13th July 2012 Washington DC, USA
A trip to 51 degrees south
In Washington DC, the summer climate has reached its miserable peak of 100+ degrees. While my colleagues are packing their swimsuits into their backpacks and heading off to the beach, I am scouring my closets for a warm winter coat to face the cold winds of the South Atlantic with a visit to the Falkland Islands.
I’ve always had a sense of adventure for exciting work travel. My previous work in the anti –trafficking movement took me to some warm and desirable climates in the Caribbean, including a small intriguing country called Suriname. However, my trip to the Falkland Islands will definitely rank as my most fascinating destination thus far.
Judging by the questions and curious looks I have received by friends, the Falkland Islands are not a well-known destination for many Americans. The islands are one of 14 territories that consist of the British Overseas territories (for more information, read the White Paper on the Overseas Territories). The islands have a population of just over 3,000 people, the majority of which are British by birth, and many who can trace their family origins in the islands back to the early nineteenth century. As a close neighbour to Antarctica and the southern tips of Chile and Argentina, the Falklands have developed a self-sustaining economy built around agriculture and fishing, in addition to a vibrant tourism industry that enables visitors to experience their stunning landscape, diverse wildlife population and friendly people.
The Islanders have provided a wealth of information on things to do, where to stay and most importantly, where to watch the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympic Games. In addition, a series of short documentaries by 51° South offered me a unique inside perspective into the lives of the Islanders. Their recent video introduced me to Troyd Bowles, a pilot with the Falkland Islands Government Air Service, who will be transporting me to East Falkland to meet with Islanders living in Camp (the term used for small settlements in the countryside).
Although a 28 hour plane trip sounds daunting, I am truly excited to visit the Falklands and meet its islanders. I have met a small handful of people who have had the opportunity to visit, and they recommend connecting with the people who have contributed to the Islands’ legacy and identity. I’m sure there will be many opportunities to dive into a traditional British pub, to cheer on our British athletes – from 7,800 miles away.