M a g a z i n e f o r P o r s c h e e n t h u s i a s t s • y e a r 1 5 • q u a r t e r l y • M a i /J u n e 2 0 1 9 • 5 8
PORSCHE CAYENNE COUPÉ
PORSCHE ON THE FALKLAND ISLANDS C-130 & 911 GT3 RS
The Falkland Islands If we were to ask you "What do you know about the Falkland Islands?", what would you answer? Most of you may remember something about the Falklands War, a bizarre conflict between Thatcher and Argentina a few decades ago. For most, this archipelago is a mystery. A new Porschist story in which countless sheep, penguins, sea lions and just one Porsche play the leading role.
text: kathleen van bremdt - photos: kathleen van bremdt & sven hoyaux
In the South Atlantic Ocean, some 400 kilometres off the Argentine coast and 450 kilometres from Cape Horn, lies an archipelago of more than 750 islands. Between 51 and 52 degrees south latitude, almost entirely at the bottom of the globe, they form the last line of defence against the inhospitable world of ice that is Antarctica. The Falkland Islands consist of two main islands (East Falkland and West Falkland) and a few hundred other smaller islands. For centuries, the islands have been a British overseas territory, and for almost as long they've been claimed by Argentina, too. There aren't many people living on the islands: around 3000, three quarters of whom live in the capital Stanley. Nature dominates these neighbours of the white continent.
Salvador Port San Carlos Hill Cove
Darwin Goose Green
Fox Bay East
Lively Island North Arm
Falkland Islands Sea Lion Island
HOW DO YOU GET TO THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD? With a lot of patience, more than anything. The quickest way is with an RAF unit. Twice a week there is a direct, 18-hour flight from the military base in Oxfordshire (UK) to the Falklands with just one refuelling stop in Cape Verde. There are always a few of spots available for civilians on these military flights. Unfortunately, we weren't lucky enough to snag one of those seats. Then there is the other option: with Latam Airlines from Brussels via Madrid, Santiago de Chile, Punta Arenas and Rio de Gallegos, a solid 22 flight hours and a travel time of two days due to the four layovers. We breathed a sigh of relief when we finally arrived at Mount Pleasant, the international airport on the Falklands.
'The Neck': the most beautiful place on Saunders Island
SAUNDERS ISLAND: FIVE MEN AND A LOT OF SHEEP The bright red twin-engine plane can accommodate up to 9 people. These are the aircraft that FIGAS (Falkland Islands Government Air Service) uses to provide the connection between the many islands. Full of expectation, we look out of the window to catch our first glimpse and see a patchwork of countless, whimsical shapes in water that turns deep blue, iridescent green and Caribbean turquoise on the beaches. Some of the islands are almost flat, others are mountainous with high cliffs and deeply carved bays. Saunders Island is located at the far northwest end of the archipelago and is our first stop. With its 120 km2 Saunders is the second largest offshore island in the Falklands chain. Susan is waiting for us, standing next to her sturdy 4x4, a confident woman with a weathered face and red, veined cheeks from the strong winds. Susan and David Evans-Pole own Saunders. In the winter their island has only five inhabitants: the two owners, their two daughters and one future son-in-law. In the summer - the tourist season - they get some reinforcements, although there are never more than thirty people on the island, including tourists. Sheep, on the other hand, are here in abundance – six thousand to be exact. Saunders, like many inhabited islands in the Falkland region, is a large sheep farm. A total of half a million sheep live on the Falkland Islands, which means that wool is an important source of income. At the moment, the animals are obviously in urgent need of a shave. Thick, gray-brown curls hang half over their eyes, so they all look like they're giving us sultry stares. The landscapes on Saunders have their own stunning beauty: rugged, but full of life. The most beautiful place is 'The Neck', a narrow isthmus with white beaches on both sides ending in a clear blue ocean. It's a dream spot, and clearly the penguins seem to agree. There are thousands of them here. It is not so much the diversity of animals that makes the wildlife on the Falkland Islands so exceptional, but their enormous numbers.
8 The Falkland Islands are one of the main breeding places of the black-browed albatross.
On one of the cliffs is a large colony of black-browed albatrosses, and we climb up to sit close to them. Even though it's a busy breeding season, they let us enjoy their cliff. The birds are beautiful. They have a noble air about them, with their creamy white plumage, black upper wings and graceful, grey-black line above the eye that gives the species its name. The chicks are fluffy with dark beady eyes, squeaking from under their mothers' skirts. On land, these ocean wanderers move a little awkwardly, but when they spread their impressive, strong wings with a wingspan of 2.5 metres, they glide effortlessly and gracefully through the air.
PEBBLE ISLAND: VALHALLA FOR BIRD LOVERS "The island is for sale," is the first thing Riki says as soon as we're in his jeep. "I just run the lodge, but the Welsh family, who have owned the island for 150 years, thinks it's the right time to sell it." "Who could be the new owner?" we ask. "They're looking for someone with a clear plan to diligently and responsibly manage the island and respect its biodiversity," says Riki. Does he also know how much they're asking for the island? "All I know is the price is negotiable," he smiles. Pebble owes its beautiful name to the many agates that were once up for grabs on the beaches. Overzealous collectors have unfortunately made the stones, with their spectacular colours and patterns, an extremely rare find these days. For bird lovers, Pebble Island is the absolute Eldorado. More than 42 bird species call this their permanent. It's like walking into a bird documentary.
The sub-Antarctic climate today is really flexing its muscles today. As we explore the island, even our waterproof gear proves no match for this pouring rain, then a sudden thunderbolt gives some extra drama to the stormy weather. But a Falklander - unlike a Belgian - never complains about the weather. The weather is what it is. The capriciousness of the climate is one of the main assets of the islands, because the constant, rapidly changing weather conditions are what bring such beautiful gradations in light and air. In the late afternoon, the rain stops and the cloud cover breaks open. A beautiful rainbow fans out like a peacock tail. Four seasons in one day: that's the Falklands in full force. Just a few meters from the lodge are some colonies of gentoo penguins. We recognise the animals by the white spot above the eyes and the orange beak. They are noisy and make a sound that is strongly reminiscent of a donkey. Even though the bird manure means there is a pungent smell around the group, these animals are a pleasure to observe. You have to laugh at the clumsy way they move ashore, as if their legs were tied together with laces and they could fall over at any moment. The chicks are always hungry. With the beak deep in the wide-open jaws of their young, the parents let half digested food slide down their throats. Strange, but very effective. And we're not the only ones watching the animals. There are also giant petrels watching from a distance, ready to strike. When one of them deliberately picks a chick from the colony and flies away with it, the whole group lets out a heartbreaking scream. But that's the way it is: nature gives and takes. Traces of the Falklands War in 1982 can still be found on Pebble. The Argentines stationed 300 soldiers and an important airbase there, as the English fleet was moored just off the coast. The remains of a torn down Argentine Lear Jet and a memorial to the sunken HMS Coventry are evidence of the fact that there was fierce fighting here.
The Falkland Islands have a bigger population of sheep and penguins than people.
A colony of gentoo penguins on Pebble Island.
SEA LION ISLAND: WHERE THE SEA LIONS GROWL We leave the northwest arm of the Falklands archipelago and fly diagonally to the south-eastern side this time. Each island has its own identity, and Sea Lion is no exception. Unlike the two previous islands we visited, Sea Lion is not a sheep farm, which means there is still an abundance of head-high farmer's grass. On the beaches, elephant seals are resting close together like oversized snails. The little ones aren't ready for their afternoon nap just yet and look at us curiously with their big, shiny eyes. Their mischievous heads and smooth bodies make them look like cuddly toys, although even this young lad easily weighs a hundred kilos. Occasionally, one of the parents will raise his or her head and open their mouth wide. Impressive, but that macho behaviour never lasts long. Lumpy and languid, they let themselves fall back down onto the loose sand, their pudgy rolls wobbling. Even more impressive are the sea lions. With their thick fur collars, these animals live up to the name. Their growling also sounds as deep as that of their African namesakes. Sea lions (also called mane seals) have spicy personalities and the males like to defend their harem with plenty of posturing. Especially in the reproductive period, the bulls are aggressive and regularly fight with each other for the highest possible position in the mating order. That's when things can get pretty rough.
The growling of the sea lions sounds as deep as that of their African namesakes.
An elephant seal is resting on the beach.
Like an immense army, thousands of imperial shags stand motionless at attention.
The rockhoppers are the punks of the penguin world, with their wild, yellow crests and piercing, red eyes.
The southern tip of the island it is a hive of activity. The mischievous rockhoppers come back ashore after a day of fishing at sea, skilfully use the rhythm of the surf to jump onto the cliff. If they catch the right wave, they can manage to reach a rocky ridge. If not, they slide back into the sea and make another attempt with the next wave. It's an entertaining spectacle and their daring and perseverance is admirable. Eventually, they all get ashore somehow and waddle back to their colony with full bellies. The tableau on display on the next cliff blows us away completely. There, like an immense army, are thousands of imperial shags, standing motionless at attention, all of them with their white chests turned towards the setting sun, like the Terracotta Soldiers of Xi'an. They are beautiful animals with black and white plumage, a bright blue ring around the eyes and a bright orange lump on their beaks. During the day, these graceful birds are all out at sea in search of food, but at night, they gather together in massive groups, here on the plateaus of the cliffs. It's a fascinating spectacle that we watch in silent awe.
BLEAKER ISLAND Uh, where are we going to land here? It's only a ten-minute flight from Sealion Island to Bleaker Island, but as we circle above the island, we don't see anything that can serve as a landing strip. By now we know that a landing strip on the islands is nothing more than a piece of grassland that often needs to have a few ducks or geese chased off, but here we don't see anything that can be used to land an airplane at all. Finally, the pilot lands on an ultra-short airstrip on a narrow promontory. He smiles, because he knows all too well that his passengers always have their hearts in their throats during this landing. On Bleaker Island, we stay in the cosy Cassard House, which has room to accommodate 8 people. From the large veranda, you can look straight out to a sea inlet where mallard ducks fly in and out in perfect formation. We're very happy to have a car we can use here. The last few days, we've walked so much that it'll be nice to explore this island by car for a change. And since there are no roads on the islands, you can only drive off-road, which guarantees a high fun factor. We follow the dramatic coastline with its pebble beaches, sheltered bays and idyllic sandy beaches. The decor is constantly changing, as is the colour and structure of the stiff grasses and prickly bushes that make up the low vegetation. For our 4x4, the rough surface is no problem at all.
At the northernmost point, we run into a large colony of rock shags. We hardly noticed them, they stick so close to the steep cliff wall on ledges that seem far too narrow to raise their young. The birds look at us in surprise, stunned that we've just shown up in their territory, but by no means impressed. Surely this is as wild as nature gets if even a nesting bird doesn't see humans as a disturbance.
Rock Shags stick close to the steep cliff wall.
Imperial shag with chicks.
ON FALKLANDERS AND MORE We've also gotten to know the Falkland Islanders a bit better by now. They have an enviable no-nonsense mentality, stripped of fuss and frills. What you see is what you get. And what you see are faces rosy from the fresh air, sturdy parka jackets and robust rubber boots that are easy to get on and off, because on the Falkland Islands there is one strict house rule: no shoes inside. Their 4x4s are practical tools: mud and dust on the inside, rust spots on the outside. They're fully of hospitality and all have an unwavering respect for the natural beauty of their islands. The majority of the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands (about 70%) are of British origin. Only those born on the islands can call themselves 'Falkland Islanders'. This applies to about half of the population. True Falkland Islanders are very proud of their origins and often mention which generation they belong to. Those who weren't born here are called a "Belongers", and that includes a lot of Scandinavians, as well as a reasonably sized group of Chileans.
For centuries, the islands have been a British overseas territory, and for almost as long they've been claimed by Argentina, too.
DISCOVERY, FIRST INHABITANTS AND FIRST DISPUTES The Frenchman Louis-Antoine de Bougainville was the first to set up a naval base, Port Louis, on East Falkland in 1764. He called the islands Les Iles Malouines, after the Breton port of Saint-Malo. A year later, John Byron established a small expedition post, Port Egmont, on West Falkland. It is from him that the islands got the name Falklands, a reference to his client, Viscount Anthony Falkland. Neither pioneer was aware of the other's presence in the archipelago. That all changed when the French sold Port Louis to the Spanish. They changed the French name to 'Islas Malvinas' and had a plan to conquer the entire archipelago, but much to their surprise, they met the British. They reached an amicable settlement and the sub-Antarctic cake was sliced neatly into two: East Falkand for the Spanish and West Falkland for the British. For a long time, things were quiet, until a new player came on the stage in 1816: Argentina. They had broken with Spain and believed the archipelago off their coast to be part of their territory. Much to the annoyance of the British, the Argentineans started building settlements there. The British intervened, making the entire archipelago an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The fact that Argentina had some difficulty taking that blow was proven by the further course of history.
THE FALKLANDS WAR: 74 TERRIFYING DAYS Because Las Malvinas son Argentinas is a dream the Argentineans can't let go of. In 1982, the junta of Leopoldo Galtieri cleverly used this nationalistic dream to invade the Falkland Islands. On 2 April, the first of a total of 11,000 Argentinean soldiers arrived in Port Stanley. Galtieri expected a quick victory, but what he didn’t count on was the Iron Lady. Margaret Thatcher sent a special task force to the Falklands on 5 April 1982. What followed was a short but intense war, which often devolved into man-to-man combat on unfamiliar and inhospitable terrain. The often very young Argentine conscripts, despite their significant advantage in terms of numbers, scarcely compared to well-trained, professional British soldiers. The war ended on June 14 in a bitter defeat for the Argentineans. At least 600 Argentineans (an official number has never been given) and 255 Brits lost their lives. In London, Thatcher revelled in the victory, in Argentina, the junta fell.
HOW MINEFIELDS BECOME PENGUIN RESERVES
One treacherous reminder of the Falklands War is still front and centre on the Falklands: the 120 minefields on the beaches, in the hills and along the main roads. To our amazement, they only started to clearing them a few years ago. "We had no problems with the mines," Sarah from the tourist office tells us. "Over the past thirty years, a whole generation has grown up with them. We know where the mines are and we know the danger of them. This is made clear to us by the military at a very early stage in school. But since the Geneva Conventions, we are required to
It is estimated that there are about 20,000 mines left on the Falklands.
remove the mines. It's a shame for the many bird species and penguins that live there in the meantime. An anti-personnel mine only explodes under a weight of 20 kilos. The animals weigh much less and have taken over the beaches. "That's why the minefields have become real nature preserves." Now, those nature reserves will be there for some time. It is estimated that there are about 20,000 mines left. Only 1,500 mines can be defused in the off-season. Zimbabwean experts - who have had experience in mine clearance in their own country - have been called in to take on the huge job.
STANLEY: LITTLE MORE THAN AN OVERGROWN VILLAGE In Stanley, it was very clear who won the war. The capital - and at the same time the only city on the Falkland Islands - is British as British can be. The houses, with their colourful roofs, painted the red and green of match heads, would fit perfectly on the coast of the South of England. In the pubs, cheerful barkeepers serve shepherds pie and fish and chips and the cars drive on the left side of the road. Even the typical red British telephone box has its place in the streetscape. You almost forget that you're about 13,000 kilometres from London. Stanley is undoubtedly the smallest capital in the world. There is only one petrol station, one bank branch and two supermarkets with a limited supply by Western standards. Everything depends on the cargo of the supply ships. The national newspaper 'The Penguin News' is published weekly every Friday. In such a small community, where almost everyone knows each other, maintaining good contacts is key. That's why the police force is made up of 'imported' British agents. It would lead to awkward situations if a Falklander had to write up a neighbour for bad driving or partying a bit too loud.
We're staying at the Pale Maiden, a gem of a B&B, named after the national flower. The delicate, white iris is scattered throughout the décor. At the Pale Maiden, by the way, it's all in the details. The B&B, with its four rooms, is much like the flower itself: small, but lovely. The whole house is tastefully and thoughtfully decorated. Teresa is a great hostess who will always have a special place in our hearts. Her five-star breakfast, is very extensive and thoughtfully prepared, down to the last detail.
THE FALKLANDS ARE RICH It is certainly not noticeable from the residents' lifestyles, but the Falklands aren't hurting for cash. Though that wasn't always the case. Before 1982, the islands were on the verge of bankruptcy. Their fate was linked to the price of wool, which was in free fall. It's not something you say aloud, but economically speaking, the Falklands War was a blessing. It provided the political impetus in London and the capital for much-needed investments. Today, the islands are turning a profit all on their own. The wool monoculture is complemented by lucrative squid fishing. The exclusive 150-mile zone around the islands provides the Falklands with a stable source of income. In addition, granting fishing licences to Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Spain, Italy and some Eastern European countries generates an annual revenue of around EUR 100 million. Slowly growing tourism also brings in money, even though there are only 2,000 visitors per year. Recently, however, expedition ships that travel to Antarctica have also started to stop off in Stanley or Saunders, and those day tourists also provide a little extra income. Last but not least: oil has been discovered here. Apparently, the islands hold an oil supply of a billion barrels, and drilling is likely to start in 2020.
KAPELSTRAAT 17 - 3500 HASSELT INFO: 011-22 32 50
‘SNAKE’ ARMBAND IN 18KT GOUD MET EMAIL EN DIAMANT - A ONE MET 12 DIAMANTEN
30 Volunteer Point on East-Falkland: the realm of the king penguins.
VOLUNTEER POINT: YOU WON'T BELIEVE YOUR EYES If you're in Stanley, be sure to make a stop at Volunteer Point, home to the largest colony of king penguins in the Falklands. The trip out takes two and a half hours. The first hour is on a paved road, but after that it's completely off-road. Luckily we have a very solid jeep and a skilled driver at the wheel. Once we arrive, we have the beach and more than 1,200 pairs of king penguins all to ourselves. It gives you goose bumps to step into their world. They are so beautiful: white breast, shiny steel-grey wings and a striking orange teardrop spot on the neck. They are, on average, around 1 meter tall, making them the second largest penguin species in the world. (Emperor penguins, found only in Antarctica, are just a few centimetres taller.) Because the king penguins don't have a simultaneous breeding period, we see in the colony both adults and younger birds brooding on nests, with newborn chicks and young birds whose downy brown fleece is moulting. King penguins have big egos and like to assert themselves. What's more interesting is their courtship behaviour, where they stretch their necks upwards and shout as loudly as they can. A group of a hundred penguins hurry to the water and stay close to the tide line. Are we going in or not? They postpone the cold splash for a while and give us the opportunity to stand amongst them. When they finally dive into the water, it's a spectacular sight. As a corps de ballet, they dive into a rolling wave, one by one, at breakneck speed. For a moment their heads stick out like periscopes and then they're gone, into the ocean where they feel so at home.
FIVE KINDS OF PENGUINS, FIVE PERSONALITIES Now that we've been on the islands for a while, we can clearly spot the personality differences between the penguins. We even start to describe them in human terms. The gentoo penguins are what you might call the good citizens: always in large groups, conforming to the others and always trying to improve their nest. The Magellanic penguins are more like the working class. They don't care about getting their paws dirty. When you breed in underground shafts, it's hard not to. They're shy and don't like to be in the spotlight. And even though they have a lovely blackand-white stripe across their chest, compared to the other penguins, they look a bit ordinary. You can't say that about the rockhoppers, the punks of the penguin world, with their wild, yellow crests and piercing, red eyes. Their bold leaps onto steep cliffs, their absolute indifference towards people and the fact that they prefer to hang out with albatrosses and cormorants than with their own peers makes these smallest penguins the most rebellious species. Macaroni penguins are, in our eyes, mature rockhoppers. They've still got that striking, yellow crest, but it's been nicely coiffed. There's a reason this species was named after London fashionistas from the 18th century. And the king penguins? They, of course, are the aristocracy, elevated above the rest, always impeccably dressed. With a little imagination, it's easy to see human society reflected in penguin behaviour.
THE SOUTHERNMOST PORSCHE IN THE WORLD
We never thought we'd find someone with a Porsche on the Falkland Islands. Until we came into contact with Stefan Heijtz, a Swede who fell head over heels for the islands and brought the first Porsche to the archipelago at the beginning of this year. This makes him the proud owner of the southernmost Porsche in the world! Stefan picks us up in his dark grey Cayenne for a daytrip to the most iconic places in Stanley. This is also the ideal way to photograph the Porsche in the most memorable places: on Thatcher Drive, next to the bust of the former British Prime Minister; in front of the rust-brown wreck of the Lady Elisabeth, an iron three-master that was blown into Stanley Harbour in 1936 by a storm and was given its final resting place there; on the picturesque wooden Boxer Bridge; and in front of the striking whalebone arch at Christ Church Cathedral. Stefan absolutely wants to test his Cayenne in the dunes. In our opinion, a bit too close to the many red signs that say 'Danger Mines', he shows us what the SUV was made for. And of course, Stanley Airport where the Argentines flew the white-blue flag during the 1982 invasion is a mandatory stop. One phone call to the airport manager and we're driving the Porsche on the tarmac. Falklanders are so easygoing. I love it, and Stefan clearly does, too. You can read on page xx that the man is not the first one to be the best.
An iconic picture: the Cayenne at the end of Tatcher Drive beside the bust of Margaret Thatcher, who lead Britain to victory in the 1982 conflict.
Stanley Airport is used for internal flights between the islands and flights between the Falklands and Antarctica. During the Falklands War, Argentine forces occupied the airport.
LOVING THE UNKNOWN We didn't know what to expect in the Falkland Islands, but now that we've discovered them, we'll keep them in our hearts forever. Because the islands do something to you. They leave an indelible impression. The vastness, the unspoilt landscapes, the delicate beauty of the animals ... They're images that burn into your retinas. We have learned that the islands can only be discovered slowly. They demand patience. They're like a thick onion with many, many rings. It took a few days before we could see nature with eyes that weren't used to just stone and concrete, but with a perspective that understood that what surrounded us was perfectly unique. However, this also led to the realisation that we have lost a great deal in our western, industrialised world. There should be more places like this. Areas where we don't bleed nature dry, but let it show off all of its beauty and diversity.
GENERAL INFORMATION FALKLAND ISLANDS Area: 12.173 sq km Population: 3.140 inhabitants Capital: Stanley Status: British Overseas Territory Official language: English Travel documents: international passport and visum required Many thanks to: Anna Connolly (Falklands Desk Stanley) • David en Suzan Pole-Evans (Saunders Island) Riki Evans (Pebble Island Lodge) • Mickey Reeves (Sea Lion Lodge) • David Bailey: our fantastic guide on Sea Lion Island • Phyl Rendell (Bleaker Island) • Teresa Smith (The Pale Maiden B&B, Stanley)
Stefan Heijtz: a man with a boundless passion
for stamps and Porsches.
Stefan Falkland Heijtz is an acclaimed professional philatelist with an impressive career and range of expertise. He sits on several prestigious committees including the Royal Philatelic Society in London, the British Philatelic Association, and The Philatelic Foundation in New York. His articles have been published in numerous magazines worldwide and he is a highly sought after speaker. The fact that he can also call himself owner of the southernmost Porsche in the world makes him extra interesting for Porschist.
38 How did a Swede end up in the Falklands? Through stamps. (laughs) My father was a passionate stamp collector and passed a passion for stamps on to me. I was only four years old when I started collecting on my own. Initially they were stamps from Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, like everyone else in my area, but that quickly got boring. I wanted something different and began to focus on the former British colonies: Canada, Australia, South Africa, Barbados, the Falkland Islands and so on. When I was thirteen, I was able to buy an important collection from the Falklands at an auction in Stockholm and that's what got the ball rolling. Of course I wanted to expand that collection and started regularly corresponding with the postmaster in Stanley.
"I always say I've never had a job in my life."
When did you first visit the Falklands? That was in 1989. I was 29 then. It was love at first sight. I stayed several weeks and hopped from island to island. I've been here more than twenty times in thirty years. Five years ago, I bought a house on WestFalkland, in Fox Bay. I spend several months a year here now. That house in Fox Bay isn't just a house. It is a house that suits me perfectly, because it is the former Fox Bay post office. It dates from 1918 and is already 100 years old. I have completely renovated the historic building while maintaining the original Falkland look. Part of the house has been converted into a postal museum. Princess Anne visited the museum in 2016 during her visit to the Falklands. That was quite an honour.
Meanwhile, you are known as the leading philatelic specialist when it comes to the Falklands. I have indeed come a long way. My book 'The Specialised Stamp Catalogue of the Falkland Islands and Dependencies' is internationally regarded as the best and most complete book on the postal history of the Falklands. It was first released in 1988 and is now ready for its sixth reprint. I've also put together many other important collections that have acquired a special status in the philatelic world. And you've also been a mailman in Antarctica? What was that like? That's a great story. I remember it like it was yesterday, when I was on the Falklands for the first time, asking myself on the plane home: Will I ever be able to return to those beautiful islands? Because of my passion for stamps - and especially for Falklands stamps - my visit had not gone unnoticed. Three years later, out of the blue, I received a very interesting proposal. Each year, someone from the Stanley post office has to move to Antarctica for a certain period of time to deal with the postal deliveries, new stamp issues, etc. But no one was jumping to claim that job. I was asked if I might be interested. Of course that was right up my alley. For two seasons (1991-92, 1992-93) I was appointed Postal Officer and Postmaster of the former Falkland Islands Dependencies (now British Antarctic Territory).
INTERVIEWPORSCHIST How long did you stay in Antarctica each time? Oh, it was a four or five month stay. Sometimes I stayed in the British Antarctic Territory Post Offices and took care of the daily operations, but most of the time I travelled with one of the two British expedition icebreakers, the RRS James Clark Ross or the RRS Bransfield, and visited the various scientific research stations both in Antarctica and South Georgia.
Did you have a job in Sweden during the other half of the year? I always say I've never had a job. (laughs heartily). If you can make a living with your passion, you'll never have to work. In 1980, my brother and I founded an auction house for stamp collections, Nova Stamps. I was able to perfectly match the auction schedule to my schedule, because I was always open to new challenges. In 2002, I was Swedish Deputy Postmaster on Snow Hill Island, Antarctica, when the first ever Swedish Post Office in the Antarctic was opened. The post office was only open for one day, but I had a great time there. In 1994, and again in 1998, I was a British Executive Service Overseas (BESO) advisor to the postal administrations and philatelic bureaux of Montserrat and Anguilla. These assignments occasioned visits to Barbados, Antigua, and St Martin as well as a number of other islands in the West Indies. I travelled quite a lot those days.
At the beginning of August 2018, the very first Porsche on the Falklands arrived! As such, Stefan Heijtz is the owner of the southernmost Porsche on earth! What makes stamps so interesting to you? It's a combination of many factors. Stamps are original and colourful mini-portraits of the world we live in. Each stamp is an ambassador for a country, an era, an event, a culture, you name it. They always tell a story and pique your curiosity. Once you have any interest in stamps, it's easy to get excited. How big is your collection after all these years? I can't put that into figures anymore. I have so many collections and they're all quite extensive. My collection from the Falklands, for example, includes many albums and each album contains many hundreds of stamps. By the way, I don't only collect postage stamps, but also postmarks and envelopes etc.. You might start with a postage stamp, but from there you can extend your interest to every facet of the postage business. That's what people call postal history. It's the next step after just stamp collecting.
Which stamp is the most special or most valuable stamp in your collection? All of the early envelopes from the 1800's are very special. The first stamps from the Falklands were issued in 1878, and there is only one envelope known with the very first stamp, a one penny stamp with the portrait of Queen Victoria, and that is the most special item in my collection. It's worth about £40,000. From stamps to Porsche: where did you get your passion for Porsches? I've always loved beautiful cars, especially sports cars and especially Porsches. The first Porsche I bought was a 924. It's an entry-level model for the beginner but it has excellent driving features. Then I bought a 928 S with that unparalleled V8 engine. Actually that was the first Porsche Gran Turismo, a sporty yet comfortable car. Purists say the only real Porsche is the 911, but I loved that 928. Right now I have two Porsches in Sweden, a Cayenne Turbo that is perfect for the harsh winters in Sweden with lots of ice and snow. The roads may be slippery, but with the Cayenne you won't notice a thing. It's really a workhorse. I also have a 996 convertible in Carrera 4-version with four-wheel drive – a manual drive, of course. I think that's an absolute requirement for a sports car.
What about your Porsche in the Falklands? As soon as I bought the house in Fox Bay, I played with the idea of bringing a Cayenne to the Falklands. People said I was crazy. In the Falkands, they don't talk about cars, they talk about 'vehicles'. That shows you how little importance a Falklander attaches to the look of their transportation. But turning the dream into a reality was not easy. It was a long search for the right second-hand car. It's absurd to buy a brand new car to use in the Falklands, where you're constantly driving off-road. But because you are going to be using the car in difficult conditions, there are certain things you have to have. The Cayenne had to have air suspension and an interlocking system for the tires. The steering wheel also had to be on the right-hand side. I finally found the perfect Cayenne in England. It boarded a boat in Southampton in June 2018 and arrived in Stanley at the beginning of August. The very first Porsche on the Falklands had arrived! How high is the import tax? There isn't one. That applies to all products imported into the Falklands. All you pay is the freight charge. There's no fuel tax, either. Fuel costs only half of what it does in Sweden. Is it true that there's only one gas station on all of the Falklands? Yeah, just in Stanley. In Fox Bay there is a kind of petrol facility. Not a gas station with controls, but just a few pumps. If you live in Fox Bay, you get an individual key and you can use it as needed. The invoice is sent at the end of the month. It's a simple system but it works well. For people who don't live near Stanley or Fox Bay, it's not easy to get fuel. On the main islands, East and West Falkland, the delivery can still be done by truck, but all of the other islands have to rely on delivery by ship. There's a small supply ship that sails to all of the islands. But hey, this is the Falklands. Just driving to the gas station isn't part of the deal, but in exchange, you get completely unspoiled nature.
How are the roads on the Falklands? (Smiles warmly). Well, you've seen them. There aren't many of them. Thirty years ago, there were no roads at all. It was only after the Falklands War, when a new military airport was built in Mount Pleasant at about 60 km from Stanley, that a road was built connecting the airport to Stanley. For a long time, it was the only asphalt-paved road in the Falklands, with the exception of a few streets in the centre of Stanley. This was not only due to the special status of the Falklands as a large nature reserve, but also to the fact that it is very difficult to build roads here. The ground is primarily peat, which is a very soft material. Whatever you put onto it will sink. In recent years, however, a new technique has been developed using a kind of plastic carpet that gets rolled out first. Gravel can then be pounded on top of that. That method is currently being used to pave roads in both East and West Falkand. When you talk about the Falklands, you practically glow. Have you ever considered becoming a citizen? I'd love to, but it's not that straightforward. To make my affinity with the Falklands clear, I had my middle name changed from Erik to Falkland. So my name is Stefan Falkland Heijtz. This place has won my heart. Then where do you see your future? In the Falklands or in Sweden? Both. The combination is ideal. Both countries have enormous natural beauty and the seasons are each other's opposites. When it's winter in Sweden, it's summer in the Falklands and vice versa. I always have the best of both worlds. I'm really spoiled. Stefan, you are indeed a lucky man. Enjoy it, and congratulations on owning the southernmost Porsche on earth!