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    October 20

  • 01:12 AM

18 hours flying, 4 airports, then home

CAROL MARTINDALE, carolmartindale@nationnews.com

Added 16 October 2012


I can’t believe one week in The Falkland Islands has passed already and it's time to head back home. But before I get there, I have approximately 18 hours of flying time and stops at three airports involving, queues,  full security checks and checking of luggage ahead.I definitely wasn’t looking forward to what was ahead of me. It's been great week, full of surprises, starting first with the wonderful group of journalists from across the region. This group -Adam Harris from Kaiteur News in Guyana, Nicole Best from CMC, Lizbeth Ayuso from The Reporter Newspaper in Belize, Nicole McDonald from The Star in St Lucia and Alicia Dunkley from The Observer in Jamaica - bonded from right off the bat and that made for a fabulous week. We all got to enjoy our first visit to The Falklands and with it, the first of many experiences we would share together with Dan Carruthers of the British High Commission in Barbados, who joined us on this whirlwind week of activities and experiences. Now, after a busy week of interviews, tours, sightseeing and some fun thrown into the mix of it all, it was now time to head home. The flight from The Falklands was Saturday afternoon but we headed out from our respective lodgings early that morning around 9 because we were taking a tour of the military base at Mount Pleasant where the airport is located. There we met with Brigadier Bill Aldridge, who spoke briefly about the military and those under his charge. The base there is fully equipped. In fact I realized why I rarely spotted a soldier in the capital of Stanley. The base had a cinema, a bowling alley, grocery shops, pubs and restaurants. While visiting, we met Jamaicans Taneshia Bent and Louis Henry, who serve in the military. After that it was time to head to the airport and start the journey home. First, the leg from The Falkland Islands to Punta Arenas. That journey would be about two-plus hours - not too bad and I was sure the time would quickly pass. It did. A quick disembark of that LAN Chile flight to complete Customs and Immigration checks and we were on our way again. This leg would be close to four hours as we travel to Santiago, Chile. This didn't go as fast and I sense a feeling of restlessness moving on. Still it was bearable. Two trips down and two more to go. It wasn’t fun traveling the full distance and I welcomed the stay in Santiago for the day when we were heading to The Falklands. I longed for that rest day on this journey. In Santiago, we start the process all over again. We collect bags and check them back in and we go in search of something to eat. Needless to say we were ravenous after snacking only on coffee and crackers and cookies, compliments LAN. It was time for real food. I was ready to devour a steak, medium rare and mash with a salad. Instead, I had to settle for an over-priced, low on taste wrap, that barely satisfied my hunger. Better could not be done, however, since most restaurants were closed. It was now about 10:30 pm and our flight was scheduled to leave around 11. Then an announcent – first in Spanish – but before the English translation, we heard the groans and knew exactly what that mean. The flight was delayed. After about a half an hour wait, we boarded the flight – not without more checks, and we were off  to Miami. This was going to be a long, overnight trip of about eight hours. This was the part of the travel that I wasn’t looking forward to. I couldn’t find a comfortable spot to rest my head and even with a meal, complete with Chilean wine, the eight hours ahead would still be painful. But we made it and by the Sunday morning, just after 8, we were at Miami International Airport. I was concerned because we were cutting it close to our check in for the flight to Barbados, and the lines ahead were extremely long. Once cleared, members of our group hardly got a chance to say goodbye to each other and had to literally sprint to our respective check in counters to catch our flights. We were all cutting it close, but I made it. Unfortunately a couple of my colleagues did not and had to take later flights. Once on board, I was relaxed and was ready to see my rock. Still, I reflected on my week in The Falkland Islands, happy that I got the opportunity to see a country that was so different from any I had ever visited, and experienced the life of a people, that although vastly separated geographically, was still so culturally connected. carolmartindale@nationnews.com    


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