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Published: July 17th 2010
For many years I have wanted to visit the Easter Island, and this was the only real requirement for me of this trip to South America. Therefore when we were in Santiago in January we looked into the trip and booked our tickets, we were lucky enough to get a really good deal.
We arrived in Santiago for the trip on 3rd April, expecting our flight to go on the 5th, however, when we tried to confirm our tickets we found the flight had been cancelled so we called the Lan offices, luckily for us, as they had put us on a flight on the Tuesday meaning we would have a day less. After talking to the office they said we could fly a day early, on the Sunday, so we grabbed the chance to have an extra day at no extra cost, not to mention that i was really thrilled to be arriving on Easter Island on Easter Sunday, how cool was that!.
We left our hostel at 5.45 am to take the 6am bus to the airport, arriving in good time for the flight at 7.30am, everything went really smoothly and we found ourselves on the flight
in no time and with no fuss. The flight was good, really comfortable, the food was not bad, the airline staff really friendly and the in flight entertainment great, I caught up on a few films that I have heard about but never seen and the five hour flight passed really quickly.
Flying into the island I had this thrill of excitement, looking out of the window the island seemed to be so small, but very green and the seas were an incredible blue. The airport is tiny and we were soon out in baggage collection and being met by hostel owners touting for business, we found a hostel that sounded OK to us, Residencial Tahai, not on the main road, more in a quiet area, the place had a lovely garden, nice veranda to sit on and the family was friendly.
I cannot describe the feelings I had just being on the island, it was exciting and quite emotional, especially as I saw my first Moai up close. After leaving our things in our room we went out for a walk to explore around the area of Tahai, coming across the Moai with the eyes at Ahu
Tahai and a few remnants of the typical old houses from the Rapa Nui era. The sun was out, the skies celestial and the sea deep blue, watching the waves crashing over the rocks was as exciting as watching the Moais. We sat down on the grass by the Moai admiring its firm look to the horizon pinching ourselves - is this real?...
Having looked at the weather forecast we decided to hire a scooter on our first full day on the island to explore the southern coast as it was going to be a fine day.......ha ha. We had a lovely bright red scooter and took off along the coast heading towards the Quarry Rano Raraku, where the Moai statues were carved. After the first few kilometers the tarmac road gives way to a bumpy muddy road, but the way was fabulous, we kept having to stop for all the different Moais we were passing by and just to take in the views. Many of the Moais were toppled, some by a platform and some dipped in the grass, an evident to their displacement resulted either by a tsunami wave after the 1960 earth quake and/or by the
war between the clans who lived here some 250 years ago. It filled me with a sense of sadness to see the toppled Moais face down and sometimes broken, these beautiful beautiful carvings should be standing proud in my mind. The surprise for me on the island was the impact the sight of the sea had on me (Liz), I love the sea and watching water, but these seas left me speechless and I could just waste hours watching them, the colours, the sheer power of the waves breaking on the rocks, the spray and the bubbling foam, I was transfixed. During the morning we seemed to be able to keep just a few minutes ahead of the impending downpour that was following us, but as we arrived at the quarry site the heavens opened and we had to shelter for half an hour for it to clear a bit. We then set out to explore, starting by going up to the volcano to have a look, it was water filled and very tranquil with a few Moais dotted on the edges. These Moais had different design to their face suggesting they were done at a different era by a
different clan. We then walked back towards the quarry site, oh words fail me to see these incredible carvings up so close, and so many of them in different states and condition, we were mesmerised and as the rain began to pour down again we hardly noticed as we were so engrossed in our surroundings, we must have wandered around for a few hours, just soaking up the experience before we headed back to our scooter and the ride home in the pouring rain, we were wet anyway so we were not that worried, we arrived back at our hostel totally water logged, I can't remember ever being so wet, but with great grins on our faces, what a great day.
The next day started with a pouring rain and thick grey skies this set a change to our schedule so we went to the museum. Sod's law is that when you are indoors rain stops and so it was, not long after we entered the building the sun came out and the day turned to be as lovely as we would desire. The museum has an interesting comprehensive display of historical information as well as of archaeological findings.
Ram spent hours reading the guidebook that accompanied the exhibition panels. Among the exhibits some theories regarding the walk of the moais - how were they moved to the platforms. A slow half of a day we were in the museum, at least Ram enjoyed it, then we went down to the coast and walked up north. Walking along the coast brought us again to encounter the might of the sea. It was a slow relaxing walk we were absorbed by information and imagination of times gone by when humans gave their lifetime to carve out of a rock an enormous sculpture and move it a few kilometers away to its place. And that was the reason and that was what mattered. Then we saw a little sign next to what looked like a hole in the ground. A few steps in the stone led down to an apature that was just about big enough to let Ram in - it was the Dos Ventanas cave. We didn't know that because we didn't take with us the map or the book and the name on the sign was in Rapa Nui. Bowing low Ram sneaked in and braved darkness with
his ever recharging dynamo Eco torch. Five meters ahead the ceiling got higher so one could stand, then there is a diversion point as one can see the light at the end of the tunnel comes from two sources about 10m away. The tunnels lead to an opening just on the front face of the rock about 15 meters above the sea surface. Out of the cave we resumed our walk passing some more caves that used to be houses for the Rapa Nui people. The knowledge we had now after being at the museum consolidated neatly with the sites we encountered on this walk. We felt that our experience meeting the remains of an unknown culture had been enriched and came together to an understanding greater than we had before. We didn't realise that our slow walk took us to the road to Ahu Akivi so we turned back in the direction of Tahai to take some photos of sunset, we almost needed to take a number and queue for a photo, if you want to know how many tourists are on the island come before sunset to Ahu Tahai...
The Orongo was next on our itinerary. We
walked there passing through the port where all supplies arrive. It is a small bay so a ship cannot dock there, the supplies, including the odd car being delivered on demand, transferred by a smaller boat. Once again it was nice walking, although we didn't see amazing archaeology on the way we got a glance of a simple working day on the island through the people at the port and at a building site nearby. The Orongo for me was not too exciting, even though its dramatic location, the birdman petroglyph and the remains of the houses there, what did excite me (Ram) was to discover another Israeli here - they just get everywhere. Before another day passed we went to rent a car, based on the lesson we had the other day we knew that if we want a fine day we should have a car or stay indoors. We took the car before sunset for 24 hours so we can drive early morning to see the sunrise at Ahu Tongariki, famous for its fifteen erected Moais, we invited Sigal, the Israeli we met at the Orongo to come with us. We left early, arrived in the site in
Pattern on the rock
Near the cave of the birdman petroglyph
pitch black, then as the first spells of light broke darkness we could see faint, featureless rocks standing, then slowly their face features became apparent and then faded again to be only silhouettes in front of a red ball of fire rising up from the sea. The drama of sunrise, the Moais reborn again, the new day that comes out of the ball of fire, how can I express my feelings? I thought about the first man that saw sunrise.
The magic of sunrise was over, only our memories replayed it. We went on to Ovahe, a tiny secluded sandy beach, to eat breakfast. After that we continued to Playa Anakena, a larger sandy beach with palms and an Ahu. It was almost empty when we arrived, it is so beautiful and so unspoiled. It is clean, the colour of the water, the colour of the sand, the sky above and the Ahu standing nearby bathing in the sun. Once again it was a place to be, to soak up, to cherish that a place like this exists on earth and we were there grateful that it is not polluted by people. We were simply happy. One more peak
for this visit.
It goes on like that and we feel that we repeat ourselves. Our emotions, our excitements, intrigued with every new place we visited. For us Easter Island is one of the highlights of the trip in South America. Although it is expensive, so we bought food at the supermarket (pity we didn't bring it from mainland). For Liz it was a reason to join me on this trip, for me it was a major destination that I have been dreaming about for many years. We read that the island can be travelled in 3-4 days, we heard people who got bored after the second sculpture. I returned to Ahu Tongariki, Ahu Anakena and to Ahu Akivi to draw them. For us a week was not enough - it is not the site seeing but the sight feeling that moves us.
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