Saturday, 9 February 2013

Ο Σταύρος του Νότου και τα πρόβατα στο Port Howard, West Falkland The Southern Cross and the sheep in Port Howard, West Falkland (Feb. 7, Frithjof)

Μόλις ξάπλωσα στη σκηνή μου έξω από το Port Howard Lodge, στο μεγαλύτερο χωριό του West Falkland (με 100 κατοικούς πέριπου). Η πόρτα της σκηνής είναι ακόμη ανοιχτή – δεν θέλω να κλείσω ακόμη, δεν με νοιάζει ο παγερός άνεμος, μάλλον απολαμβάνω τη θέα πρός τον ουρανό και σκεφτόμουνα ότι θα ήταν μια καλή στιγμή να μοιραστώ λίγο από μια μεγάλη, ξανα αξέχαστη ημέρα στη νοτιά άκρη του κόσμου με τους διαβάτες μας. Εχουμε ξανά μια απίστευτη, όμορφη καλοκαιρινή ξαστεριά, βλέπω τον Ωρίονα και το Σταύρο του Νότου, τον γαλαξία μας... τ’αστέρια φαίνονται ξανά τόσο δυνατά!! Σκέψεις, όνειρα... Παράδεισος, πραγματικά...  και ακούω εκαντοτάδες πρόβατα!

I am writing these lines relaxing in my tent, gazing at the amazingly strong stars from the open tent door, not really minding the icy, mild breeze, and listening to the hundreds of sheep around me. The Southern Cross, Orion and the Milky Way above me, I can’t stop thinking how lucky we are to be here. Probably about as close to paradise as we could be tonight, even though a fairly cold one.

Tonight we are in Port Howard, the largest settlement (pop. around 100) in the huge West Island. Alexandra and Aldo each got a nice room in the beautiful historic, fairly posh Port Howard Lodge, while I pitched my tent outside on the lawn (between 2 artillery pieces which came here with lots of love from Argentina back in 1982 – back then, around 1000 Argie troops were based right here among around 50 locals).
Another great summer day in the Falklands has come to an end. It started with a frenzy of office and lab work at SAERI in Stanley, a meeting with Paul Brewin of the FI Fisheries Dept for discussing grant proposals, and then sorting out the remaining packing and logistics for our excursion to West Falkland.
We then got our new rental car, a 4WD Toyota Colorado, from a different company than last time – in fact, the only one that would allow a vehicle to be taken over to the remote West Falkland (after the experience of 2 flat tires we were rather relieved to be with a different company now).
I drove the team – Alexandra, Aldo and myself – to the ferry port at New Haven, about 20 miles west of Goose Green on Falkland Sound which took just over 2 h from Stanley. Again, awesome summer weather! In fact, New Haven is merely a pier next to a colony of gentoo penguins, there’s not even a single building of any sort. We boarded the small ferry, MV Concordia. Pre-booking is essential, since it has only a very small capacity for 10 vehicles at the most, even more so since it also carries all cargo between East and West Falkland. Passengers have to spend the 1 ½ - 2 hr crossing of the usually rough Falkland Sound waters in the small passenger cabin which is locked from the outside by water-tight hatches, nobody is allowed outside. The cars outside get heavily washed in sea water during the crossing.
Already during the approach to Port Howard we sensed that some splendid scenery would be awaiting us in the West Island which is even much more sparsely populated than East Falkland. We had dinner in the lodge, then Alexandra helped me to pitch the tent borrowed from Kay McCallum in Stanley, followed by updating specimen logs on our laptop for an hour and a half in the bar. Tomorrow we’ll be exploring several of Skottsberg’s study sites and type localities here in the West, especially around the large inlet of Port Philomel, which he had visited in the early 1900s, apparently without any phycologists (algal scientists) coming back since. We are particularly after the very enigmatic Cladochroa chnoosporiformis (Phaeophyta), which he described from Port Philomel, but which nobody else seems to have collected ever since. Who knows what we are going to find!!
Καλή νύχτα.

 Road traffic w lots of dust in the Falklands

With lots of love from Argentina
 Concordia Bay at New Haven

 Pt Howard

 Pt Howard

 Pt Howard

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