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Once upon a time I posted a call for seized-goods stories. Many fellow bloggers delivered, but most of them have long since moved on from blogging. What remains is my story below.


Somewhere along the way I got it into my brain that it was a good idea for me to spend a week in the Falkland Islands (that’s the Islas Malvinas to you). Really it was not so much that I wanted to spend a week there so much as there are only flights in and out once a week through Chile (and another every 10 days through Britain, but I don’t live in Britain, and that’s expensive, and less frequent than once a week at any rate). The story of the trip itself is all wind and penguins and terrible acrid penguin odor and watery eyes and impressive landscape and very British everything and this quirky (not in a good way) family that shared my route for a couple of nights and also tiny red planes with dashing pilots.

But the story is something else. On my second to last day in the Falklands, I was in Stanley, and had an excursion scheduled, a long, bumpity ride over moss and dale to Volunteer Point, where I was lucky enough to take this kick-ass picture of the king (but not emperor, because they’re in Antarctica) penguins.

I love a parade
Penguins at Volunteer Point

There was one very insufferable fool in the jeep on the excursion, and though we traded him out for someone nicer on the way home, the driver/guide and I became close friends talking about what a tool he’d been. Talk turned to this and that, and it came up that I’d wanted to taste diddle-dee berries, but that they weren’t yet in season. I’d had some jam, but it wasn’t the same. Oh! you like jam?! my guide said. Yes, I said. What about rhubarb jam? Love it, I said. Rhubarb grows in the south of Chile, and sometimes you can find jam, but not often, and stirred into yogurt, it’s delicious (though I hated it as a child, especially in pie form with strawberries, with apologies to my deceased father). The tourguide then drove to her house, and brought me a jar of home-made jam. With a little skirt on top, you know, a piece of gingham, tied with raffia. It was very country special.

The very next day, I went to the very official and uptight airport there in the Falkland Islands and made a terrible discovery. Rhubarb jam is a gel. And as such, it cannot be brought on board a plane. There were more than three ounces of it. I winced when they went to take it away, and then thought of a plan. The airport’s small, I speak the language, I’m going to try to give this a go. I explained how it was homemade jam, and who it was from (Stanley, the capital city is tiny, and everyone knows each other), and it became a giant game of guide Eileen through the airport to find her main luggage (with armed guards, no less), to tuck the jam inside. Everyone heard my story, and I think the fact that I’m just woefully normal (especially for a person who’d visit the Falklkands, they tend to be just on the other side of disgustingly rich because my word is that an expensive trip), and that a local had liked me enough to give me jam made everyone want to help me. In the end, we found the luggage, tucked in the jam and went back through security (in case the armed guards had given me something as contraband, I suppose), and went to the plane. I got back to Punta Arenas (Chile), left the next day for a quick hike in Torres del Paine and sort of forgot about the jam until I was deep on the Carretera Austral in the unpaved part of Chile, and man was that delicious for several days running, on whole wheat crackers and cereal and whatever else I could find.

Thanks airport people, thanks amazing driver tourguide who explained (but did not demonstrate) why it’s called “getting bogged down.”