Old Friends

Looking out the airplane window I suddenly notice a fighter jet appear from the clouds and move rapidly closer until it sat, as if stationary, just off the wing tip. The pilot waved. I blinked and opened my eyes but the jet complete with waving pilot was still flying along happily. This is the kind of welcome you get to the Falklands, escorted in by a friendly fighter jet.

Feeling a little dazed and confused after a long journey from Autumn to Summer to Spring I walked out into the crisp clean air of the Falklands. Joost, my past and future boss was there waiting to drive me back to Stanley. Discussing the friction between the Falklands and Argentina and the cost of tomatoes (at 75p each!), the familiar bleak and beautiful landscape slips past the window. Sheep in the road. Turkey vultures circling overhead. Small red and yellow triangular signs hanging from fences declaring ‘MINE FIELD’ in no uncertain terms.

We drive through Stanley and past what will be my new house in just a few weeks time. It’s large and old and stands proudly looking out over Stanley harbour. The tin roof orange with rust caused by the acidic smoke of the peat fire. ‘Viking House’ fading on the gate. It was the Norwegian embassy back in the days of whaling. A large porch, ideal for growing tomatoes.Viking House

We arrived at my temporary home, the observer house, or more fondly known as ‘Squid Row’. Lots of memories of good times flood back, the place hasn’t changed much in the ten years. I meet Alberto and Debs, Debs cooks pizza and we drink wine. I am sure we’ll all get along just fine.

Friday morning and I am the recycled new boy. Starting back after ten years away but in brand new offices. My shoes squeak in the shiny new corridors. I meet lots of new people and many who were here before. It’s nice to see so many familiar friendly faces. My arrival coincides with the opening of the new fisheries department and at half past four there are drinks and nibbles in the boardroom to whet the departments head.

After work most people head straight to the Vic. I’m glad to see that the pub has not changed at all, I guess it’s hard to improve on perfection. It turns into a long and boozy night and everybody is there, people who run the islands, heads of government departments, people that sail around the world on yachts, men prospecting for oil, Fred and Vera’s burger van, old friends.

Sunday arrives and I pack my bag to go to sea on a research cruise. I’m dreading the imminent seasickness but can’t wait to get back among the albatrosses.


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