever seen, and they kept appearing, one after another. Our favorites were Espana with a stunning set of waterfalls fronting the glacial expanse, and Italia, the widest glacier whose sparkling blue ripples flowed down into the channel. 

Magnificent Italia Glacier in Glacier Alley
We have been so fortunate regarding the weather, and the lighting on the glaciers has been spectacular. It was exhilarating to be out on the open deck not only taking in the sights but breathing the crisp, fresh air that reminded us of weather on top of some of the mountains that we’ve skied. 

Ushuaia from the harbor
Ushuaia, the city at the end of the world!

Ushuaia is known as “Fin del Mundo,” or, the end of the world. Hard to believe, but here we are in Ushuaia, Argentina on the Island of Tierra del Fuego in the southern most city in the world!  It’s a very colorful and a pretty town, nestled next to the water’s edge with the snow-capped mountains of the Darwin Range in the background.

Welcome to Ushuaia, city at the end of the world
(Note the MS Zaandam in the background)
Ushuaia was originally a penal colony where all the worst Argentinian bad guys were sent. Part of their punishment was being put to hard work building the city and infrastructure here. Great use of free labor, we thought! We strolled around the town on our own, glad for a break from some of our previously regimented tours. 

Frank taunts a prison guard at the
former penal colony prison
We visited the Maritime Museum that is located in the old prison.  One part of the museum contained restored cell blocks with descriptions and photos of former inmates, recreating the mood of gloomy imprisonment. The prison had no walls around it – where would an escapee go? Those who tried to get away either died in the attempt or gave up and came back. Life was not easy: prisoners were not allowed to smoke, receive letters, or READ (Anne is quite the reader, and says she would rather be shot than do without her reading material!).

Anne tells a prisoner that even though
 he is cute, she can't help him break-out
Another part of the museum held miniature re-creations of the ancient ships that charted these waters, or disappeared trying. There are many stories here of those ships (450 known ships in total) that sank while exploring these tricky waters. The most recent sinking was in 1988 when the Logos went down right after the Chilean pilot left the captain on his own. Luckily, we had a Chilean pilot helping us out during the entire navigation of these most dangerous waters!

We ended our day in a cafĂ© with wi-fi where we could finish up and send you all a blog update, chow down on a few delicious empanadas, and try out a Beagle beer brewed locally here in Ushuaia! Bet you can’t beat that! We also mailed a postcard to ourselves from the end of the world – will be interesting to see how long it takes to reach us.

El Horno and the Albatross Monument at its peak
Rounding “El Horno”

On the last day in November, our cruise ship rounded the infamous southern-most island known as “El Horno,” as it was dubbed by the Dutch. The Dutch called this island “The Hoorn” because the expedition to explore the southern end of S. America began in the Dutch town of “Hoorn”; unfortunately, when pronounced, the name translates into Spanish as "El Horno" (“The Oven”), which has no real meaning in connection with the island. So, when you next hear the phrase “around the horn”, you will know (or perhaps you already did know!), it is a reference to sailing south around this southern-most island of S. America.

Strange forbidding land that ancient mariners
rightly feared
It was raining pretty hard while we were out on the bow at 0600 this morning, but we were prepared for any & all weather conditions that this ship’s path would deal out.  Also, the icy Antarctic air was bitter on the face and cut thru our clothing in a very short time as we stood there watching the events of the day unfold.  We could see the lighthouse on the island called “The Horn”, where we understand a lighthouse keeper, his wife, and two children live all year round.  That must be one lonely existence for that family! We hope they pay them a good salary!! We also saw the famous Albatross Monument high on the rock which is designed to withstand winds of up to 125 mph.

In and around the Horn, many jagged and nasty-looking rocks protruded from the ocean floor making it look like a place no man should explore. Such a strange and unique part of our planet!

Famed Cape Albatross hunts for food near our ship
Although there was lots of rain and freezing cold temps, the visibility at the Horn was considered excellent by our ship’s crew.  The grayish weather of the early morning added to the drama of these foreboding waters. We couldn’t help but think about all the intrepid mariners who lost their lives here charting these waters and bringing goods to the new world.  Somehow, it actually would have felt incongruous to see this strange and dangerous part of the world on a bright sunny day! 

We became official Mariners when we rounded
 Cape Horn on the MS Zaandam
We never thought about it before, but they don’t use GPS very much here, or anywhere near the magnetic pole for that matter. Not because of any availability problems, but because the GPS is too unreliable and needs too many corrections to be used as a navigational tool.  It takes a very experienced navigator to incorporate any GPS data into his bag of tricks.  “Eyes on the sea” rather than on computers screens are the preferred techniques to get safely thru these waters, just as it was for the ancient (and less ancient) mariners like Magellan, Drake, Fitzroy, Amundsen, Shackleton, et al.

More of the desolate Horn
At some point in the early morning, the ship’s horn sounded, scaring many birds into flight that were perched on the rocks nearby.  The horn alerted all of us that we were crossing from the Pacific into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  The ocean, although bouncy, was not as rough as we had expected. We were told that we had experienced an unusually gentle rounding of the Horn. Rogue waves as high as 100 feet can hit these waters on less cooperative weather days. This has really been a charmed cruise thus far with much better weather than anyone expected! 

The closest we got to Port Stanley in the Falklands (sigh)
A Peek at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

We may have gloated about our good weather a bit too soon. As we headed for the Falklands, the Captain announced that all this calmness was about to change.  We experienced a night of gale force winds (60 knots, we were told), and powerful waves sloshing us around. Thru the night, the engineer in Frank wondered how much torsional force we could withstand from the very rough ocean on the hull and body of this ship, while Anne slept like a baby being rocked back-and-forth to sleep.

In the early morning, we anchored in the harbor outside Port Stanley in the Falklands, but unfortunately, the bitter, gale force winds continued with no sign of lessening, and Captain Wouter van Hoogdalem (yes, that’s his real name; we finally found a name harder to spell than our own! heh, heh) was forced to cancel our port stop. There was an inch of snow on the shore, as it had snowed during the morning hours before we had arrived.  Since tenders were needed to shuttle us into port, it was deemed unsafe in the high winds to use them.  The captain did a few test runs with the ship’s tenders, but they took on too much water while they were being tested.  That was the death knell of our stop here, and any shore excursions on the Falklands. Naturally, we were disappointed, but safety comes first. The statistics show that only one in three of the cruise ships that attempt to stop here in the Falklands actually puts people ashore, so we knew ahead of time that it might not happen.

We did at least get a look and a photo of the city of Port Stanley while anchored in the harbor (so near and yet so far). Here are a couple of facts about this elusive destination. The Falklands are made up of two main islands and 750 smaller ones. 2900 people live here, along with about 500 sheep/resident. Although the Falklands have changed hands many times, the British have owned the island since 1833. Of course, we all know about the 74-day War in the Falklands that was precipitated when Argentina invaded the islands in 1982. Even though Great Britain is 8,000 miles away, Margaret Thatcher dispatched troops to defend the Crown.  A peace was eventually negotiated by the Pope, and the Falklands remained under British control.
The biggest losers in the war were the whales which were often accidentally torpedoed, and the landscape which is now riddled with land mines. BTW in a referendum, the Falkland Islanders voted almost unanimously to stay with Great Britain. Only three people voted no, and everyone here wonders who those three wankers were!  Wisely, nobody is talking so far.

More pics:

Penguins on the move!

Magellanic penguin ponders life on
Magdalena Island

More fabulous glaicers

Anne is thinking about applying for a job
as lightkeeper here at the end of the world

In front of the Horn

Anne won 1st place in Art Jeopardy
on the ship

New friends - Mary, Diane, and Tom all from Arizona

More galciers in Glacier Alley

Frank mails a postcard from Ushuaia (wonder how long it
will take to get from the bottom of the world to us at home)

Hola from the Supsics on the MS Zaandam