Sunday, July 29, 2012

Liberation: June 8 - 14

And now for the second installment of Annie-tries-to-remember-everything-she's-done- in-the -Falklands-for-the-past-two-months. Being stuck at the airport in Santiago provides an excellent opportunity for this recap.

Friday, June 8 - Thursday, June 14

I'm not entirely sure what happened this weekend, but I think it involved Jägerbombs. Lots of Jägerbombs. Also probably dancing. But that's most weekends in the Falklands. The Jägerbombs, however, were unusual. I do remember that my back was killing me when I woke up on Sunday. It was so bad that I emailed my absent hosts to see if they would mind my moving bedrooms. The house has two spare rooms, one upstairs and one downstairs. I spent the first few weeks in the upstairs bedroom, which is much larger and has a closet, but also has a rather uncomfortable mattress. With approval via email, I moved my stuff down the stairs to the tiny bedroom, which has a much better bed and a couple of other benefits. First, I don't have to run up and down the stairs to use the bathroom or visit the kitchen in the middle of the night. Second, the room is tiny enough that it contains heat very well. I just shut the door during the day and it's toasty warm even when I've turned the thermostat down at night.

After lollygagging for the past few weeks I tried to establish a routine this week. You know, getting up at a reasonable hour, working a full day, transcribing interviews, and reading library books. It didn't work that well. After a day of this, I was feeling restless so I went over to Christine's for a glass of wine. She convinced me that coming to play water polo on Tuesday night was a good idea. It was fun, but another reminder of just how out of shape I am. It's been a while since I've been swimming so the constant treading water really wore me out. What better way to recover than with a drink at the Vic and a few games of pool with friends?

I went into the museum on Wednesday since with the new exhibition opened, Leona now had time to address my project. I briefed her on my impressions of the existing set of interviews and she promised to start contacting people to set something up for the next week. After out meeting I got my hair fixed by a professional. I walked into the one salon in Stanley in Monday, hoping that seeing my hair in person would inspire them to pity me. It worked and they squeezed me into the schedule for Wednesday afternoon. My hair went from short to REALLY short over the course of 30 minutes. I also got some good news via text message that morning. Christine managed to get me a ticket to the Liberation Ball happening that night in Town Hall. Unfortunately, I had not anticipated attending a ball when I packed my single suitcase to come here. Something to remember for future travels - always come prepared for a ball. I did have a simple cotton dress which served once I did some emergency accessorizing. Not great, but better than nothing. However, with my new haircut and wearing Chucks with my dress, I totally looked like a hipster. Dinner with friends beforehand was delicious, but the ball itself was a bit disappointing. Since Under 18s were in attendance, the bar had to be set up separately from the dance floor and drinks could not leave that room. Therefore, most of the adults crammed into the bar while the teenagers had the run of the dance floor. I danced a bit, but otherwise called it an early night as Thursday promised to be a long day.

Thursday was Liberation Day, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Argentine surrender in 1982. The day began with services at Christ Church Cathedral, but I joined in time for the parade and ceremony at the Liberation Memorial located in front of the Secretariat. The weather was absolutely miserable; windy and cold with very wet snow falling. Even as bundled up as I was, I spent most of morning shivering. However, it was truly impressive how many people braved the weather to honor the occasion. One of the things I have noticed about the Falklands is just how much these people treasure their liberty and respect the armed forces, especially veterans of the Falklands War.

The FIDF looking sharp.
Part of the freezing crowd around the Liberation Memorial.
It was a long day, but I fueled up after the parade with a delicious brunch with Ruth, Christine, and a couple of the CHC crewmen. Normally I hate things like eggs, but this was seriously delicious. Also, we watched football. Somehow I keep ending up abroad during the EuroCup and that seems to be the only time I actually care about football. It is, however, rather convenient that my St. George tattoo can represent England as well as Russia. Well fed and well rested we headed over to the FIDF hall around 3pm. Somehow we made it through the packed space to the bar for a couple of drinks. The section of the hall that didn’t contain the bar did have an interesting display about current development projects and industry in the Falklands. It really reminded me of FIBAB in the Mesilla Valley around the turn of the twentieth century as that organization was also dedicated to promoting the economic opportunities of a remote community. At the FIDF hall I met up with Debs, Paula, Paul, Mike, Vanessa, Alex, and Sebastian, with whom I headed to Shorty's for a late lunch/early dinner.

This is the only time I made it to Shorty's so I'm glad I went with them as it is a bit of an institution in Stanley. It's pretty much your basic diner, but I think the entire staff is from the Philippines. In any case, I had my first burger in a month and it was tasty. From Shorty's we embarked on a pretty epic pub crawl. We started at the Rose as Paul had been requested there for a sing-song (he plays guitar and does sing quite well). Wow - and I thought the Vic was a local pub. The Rose is so local it doesn't even have a sign and it was completely packed. 

The Rose: hiding from tourists in plain sight.
We had quite a struggle to get our drink orders in, but pleasantly surprised to find that drinks were on the house…until it was mine turn to buy a round. Bad timing, that. In any case, we felt a bit out of place and ended up sitting at a table in the corner away from the crowd. It was time to move on. Deano's Bar is east of the Rose on John Street and is a weekend destination for dancing. Though normally the music is more discoteque than hoedown. Apparently on Liberation Day even the clubs are expected to Benny Bop. We spent several hours at Deano's playing dice, which I somehow managed to lose four times. Using five poker dice, we went around the table counting the cumulative number of aces rolled. Whoever rolled the 7th ace had to name a drink, the 14th ace would buy the drink, and the 21st had to drink said drink. Because people think it's hilarious to make you drink awful things I had straight gin, port, bailey's and lime, as well as Kahlua and OJ. Big surprise: Kahlua and orange juice tastes exactly like a Jaffa Cake. That one was pretty yummy. Oh, and between rounds Paul taught me how to do what I refer to as the Falklands Two-step, which is generally done to country music(?). After Deano's we had to stop at the Vic for a game or two of pool, but we ended the night dancing at the Globe Tavern as they had a special license to stay open late that night. Since the day started so early there was no real need to go to anyone's place after that.

I felt the first bit of panic set in as I realized that I only had six weeks left in the Falklands, had yet to do an interview, and had no definite plan for the rest of my time here. Further worry-making was the fact that almost as soon as I get back to the US I'll be moving to New Mexico.

1 comment:

  1. Country-Western music was extremely popular in NI while I was in Belfast during the Falklands War, so I'm not surprised to hear that it's left its mark in Stanley as well. Didn't listen to much music (other than my Zune and the occasional pub band in Dublin when I was there but I suspect that C&W is still very popular there). The real surprise back in the '80s was the existence of Irish C&W bands performing original material!