Jul 5 11

Easy Life on Easter Island

by Emily Benjamin

I never thought we’d get there. Easter Island, about 4000 km from the coast of Chile, and more than that from the next bit of land in the Pacific Ocean. The only airport I’ve been to that sees only one flight a day – so no excuses for flight delays, woohoo! But Easter Island was on ‘The List’ and it was my special treat to my special Monkey for his 30th birthday. That’s right, world – Jamie Talbot is 30! So we set off from freezing Santiago on Saturday morning, and arrived on Rapa Nui by midday. Our lovely host Marcelo would be our go-to guy for the next 48 hours – he owns the Kaimana Inn and Restaurant, where we slept on the comfiest bed I can remember and ate a delicious lunch and dinner. Once we were fed and ready, it was off to explore the first corner of the island, with Marcelo at the wheel.
We first had a tour of the only town on the island, Hanga Roa. He tells us 95% of the island community live here, which is a few thousand people. A few more are scattered over the island as farmers. But on a clear day, you can see from end to end. The island is in a triangle, totalling about 160 square kilometres, with a volcano on each corner – the highest being just over 500 metres. Our first stop was Rana Kao, on the southern end of the island. A giant crater, now filled with water and reeds, right on the edge of the coastline. From there we walked around the crater to the other side, and checked out the islands where tribes used to host the bird man competition each year. They would camp out on the hill waiting for the call of the bird, then climb down a cliff, swim out the island, search for the birds egg, swim back, climb back up and be awarded the Island King for the next year. Oh, that’s if they survived the freezing waters, didn’t lose or break the egg on the way, or even found the egg in the first place. Not a very simple treasure hunt it seems! But it came with the privilege of naming the next king, and you’d have a pretty sweet life for a year if you’d got him there.
Just before sunset, Marcelo dropped us off at our first Moai’s, about 10 minute walk from where we were staying. We sat there for about an hour, watching the sun go down and taking heaps of photos. You know the sort…
6:15pm – Wow isn’t it amazing! Look at the colours!
6:21pm – Ohhhhh! It’s so shiny!
6:23pm – Look now! It’s so much shinier!

6:32pm – WOW! That’s the best shot yet!
6:45pm – Shoot. Ran out of space on my memory card. Yeah, ok, I think we have enough sunset shots now.
Good news is that we took enough photos to tide us over, with no need to go out the next night. Phew! That night we went to a traditional Polynesian show, with about 12 local dancers. It was energetic and entertaining, and as it’s only on a few times a week I’m glad we got to see it! But by the end it was 11:30pm and we’d been awake for 21 hours, and I was knackered.
No rest for the wicked though – we were up at 6:30am for sunrise. It was cool again (not as cold as Santiago though!) but warmed up quickly – mostly because we began jumping over moai’s in the sunlight. I know it seems lame. But at least we’re not planking, right? Anyway, for the whole day we explored the rest of the island, including some of the more famous Moai on the north east of the coast. Here we saw a few hundred Moai all in one spot, including some unfinished ones. The site, at the base of a volcano, is known as the Moai birthplace, where local tribesman would carve the moai from volcanic stone. Eight to twelve months later, when finished, they would slide it down the mountain carefully, ready to be transported to it’s chosen location. No one knows how, though – maybe over palm trees, maybe by water. But there were many than never made it, now left here at the base of the volcano.
By afternoon we were exhausted again, and took refuge in our room to clear our memory cards and get some editing down. Which is why I am able to bring you these photos within 24 hours of returning to Santiago – and with over 600 photos to edit, that is no mean feat! Here, though, I’ve got a collection of photos of Monkey and I, exploring the island. We had an absolute blast, and although we spent almost $1000 in two days, NOT including flights, and blew our budget, I’m very glad I got to see it. There is already one $1000-a-night hotel on the island, and in years to come, there will probably be many more. So see it while you can! Enjoy – Em 🙂
PS. If jumping photos of Monkey and I isn’t your thing, go and have a look at the rest of the photos of Easter Island, and let me know if it’s on your list now, too 🙂

Filed Under → Words
Jul 5 11

Easter Island

by Emily Benjamin

What a piece of paradise. Easter Island, or Isla de Pascua, or Rapa Nui as it is known locally, is so far out in the Pacific Ocean, that it was no surprise to me when Google Maps struggled to find it. But LAN Airlines know exactly where it is, flying there only once a day from Santiago. We arrived at noon on Saturday, and spent the next 48 hours exploring the island with our guide Marcelo, owner of Kaimana Inn and Restaurant. For the first afternoon, and all of the next day, we saw most of the 168 square kilometres of the island, including sunrise, sunset and a traditional polynesian show. Oh, and a few volcanoes, but fortunately not the famous, currently erupting one! I won’t admit how many photos I took, but this is my biggest set yet. And if you’ve taken the time to view this post, I encourage you to go the distance until the very end!

Filed Under → Travel