29/3/13 From Montevideo, Urugay to Santiago, Chile
So we landed at Santiago and took the airport bus into the city, from the stop the bus finished at we then took two tube trains to get to the Belles Artes area which we were staying in for the night. When we got to the apartment complex the security guards on the gate who didn’t speak any English made us register then eventually handed us an envelope in which was a note and a tiny saying they had moved us to a different hotel. We were not impressed and the security guards looked bemused as we picked up our bags and left.
The Carlton Hotel they moved us too was a couple of streets away and had definitely seen better days, the room was ok but really noisy, no balcony and no fridge and no price refund!!
We just dropped the bags and headed out to look around the local area. There was a Good Friday procession going on outside a nearby church and most of the shops and buisnesses were closed. We ended up having tea in the World’s Worst KFC which in addition to almost inedible food proceeded
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One of the swimming pools
to stack chairs and close up around us and the other poor souls stupid enough to be eating there.
After ‘tea’ we walked down to the main square where there were large crowds watching performers in front of the big cathedral. We went inside and there was a service going on so after a quick look we left. The park in this area was filled with people and there were lots of artists doing portraits. There was a really nice atmosphere and we noticed how much cleaner than Montevideo Santiago seems.
We wandered back to the hotel past the porn shop and the girlie/lap dancing club and stocked up on snacks and goodies for Easter Island at the nearby supermarket.
30/3/13 Santiago to Easter Island
Up at 6.30am and took a taxi (yes you heard right…a taxi) to the airport. Judging by the number of people sleeping on the seats I guess a lot opted to spend the night there rather than pay for a hotel. Just by the security gate we looked over the balcony to see a massive tower of what was presumably lost luggage – luckily we didn’t spot any rucksacks.
flight to Easter Island took five hours and I watched another amazing film – The Life of Pi, however there was only one small meal and drinks round which seemed a bit tight.
Once we landed the excitement really kicked in and we noticed immediately how hot and humid it was. There were lots of people meeting the plane, lots of people advertising their hotels and guesthouses and lots of people wearing leis. We bought our National Park tickets here as we had read it was $10 each cheaper than at the park.
As instructed we got a taxi to our hotel, it was a only a few minutes ride but we were charged the equivalent of £7, by the look on the hotel owners face who refunded us we were clearly ripped off! And so we met the lovely Raoul in his sarong, with a flower behind his ear and he presented us both with pretty leis made of bright yellow flowers from his garden.
The room was basic but nice, very clean but there was only a small table fan (we knew they didn’t have air con) and it was soooooo hot! The rooms are
set in a lovely garden with a patio area that you can sit out on – well after you nick the table and chairs from outside the neighbouring room anyway.
Rrrrrrraoullll spoke good English but as Howard couldn’t understand his accent I was once again the interpreter. He gave us lots of advice about the cheapest supermarket (next door) and the best place for car/motorbike hire and then offered to open the restaurant and cook for us. I had read he was a Chef, but as prices weren’t mentioned and we knew everything was supposed to be very expensive we kind of mumbled non-commitally.
So we set off to have a look around ‘town’, straight away we were making comparisons with Samoa and Tonga – the style of housing is very similar, the tropical feel, the large numbers of dogs and the general air of the place. A lot of the shops and buildings were shut – I guess because of Easter. There were quite a few small supermarkets with a better range of items than in Samoa and Tonga but everything was pricey!
We walked along the sea front and within our first hour on the
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Ahu Hotake - he wasnt touching it
island came across several large Moai (stone heads) which was exciting! The sea front was lovely and in a couple of places there are large man made rock pools for swimming in which was great as the coastline is really volcanic and rocky. Down by the small harbour I had my first, made from scratch and freshly baked shrimp and cheese empanada and it was delicious!
We watched the sunset by the Moai and the surfers waiting for waves.
Nightime = cockroaches, arrrrrrggggghhhh! They were scuttling about the paths on the way to the room which led to lots of dancing about by me. Once safely in the room I opened a bag and one came out of it and ran down my leg NOOOOOOOOO! Needless to say Howard had to check everything and I refused to get off the bed!
31/3/13 Easter Sunday on Easter Island!
Our suspicions that we must be the only guests in the hotel were confirmed when we went for breakfast and only one table was set. The church service was playing on the radio and Raoul came in fanning himself complaining about the heat. We asked him about the motorbike
we had understood he had to hire but it turns out something was lost in translation and he only has pushbikes. So down the road we went and hired a scooter for the day, mentioning Raoul’s name got us a small discount which was good. We were given a map and the roads which were considered unsuitable for scooters as they are gravel or dirt were pointed out.
After 5 minutes attempting to get the seat open to store the bag we set off to drive the East Coast road up to Anakena beach in the North. There were lots of very weathered and toppled Moai all along the coast road. The Moai were toppled during rival groups fighting and mainly once the religion changed to the Birdman cult.
We stopped at several points including Vaihu, Hanga Te’a and at Akahanga which was a large early settlement and where there were remains of houses and a lot of toppled Moai. We turned off the main road to go inland to the Rano Raraku National Park – which was the quarry where the heads were carved. It was a fabulous place, with great views, lots of stone heads everywhere
and a walk around the whole site, in addition to one of the world's most expensive toilets and at $1 a go Howard wasnt impressed when i needed it ha ha. In the other direction was a walk up to the volcano crater with its lake, a closed section with more heads and what looked like an archaeological dig (possibly the one where they found bodies under the ground?). There were wild horses grazing around the lake side and it was just beautiful.
Scootering on we visited Tongariki where there is a platform with 13 upright heads which was very impressive. There was also a local bare chested man with a headdress performing what looked like some sort of ceremony.
The road cuts across headland with its towering cliffs and the area of the Puakatiki volcano, there is no access to this area as the land is ‘recuperating’. There were more wild horses, more weathered heads, toppled heads and platforms and the road degenerated into a dirt track full of potholes for about 4 very slow, bumpy miles!
Then we joined back with the main road and arrived at Anakena – where there is a glorious sandy
beach, lots of palm trees with beware of falling limbs and coconut warning signs and a fantastic platform with 6 large stone heads wearing their stone hats, wonderful!!
The Moai all face inwards looking over what would have been their ancestral village, with the bright blue sea behind them. There was a very large park ranger guarding this platform and she used her whistle to tell off anyone who misbehaved at the site.
We returned to town (Hanga Roa) by the main road which runs down the middle of the island and once again watched the sunset over the sea. There was a fantastic girl surfer who showed all the blokes how to do it in style and earned lots of applause from the onlookers. A couple of dogs were playing around like naughty children and get themselves soaked in the waves. Magical.
Tea was yet another empanada. We booked the scooter out for another two days. When we got back to the hotel I commented to Raoul that his English was really good, he gave a girly giggle and said ‘no, no it isn’t, where are you from?’ when I said England he said ‘oh no,
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Rano Raraku - the quarry
I thought you were from Australia’…… Crikey!!
What a fantastic day!
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