Arrival in Stanley

I was up early, if not so bright, this morning to catch my rescheduled flight to Stanley. A 6.25am departure meant a 4.45am pick up for the airport, which thankfully went without a hitch. When I arrived at the airport, however, I found a long queue of people stretching the length of the terminal building, most of whom were waiting to check in for my flight. I very quickly ascertained that the two people in front of me were doctors, and taking a guess, asked them if they were the ENT surgeon and rheumatologist that I knew would be visiting the hospital during my stay. Imagine their surprise when my hunch was proved correct.

Despite being in the line up before 5am, we didn’t manage to finally reach the check in desks until about 7, by which time they’d been making boarding announcements for over an hour, despite the fact that most of the passengers were still stuck in the check in queue. Oh well, it was a good opportunity to chat to those waiting in my neighbourhood and hear their stories.

Eventually we reached the check in and I took thankful possession of my boarding pass and headed up to security. This at least was very quick – no separation of liquids, no separation of laptops etc, and no need to take off my hiking boots. Immigration control to exit Chile was equally speedy and within about 5 minutes of leaving the check in desk I was boarding the plane. I have to admit that I don’t recall very much more until we started our descent into Mount Pleasant as my early morning and disturbed night caught up with me and I fell asleep. Remarkably, I don’t even recall taking off.

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By the time I’d disembarked the plane and entered the terminal building at Mount Pleasant the bags were already being offloaded. I was kept amused during the wait for my bag by the sniffer labrador who was walking the conveyor belt like a treadmill, climbing over each bag and giving it a good sniff. Eventually though the sniffer dog and his handler left and it was clear that there were no more bags to be offloaded. Heading over to the local agent, it turned out that everyone that had been in the my part of the queue was missing their luggage. Not a great start, but I was very glad indeed that I’d had the opportunity to shower and change into clean clothes at the hostel or I (and everyone else around me) would have been a lot less happy if I’d still been in my smelly hiking gear!

So when will our missing bags appear? Next week, hopefully, when the next flight comes in. Not much fun for the people who are only staying here a week, or joining research vessels in the meantime, but at least I’ll get 5 weeks worth out of my luggage when it arrives.

The next stop was immigration and I was very surprised when the immigration officer looked at my passport and said, ah yes, we’ve got your name on a list, you’re the medical student, aren’t you? It’s not often you get such a welcome when entering a country! My rather forlorn looking passport which has only been back and forth to The Netherlands since I got it, shortly after moving to Dundee, is now the proud owner of two Chilean and one Falklands stamp and looks far more well travelled.

Having realised that I was missing my bag, the first thing I was concerned about the lack of was my camera battery charger (having run down two of my three batteries in Chile), in advance of my penguin photography excursion that I’ve booked for this weekend. Fortunately a plaintive request on the Falkland Islands community Facebook group has already turned up a number of offers of both chargers and batteries, so I think I’m sorted. Next stop is to replace my medication (guess working in the hospital should make that easier) and find some clothes. Going to the hospital in my jeans and hiking boots will certainly make a change from the normal.

It’s been a quiet day here just settling in and getting to know Kay my hostess for the next 6 weeks and a couple of the other guests who are staying with her. I’ve made friends with her cat, once wild but now very friendly, and met the chickens.

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