Thursday, December 6, 2007

Stanley, Falkland Islands


When I lived in the Falklands 20 years ago, it was still a close-knit community in which everybody knew almost everybody else, though that had begun to change in the aftermath of the 1982 South Atlantic conflict between Britain and Argentina. In the interim, there have been many dramatic changes, but other things remain the same.

One thing that's developed at warp speed is communications. Cell phone service arrived here only two years ago, and now it seems almost everybody has one--even kids riding bicycles. All this despite the fact that their geographical coverage is limited to selected areas of East Falkland.

Twenty years ago, though, the capital of Stanley had a manual phone exchange and every call went through Eileen Vidal, the switchboard operator, but in its own way this was every bit as efficient as cell phones. If you called asking Eileen to ring Claudette, for instance, Eileen might reply that "she's at her mum's house, would you like me to ring there?"

Other things are unchanged, though. Stanley may be the only capital in the world where there are no car alarms (many people still leave their keys in their cars, in fact), front doors are almost invariably unlocked, and there is no graffiti whatsoever.

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