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Orongo - Motu Aui Islet
1/4/13 Riding a scooter on the unscooterable roads!
We rode out to the Orongo crater this morning, it was one of the roads classed as gravel and so not suitable for scooters but they hadn’t met Howard yet! The road actually wasn’t too bad as long as it wasn’t wet and you are careful. The first section was hard packed dirt ridges with potholes and the last section gravel.
Up at the crater rim was Orongo, the ceremonial Birdman village, we handed over our passes and were signed in. There were lots of stone houses, which were low, with tiny doorways (protection from the elements) which people had to crawl in through and they all faced out to the ocean and the islet of Moto Nui off the coast. The terraces outside the houses were used for ceremonies and the whole site was only used for a few weeks each year at the beginning of spring.
In the 16th century worship moved from the Moai (ancestral worship) to the cult of the Make-Make god, which related to fertility and migratory sea birds (the Birdman cult).
An annual ceremony was held where the Chiefs or their representatives from
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Orongo - cermonial village houses
the different tribes competed to obtain the first egg of the Sooty Tern. Participants in the competition went down the cliff and swam to the islet of Motu Nui, where they stayed for weeks waiting for the seabirds to arrive and until an egg was found. The person who got back to the Orongo village first with an egg was made Tangata – Manu or Birdman. He was considered tapu (sacred) and he lived in ceremonial seclusion for a year. The last competition was about 1867.
The village was built on the headland between the top of the cliffs and the crater, there were lots of petroglyphs found here. The views were amazing! The crater lake was eerily beautiful, with lots of moss on the water making strange shapes and patterns.
After bumping back down again we carried on to visit the cave Ana Kai Tangata where there were petroglyphs painted on the roof. What a setting, what a dramatic coastline and we climbed down the rock cut steps to the cave where the waves pounded and crashed on the rocks, it was almost unreal to be standing in a small cave with such vast waves breaking so
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Orongo - petroglyph
close to you.
We seemed to spend the whole of this day dodging a small tour group who were either at the sites just before us or arrived just after! They were led by a guide who was bare chested, wearing a really elaborate headdress and carrying a carved wooden staff. At each site they were at stalls popped up out of nowhere selling souvenirs and then vanished as soon as the group did. We did get to one site, which took some finding that the group didn’t – Vinapu, where there were very weathered heads but around the back of the platform was the most fantastic birdman petroglyph. There was only us and one family there.
We then visited Ahu Akiri with its line of 7 heads believed to be the original explorers who found Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and for a few minutes we had the whole site to ourselves, then the tour group arrived and a stall popped up!
Carrying on from Ahu Akiri and heading for the coast was a road that was definitely not for scooters! When I say road, I mean a rutted dirt track, there was a huge puddle cutting
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Orongo - Birdman petroglyph
off the track and we had to through the bushes at the side by pass it! We arrived at another cave Ana Te Pahu which was a lava tube and obviously went on for miles. We met a young Spanish couple who had also come on a scooter and we all went through the cave together as we had a torch and they didn’t.
We carried on to Ahu Tepu with the road getting worse, I had to get off for sections of it so Howard could get the bike up the steep bits, how he did it when it was just ridges, rubble and scree I don’t know.
Going back down along the cliff tops there was not a soul around, only birds, wild horses and crashing waves. The track was so bad I was beginning to wonder if we had gone wrong and that this couldn’t be the right way when suddenly a small jeep appeared from nowhere which was a bit reassuring. However the looks on their faces when they saw us on our scooter – priceless!
So we carried on rattling, jolting and bumping with the whole place to ourselves once more, then
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Orongo - Rano Kau Crater Lake
we arrived at Hangai Kio’e so we knew we were nearing town. There was just one very large head and one very weathered lump. Then we were down at Tahai the big ceremonial area on the edge of town, with its platform and line of heads, houses, cave, big grassy areas for ceremonies and a cobbled ramp (for launching canoes) down to the sea.
Trying to find the track that would take us back onto the main road we ended up in someone’s garden! Eventually though we did find it and got back. And so we rode the whole of the un-rideable road, that only 4x4’s are supposed to take! I don’t know if I feel totally exhilarated by this adventure or if I want to bloody kill Howard for being so irresponsible, once the aches and pains have worn off I think the exhilaration will win though! It’s also made me view scooters in a whole new light and I am very proud of our trusty little blue scooter, it’s certainly got some guts!
By now I reckon we must have been on every road on the island and seen every stone head and I am totally
Back at the ranch it was yet another shrimp and cheese empanada for tea, this one was so fresh and fishy I think all the flies in the neighbourhood turned up to try and get a taste! Then the heavens opened and it poured down, so we had to give our sunset ritual a miss, which was just as well as I don’t think my legs could carry me down tonight.
2/4/13 Our last full day on the island
So you’d think after yesterday we would take it easy wouldn’t you? Ha ha. Off to the museum, where a horde of Danish tourists had just arrived. I had a good laugh when the girl on the desk asked Howard if he was a senior or ordinary for the ticket!! The museum was great, packed full of really interesting information on the history of the island, how it was inhabited, the culture, religions, traditions and the historical visitors to it, including Our Jimmy! We really should have visited it first as it gave such a good overview, so we went back to the ceremonial village to view it again with our extra knowledge of the site.
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Ana Kai Tangata - just look at those waves!
Next we visited the Artesans Market to do a bit of shopping, then lunch by a rock pool, then scootering off again to visit the Puna Pau where the red stone hats were carved and we were the only people there. Then it was back to the other end of the island to the lovely Anakena beach for a swim in the sea, it was delicious! The water wasn’t too cold and the waves were lovely, just big enough for sport without drowning! It was pretty cloudy so it was great to sit on the beach without roasting alive (as there isn’t any shade).
Back towards town we took another route and came in by the coast road from the other end and found the real working port/harbour and yet another Moai on a large platform with a ceremonial area and round house – which we now know was used by the Chief and priests. So just when you think you’ve seen all the heads…….!
We went down to watch our final Easter Island sunset and surfing, we attempted to go and see the film Rapa Nui which was advertised as being shown in one of the hotels
but the place was all deserted. In the end we had a very late but very nice set meal at a tiny restaurant tucked away up an alley. The fish soup was made from scratch and was really yummy. A great way to finish a great final full day.
Did the final night cockroach dance and dived into the room and off to bed.
3/4/13 Sadly it’s farewell to Easter Island and back to Santiago
Well I think we have put Raoul’s nose out of joint by not asking him to cook as he has been a bit sniffy with us today and yesterday. He has now got 2 more guests and I notice they have had dinner made by him so I would have thought that would have cheered him up but no, he didn’t even complain about the heat to me this morning, so somethings up!
We have had an on-going dilemma about the time of the flight today, our tickets say 4.30 but every day the flight has gone at 2.30. When we first arrived Raoul said he would get us a taxi for 12.30 for when we leave and when we said
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Ahu Tahira - toppled Moai
our flight time he seemed very puzzled by it, so I have been slightly uneasy about it all, especially as I read LAN are notorious for changing flight times. Today when we asked him again about it he just shrugged and said you will have to check (sniffy see?).
Anyway Howard is sure it must be 4.30 so we went for a wander in town and visited the library which was run by a lovely lady called Fatima who showed us the books and told us about what they offer, it turns out they have free internet!! Just like back home!! So we registered and when she saw we were staying at the Hotel Orongo she was delighted as it is run by her family. So we checked the flight times and it’s still saying 4.30 so that’s that.
We had a final sit by the sea, a final empanada and as we walked back to the hotel we were stopped by a couple with a big TV camera and microphone and interviewed for Rapa Nui TV!!. We got back to the hotel and collected our rucksacks. Our taxi arrived and there was no sign of Raoul, which
was a bit sad, his sister came to say goodbye and wished us luck and in we got. Just as we were about to pull away Raoul rushed out and said goodbye and told us he had paid for the taxi. So maybe we were forgiven after all… I’m so glad we left on a happy note.
So to sum up our time on Easter Island…..
FANTASTIC, I LOVE EASTER ISLAND! It is a fascinating place, there are heads everywhere! The island is beautiful, wild and unspoilt the people lovely and friendly, the wild horses are magnificent, the history and culture is intriguing and if you are thinking of going just do it, you will not regret it!
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