Lots of people come and go here. Those on short-term contracts (Contractors) are in abundance so it leaves an odd dynamic to life. In most towns and cities, most of the people you meet are people who live there and will be around for a while so you can bank on lasting friendship. Here, things are slightly different. The population can only be described as ‘transient’. A significant proportion of the people you meet are either starting, part way through or just coming to the end of a contract of 1-2 years and therefore are essentially in the process of leaving. This is, in many ways, quite sad and has inevitably seen us losing some people we hold as good friends (We miss you Zoe and Travis). You meet people, become good friends with them and then, before you know it, their contracts are up and they are taking the 18 hour flight back to UK. This would be easy to criticise but we find ourselves in their very situation. I guess, for those arriving next year, we are likely to be those people; part of the tight-knit community here and yet due to depart and possibly never return.
I’ve spoken to at least one Islander who adopts an attitude to us contractors akin to that of Vietnam infantry greeting replacement troops; try not to learn their names, don’t get too close and it makes it easier to deal with losing them. I can’t say I buy into that philosophy at all, though. I don’t see that it’s right to deprive yourself of the effect that so many people could have on your life, especially when Han and I met while we were at Uni and were therefore due to leave. We never could have known we’d end up engaged. With that all in mind, we’ve been good friends with a couple of people here on a 3-month contract (Marek and Emma you’ve likely seen in our photos) and we’ve been trying to share as many adventures with them as possible. While Han was away thistle-bashing on Saunders (her blog on that is due at some point), I decided to tick a few things off Marek’s Falklands hit-list before they depart so we set out on an ambitious jolly; a round robin of East Falkland heading up to Cape Dolphin (see previous blog), loop around to San Carlos (the British landing site from ’82) and come back to Stanley via Goose Green and the Bodie Creek Bridge, with the intention being to make it back to Stanley for dinner plans at a friend’s by 6:30pm. Things did not end like that.
Cape Dolphin worked out well, a gorgeous day took us up to East Falklands’ most Northerly peninsular. No sooner had we stepped out of the car and I began warning the boys about the danger of sea lions appearing out of nowhere than we jumped at this big beastie awaiting us next to the track. Cape Dolphin is 2 hours’ drive from Stanley, with no phone or VHF radio signal (used quite a bit here) and a 45 minute off-road drive from the nearest house. A break-down here would have been pretty tiresome and a very difficult recovery.
On the way in I thought I’d felt something go on the front suspension (not unusual as we had driven over 8 miles off road) but it seemed OK when we checked it out so we dropped down on to the rock shelf to spend some time with the sea lions. It was a difficult place to leave but we’d disturbed them enough. The sea lions will run from you, which makes you feel a little guilty but it did give me this series of pictures which I quite like:
Following that the car thankfully fired up fine and we headed to San Carlos for tea, fine company, reassurance of the car’s suspension by a proper Benniee (a Falkland Islander, farmers usually) and then on to Goose Green and the Bodie Creek Bridge for sunset. Never does anyone think they’d be standing at the Southern-most suspension bridge in the world on a sunny day in the Falkland Islands.
Things were going well until our way back to Goose Green when, on a perfectly flat bit of track, something went crunch and my steering locked up. Even I knew that was not a good sign. True enough, there was no further for it to go. The car that had been so much a part of my transformation into life here was dead (broken chassis from what we hear but we’re waiting to get it into town).
During our various off-road adventures, I had been wondering what would happen if you broke down in Camp, away from any help. Turns out we found out the hard way. Luckily for us, our valiant vehicle chose not to lock the steering doing 60mph on the MPA road, or out at Cape Dolphin where she’d have been impossible to recover without a helicopter or something but she carried us not far from Goose Green and we walked it, made use of some Falkland hospitality and waited out for our lift; not such a chore with the classic Falklands sunset:
Watch this space for news on our newest transport and the adventures it brings us. We’ll miss you Surf!