Montevideo, Uruguay and Stanley, Falkland Islands

Day 20 - Wednesday, January 25th - Montevideo, Uruguay:  The ship was late getting into port, as their had been a storm overnight and as a result lots of port traffic.  Our tour today was by steam train and bus.  The train system in Uruguay was built by the British, and the steam engine that pulled our train to the Colon station was built in 1910.  The passenger cars were refurbished and quite nice.  After the train ride, we saw different parts of the city by bus:  the early Colonial section, the middle class section and the expensive part of the town.  We made several stops to look at some sculptures, and also saw a memorial to the last five indigenous people of Uruguay belonging to the Charruas tribe.  They were captured and put on a ship to Europe where they were to be displayed at the Louvre.  Very sad.  We stopped at a monument on the river, where we saw surfers.  Our guide said the waves were high because of last night's storm and that you seldom saw surfers on the river.  Uruguay is the most liberal country in South America and has an illiteracy rate of 1%.  There was a lot of trash on the streets and graffiti on buildings, but we enjoyed our first visit to this country.

Day 21 - Thursday, January 26th - Sea Day:  There is a new group of lecturers on board and we heard two of them today.  Bob Hofman spoke this morning about the Antarctic Marine System and told us about the whales, seals, dolphins and penguins we may see in the coming days.  Warren Salinger, who has worked with many NGO's, founded the Greenly Foundation for Peace and Justice.  He also worked closely with Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center in creating an organization that monitors elections in South America.  His family escaped Nazi Germany on a HAL ship in 1939.  This afternoon he talked about South America's southern cone:  Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil.  Tonight was another formal night--Marilyn and Ivan have left us and we have a new table for six.  It was just Lillian and the two of us tonight as Paul is out meeting women (he has a wife at home).

Day 22 - Friday, January 27th - Sea Day:  This morning we went to a meeting about our potential landing in Antarctica.  We were told that the day before we need to bring all the outerwear we plan to wear ashore so they can decontaminate it.  They are very strict about the environmental rules. The ships have to burn a lighter diesel fuel so if there's a spill it will evaporate.  If we go ashore we are not to approach any penguins, although they can approach us.  There are about 50 people signed up for the flight and shore excursion from Punta Arenas to Antarctica.  We went to Warren Salinger's lecture about Argentina this morning.  He's a very interesting speaker.  We had a pretty lazy day--played trivia a couple of times and had a lot of laughs.  There are only four of us at dinner now and we'd choose other partners if we could, but we've decided better the devil we know than the devil we don't know.

Day 23 - Saturday, January 28th - Stanley, Falkland Islands: Ships are not always able to stop at Stanley because the seas are often rough.  We were very fortunate to have a nice day, temps probably in the mid 60s, although there were strong winds.  We did a couple loads of laundry in the morning, as no one else was doing laundry on a day in port.  We went ashore in a tender about noon and did some walking around before our double-decker bus tour in the afternoon.  We stopped at the Victory Bar and thought we would have a bite to eat, but it was very crowded.  The population of Stanley is about 3,000, but there were two cruise ships here today, so the population was more than doubled.  The Anglican Christ Church Cathedral claims to be the southernmost cathedral in the world.  There are penguins on this island, but we didn't take that tour.  On the bus tour we saw the beach where the Argentine soldiers came ashore in 1982.  There are numerous shipwrecks close to shore all around Stanley.  It's a very expensive place to live, as they don't have any timber on the island and a lot of food has to be imported, too.  There aren't many choices in transportation to get away, either, and it would be a very solitary existence.  The inhabitants of the Falklands are very British, but Great Britain doesn't support them financially.  It was very interesting to hear the story of the Falklands War from both sides:  the Argentines blame the British and the British blame those awful Argentines.  There's a memorial to the war and the nearby street is called Thatcher Drive.  We stopped at a small museum before the tour ended about 4:00.  The internet has been very slow until now and will probably get worse as we're cruising around Antarctica.  We have no idea when we'll be able to publish again.

Click here for photos of Montevideo and Stanley

© Jay Deitch 2018