After nearly 16 hours of travel we arrived in Easter Island on Wednesday morning. This place has always had a mystical allure for both Kevin and I, and neither one of us ever thought we’d actually get to visit.
The moai are just as amazing as we imagined them to be. We saw our first ahu (or group of standing moai) near the main town of Hanga Roa on the first day (after cleaning up some early mishaps, detailed later). They are truly massive, and one definitely appreciates the effort it took to carve and transport these megaliths.
Our second day, we hiked up to the Rano Kau crater and the Orongo petroglyphs and ruins. On the third day we got up before sunrise and took went up to Ahu Tongariki to take photos at sunrise of the 15 moai lined up along the rugged coast. We then went to the quarry at Rano Raraku to see hundreds of the massive statues in various stages of completion. We ended the day at the beautiful Anakena Beach. We’ve met some great fellow travelers that have come along for the ride.
Other thoughts and experiences:
- We love LAN Airlines! Kevin and I were able to watch movies and even play Battleship (against each other!) on the flight. It made the long flight much more bearable, even though Kevin was a bit scrunched into the seats at his size. The meals were pretty good, too.
- The island is very quaint and surprisingly undeveloped coastline. There are no chain hotels, nor chain stores of any kind. Because of LAN’s recent expansion of flights to the island from Lima, I would guess that development in some parts of this island is inevitable, so if you want to see its original charm, come sooner rather than later.
- Easter Island is set in a crazy time zone, the same as Chicago, but many, many miles West! The sun doesn’t rise until almost 8:30AM and doesn’t set until 8:30pm
- Food is very expensive here. We’ve eatien lots of empanadas from roadside stands and picking up bread and fruit at local markets. Tonight is our last night on the island so we’ll probably splurge on a seafood dinner for Kevin. As a vegetarian, I’ll take what I can get, but I’ll hope to have some more camotes (a fried, purple skinned sweet potato)
Unnecessary screwups and timewasters:
- The island has about 4 ATM’s total, 2 take Mastercard and 2 take Visa. This, plus the initial language difficulty–Cassie couldn’t translate all of the options on the ATM and when the withdrawal wouldn’t work, we thought our cards were not accepted. We spent our first few hours on the island very worried about cash problems. We’re lucky we had the spare US cash I almost forgot to bring (thanks to Hoan and Cesar for hassling me about this!)
- Unsure of the water situation, we initially went to some great efforts (and expense at $4 USD per liter!) to buy bottled water and even use a fellow traveler’s steri-pen (thanks, Ryan!) in order to make sure we were hydrated. Later, we researched it only to find out the water in Hanga Roa is perfectly safe.
- Last, we forgot to research whether we’d need a power adapter for South America. We did, then went to great lengths to borrow one from another traveler. (Thanks again, Ryan!) We found out later that our campsite (Camping Mihinoa) provides power strips that contain adapters for multiple formats. We will eventually have to find an adapter, we’ll probably work on that in Santiago.
But we’ll write more when we have a chance later. Here are just a few of our favorite photos so far:
William Adams says
Great silhouette. Will one of those stone heads fit in your luggage???
Well, at about 40 tons each, they exceed the airline’s 40kg limit per bag. 🙂
Lee Periolat says
What’s the current theory on how they got the heads there?
I’ll write more details about this later, but the long story short is they can only guess. From the looks of things, the moai may have been created to honor the dead, and each ahu (stand of moai) protected a village on the island. Then, there’s the quarry at Rano Raruku where they were created, and you can see several standing moai along with others in various stages of construction. That was fascinating. Later in the island’s history, there seems to have been friction between the various cultures, resulting in the destruction of many moai and villages. In order to resolve the conflict, they created the Birdman cult, which was a competition between the strongest from each village, the winner of which would become king. The petroglyphs (pictured above) at Orongo were part of that festival. Again, I promise more details on this later. It’s actually a bit difficult to put together because they seem to enjoy the mystery that surrounds the moai. It’s draws people to the island.
Molly Rhodes says
WOW. Just, WOW. And Thanks!!!
Cesar Serrano says
Yea yea the Birdman Cult! Thanks Cassie for taking a picture of the Birdman rocks! Judging from the distance I think I could have won the competition, Ha! Hey do they have some kind of festival where they have tourist attempt the Birdman competition? If not, they really should.
Thanks for updating us guys. Can’t wait for the next article.
P.S. I am very dissapointed that Cassie was unable to translate the ATM options (I guess that Spanish learing program from the UK???didn’t have a chapter on ATMs). See, you should have taken me on my offer to teach you guys some spanish.
No comments from La Jolla in a while…what gives?