The South Atlantic in Cameo

Day 54 – Working our way up Brazil – Find Insignia on CruiseMapper

The reality of writing from the road is that our stops are inevitably in the rearview mirror by the time we report on them, which is why Partout today brings you cameos from the South Atlantic when we are, in fact, melting on the northeast coast of Brazil.

No matter. In the conviction there is no such thing as too many photos of penguins and out of a wee bit of heretofore-admitted obsessiveness, we bring you up to date with the South Atlantic in four stops: the Falkland Islands (aka the Malvinas), Buenos Aires and two Uruguayan cities, Punta del Este and Montevideo.

The Falklands: War and Penguins

Geographrophiles (which should be a word if it’s not) no doubt were well-aware of the Falkland Islands before Argentina invaded them on April 2,1982. The rest of us probably became aware of the isles only when PM Margaret Thatcher ordered a vigorous defense of this most-remote of British dependent territories. Argentina proved no match for the UK even in the twilight of the empire’s world dominance, and the occupation ended after 74 days.

Today, the island remains proudly British with Marmite on the grocery store shelves, Union Jacks flapping in the stiff winds and delicious fish and chips served with malt vinegar. The iconic red phone boxes even have working telephones! (Look closely, and you will find someone working it.)

Roughly 3,000 people (about 1 human for every 169 sheep) call the islands home, including any number of immigrants from all over the world who spend at least the summer and sometimes all year working there. Our taxi driver Letty was one of the latter, a Zimbabwean who has lived full-time on the island with her husband for seven years. The couple is raising three children who hate leaving for family trips back to Africa.

Letty drove us to sand dunes not far from the city to view penguins, who outnumber humans by something like 7,000 to 1 (seriously). We are not sure what makes penguins so utterly lovable, but they are, and we loved seeing them one last time before heading out of Antarctic waters. These would be a pair of inseparable kings and a waddle of Magellanics. (And, yes, they a group of penguins is called a waddle. We don’t compete in Team Trivia without learning anything.)

However, especially on cruise time, there’s always something else to see before the ship sails. In Port Stanley, it was at the Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust, where the Falkland War was vividly and thoroughly described and illustrated.

Speaking of the Malvinas

The war may have faded to a footnote to British history in the mother country, but it remains an open wound in the pride of Argentina, which regards the islands they call the Malvinas as their own. The point was driven home by the signs on the official shuttles that carried passengers from the port to the city.

No doubt some of the monuments in the stupendous La Ricoleta Cemetery were making political statements, too, but we were happy just to ogle them.

We did manage to fit in a tomahawk steak for two into the tight sightseeing schedule. It only seemed huge until we started sharing it.

Our tango introduction (pictured above) was supplied by Insignia, which hosted a four-hour extravaganza of food and entertainment for the ship’s world cruisers (about two-thirds of the guests) at the city’s agricultural show ground. Besides topping us off with still more steak, an artist decorated us with body art. Doris’s glitter dragon with sequins hung around until she scrubbed it off with nail polish remover several days later.

Before and After BA

Before and after Buenos Aires, there was Uruguay.

Beforehand, we spent a few hours in Punta del Este, the so-called St. Tropez of South America and also (trivia players take note) the setting for the first naval battle of World War II.

Going to prove cruising is not all about eating ourselves to oblivion, we learned from an onboard lecturer that three cruisers from the British Royal Navy hunted down the German Graf Spee in late 1939. The Spee’s repeated attacks on merchant ships had led to fears the battleship would become a menace to commercial shipping in the Rio de la Plata estuary between Argentina and Uruguay and prompted an order from London to deal with it. The cat-and-mouse engagement lasted several days, producing about 200 casualties combined, and culminated in the scuttling of the German warship and the suicide of its captain. The rest is history, as they say. The anchor of the British cruiser Ajax is today a monument to the battle on display at the tip of the Punta del Este (which really is a point), where we managed not to photograph it.

In its place, we offer the nearby coastline of South America’s St. Tropez.

To wrap up our South Atlantic sailing, we spent a day in Montevideo, Uruguay’s highly walkable capital where a wonderful marketplace is filled with restaurants featuring meat (more steak!) grilled in front of you. Doris opted instead for a haircut, manicure, pedicure and brow wax at onshore prices. Excellent services that would have cost $293 plus 20% service charge on the boat (a nice round $351.60) came in at $67. Doris was a very happy cruiser in Montevideo.

Meanwhile, Louis kept himself occupied walking 17,000 steps with camera in hand and finding a way to turn even a building he called the ugliest thing he saw in Montevideo into art.

Then it was off to Brazil, a new language, a new climate and a few mysteries.

Another Question Answered

Carolyn wrote, “I imagine they load up on produce at each stop? I wonder if not being able to stop in Peru messed up any menus.”

Astute observations, Carolyn. Yes, Insignia takes on local foods wherever we dock, primarily fresh fish and produce. This was the scene that greeted us yesterday upon returning to the ship in Salvador, Brazil. I’m sure the lunch salad I enjoyed today is in there somewhere.

What we notice most are the local fruits. On our first day out of Rio, our breakfast fruits included the ubiquitous watermelon along with guavas, figs, dragon fruit and passion fruit and some fruits we had never seen before. This was Doris’s breakfast plate.

Coming Soon!

Baffled & Bedazzled in Brazil

2 Months Down, 4 to Go

Coming Eventually!

Fitness Afloat

3 thoughts on “The South Atlantic in Cameo

  1. What a thrilling travelogue! And the photos are magnificent!

    My recollection of the turning point in the Falkland “special operation” (to borrow a phrase) was the Brits sinking an Argentine vessel causing hundreds of lost lives. I wonder how promintently that event figured in the island museum.


  2. Wonderful! Commentary and photos. Thank you. I recognize most of the breakfast plate fruits. I hope you were guided into eating what seem to be slimy seeds but are delish.


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