My wife and I stumbled upon the Falkland Islands a few years ago when we were exploring Patagonia, and we thought it was just about the best place we visited. Not the prettiest. Not the best climate. Not the most accessible. Certainly not the most exciting. But there was a certain charm about the place, a homeliness, that made it welcome and inviting.
The locals told us there were only about 100 trees on the islands, and we believed them. They probably also told us how many sheep there were -- a very large number, for sure, but I have long since forgotten. But I remember huge swarms of sheep crossing the roads, blocking what little traffic there was for so long that natives simply turned off their car engines and waited for the last one to pass.
I said cars, but I don't really mean that. There aren't many paved roads, and most folks drove Land Rovers. Unlike here in the States where suburban moms use Land Rovers to chauffer kids and to navigate Interstates on the way to the mall, Falklanders really need the rugged vehicles to cross the bogs and tend their flocks -- or, more likely, to take tourists to remote areas where penguins hang out.
We ran into a lot of Brits who immigrated to the Falklands after being stationed there during their military service, often marrying a local. And we were astounded at the stupidity of the Argentine strategy in defending the islands -- they mined the beaches they thought the Brits would use for an invasion. Nevermind that the British just avoided those areas or parachuted in. The end came quickly.
Unfortunately, vast areas are still pocketed with land mines and off limits to people and sheep. You see signs warning of mines all along the coast. But the mines have a tendency to pop up from the bog and are periodically removed. It will be a long process.
We have traveled all over the world, and there are a handful of cities we would return to in a heartbeat -- Paris, Rome, Santiago, Vancouver, San Francisco, and homely Port Stanley. Go figure.