The most remote island on Earth...SMASH!!!

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Flag of Chile  ,
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Our LAN flight took about 5hours and apart from eating our in-flight meal we slept all the way. We arrived to a very dark Easter Island at 6.30am (we later found out that sunrise is about 8.30am and sunset is 10pm at this time of year – Andrew commented that even Rorie and Emer could make a sunrise here – hehe) and were greeted by the owner of our campsite, who promptly placed a tropical flower garland around our necks – how lovely and what a great welcome (Andrew Edit - Indeed it was a great welcome and about the only good thing we felt after 1 hour sleep the night before then about 3 hours last night, we are completely shattered arriving this morning).  There were another eight people staying at the campsite so we all jumped in to the minibus (our bags went on the back of a truck) and made the ten minute trip to the campsite.  It was still dark so we couldn't see the ocean but we could certainly hear it.  We were hiring a tent so Andrew and the owner put it up together – I was glad to get out of it as it isn’t one of my favourite jobs – and then we were able to dump our bags and have a look around Hang Roa (the only village on the island -  which has a population of about 4,000 people).  

Finally the sun came up (wow even the sun is laid back here) at about 8.30am and the Pacific Ocean was about 10m from our tent – we could look out over the sea knowing that there was nothing for more than 2000 Kilometres.  Bliss.  We walked in to town to get some money and have an explore and to see what the options regarding transport to get us around the island for the next five days were.  On the road to the bank we stumbled across (not literally of course that would result in a jail sentence) our first moai Ahu Tautira (the huge monoliths that Easter Island is famous for).  We were very excited as we had seen so many photographs but to have the real thing staring down at you as you stood in its’ shadow was incredible.  We enquired at a few bike rental places and discovered that after a bit of bartering that we could hire a quad bike for the same price as the standard hire of a couple of bicycles.  Decision made, we signed up after Andrew showed his credentials (his International Driving License of course – I’m not sure the Wicked Campers naked free day offer would work here) and we drove back to the campsite to get a bag together for our day of sightseeing.

Our first stop was Rano Kau Crater and Orongo ceremonial village in the far south of the island.  The roads were very dusty on the way and being on the back of the quad we could tell that we were going to need a long shower come the end of the day.  Rano Kau is an extinct volcano which has a huge lake which is an important habitat for endangered plants and one of the highlights of the island.  What makes this place so impressive is the huge hole in the side of the crater that reveals a stunning view of the Pacific contrasting against the fresh water crater lake.  At Orongo village we had to pay the national park fee which gets you in two the two main sites on the island – here and Rano Raraku the moai quarry.  Andrew was going to try the old I’m a Chilean national trick but the ranger was so entertaining that we didn’t even bother and just paid up.  He asked where we were from to which he replied that he had only been to two places in the UK – Wales and Liverpool.  Obviously we asked him why these two random places and his camp response was The Beatles and Tom Jones – "I just love them" he trilled.  Classic. 

The village was the site of the famous 'Birdman Cult’ and consists of 53 restored stone houses with tiny crawl through doors that cling on to the side of the cliffs.  The Birdman Cult was a religion that flourished in the 18/19th centuries and an important part of it was a competition each year to crown the ‘Birdman’.  This competition involved competitors sending ‘a representative’ to leave the island and swim through shark infested waters trying to stab any other contestants at the same time to the tiny islets just off the mainland.  Their goal was to find the first Manutara (a bird) egg of the season.  The winner would then live for the whole year in seclusion with a priest whilst his family would enjoy an elevated social status in his absence.  Quite what they did with the egg or what they did for a whole year with priest is anyone’s guess.  I can think of better prizes.

We made our way back to the town and then visited the moai that stand on its’ periphery.  Some of the monoliths have been restored whilst others lie in differing states of repair having fallen foul of tsunami’s and civil war.  They really are awe inspiring and you begin to wonder about the culture that created them, why they were made, how they transported them (some were up to 10m tall and 12 tonnes) and why were so many left, completed in the quarry.  We saw the only intact moai, Ahu Ko Te Riku who has coral eyes and a red topknot – understandably the most photographed moai on the island.  It was now 6pm so we got back to town and bought a few things for dinner – no surprises – pasta, onion, garlic, pasta sauce, choritzo and red wine. 

Andrew cooked while I washed up and wrote some of the blog.  We were still filthy from the day on the quad – the roads here are so dusty (Well the dirt tracks for the most part today so I dont think they fit in the 'dusty road' catagory) that it was ingrained in our skin by the time we got back to the campsite.  I had to wash my face at least three times and even then the towel was filthy when I dried my face.  After dinner I was knackered and as soon as we went back to the tent I fell asleep – it was about 7.30pm.  I remember waking up a few times and apparently there was a bit of a party going on which involved several booze runs as the party went on.  In true Erica style though I managed to sleep through the whole thing and woke up 12 hours later to the sound of the waves crashing against rocks not 10m from our tent.

Andrew Edit - It had been a great day and a great introduction to Easter Island, our Polynesian stop, the sunset was just as amazing as the sunrise however Erica, was fast asleep!!
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