Saturday, February 25, 2017
We are sailing the Drake Passage on our way to the Falkland Islands, or, if you are Argentine, Islas Malvinas. It’s foggy and a bit windier today. We’ve been warned to expect gale force winds in the afternoon. We’ve seen several albatross skimming along above the waves, looking for fish. They are large birds and have the ability to soar on updrafts for long periods of time, not unlike the eagles we see flying over the Mississippi River and the lakes of Minnesota.
The Falklands consist of two main islands and 776 smaller ones. It has been a British Crown colony since the mid-1800’s, and most of the inhabitants there are of British descent. Argentina has long maintained, and still does, that the islands belong under their government.
We enjoyed a couple of talks by General Sir Michael Rose, retired British Army general, who lists among his many credits the command of Special Service operations during the Falklands War. Argentina invaded the Falklands in early April, 1982. I recall at the time thinking that this was a foolish move on their part. I was of the impression that the British military was much stronger and had more resources.
I didn’t know my history at all. Argentina had a larger Air Force and more warships, plus the advantage of proximity. However, it sounds like they were outclassed by the British in strategic thinking and planning. Both sides made mistakes, some of which caused the war to last longer than necessary. The Argentines could have won if they had worked on strategy. During this 74 day war, about 1,000 people lost their lives and almost 2,500 were wounded. The British did win, and diplomatic relations were reestablished between the two countries in 1989. However, in 1994, Argentina added its claim to the territories was added to its constitution.
Crystal offered a backstage tour this afternoon, which we took advantage of. It’s amazing to see how many costumes and props they can fit into a relatively small space. Costumes hang from the ceiling, props are hung on the walls, tonight’s costumes are arranged on the dressing room chairs for easy access. The tour guides are a married couple, both dancers, who have been doing this for many years. He has been on this ship for 9 years. He talked about the challenges of dancing on a moving stage. He has to judge whether to delay or accelerate a move in order to land properly.
The performers go through a two-month training at the Los Angeles headquarters, then another month on board, getting familiar with the ship and the stage, all before their first performance. Many of the costumes are made by NBC, and it was easy to see the quality. Our guide mentioned that sometimes they are too realistic, i.e. a coat designed for a movie set may be too warm for dancing.
We enjoyed a show after dinner featuring songs from the British Invasion. For the under 60 crowd, I can only say,”look it up.”