Day 7

Trip Start Feb 02, 2013
Trip End Feb 26, 2013

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Friday, February 8, 2013

WOW! Today was so great. Dad and I woke up late because our alarm did not go off. We had to combat the challenges of our bathroom and being late - it was actually hilarious and filled with a lot of "don't looks". 

We had a brief breakfast at the hotel before we disembarked for our morning tour of the Easter Island Moai. Just in case you didn't know, Moai are monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people from volcanic rock on the island of Easter Island between the years of 1200 and 1500. The Moai weigh between 10 - 90 tons, depending on the statue. 

We started by going to Ahu Tahai which is the Ceremonial Complex that was restored in the 1970's. It is similar to a town and you can see the boat-shaped houses that they slept in. You would have had to crawl into them because they are so small but were only used for group sleeping. The closer the houses were to the Moai, the more prominent you were in their culture. 

After Ahu Tahai we travelled to Rano Raraku, the Quarry where all the Moai on the Island were created from. This is a different type of volcanic rock than the other volcanos that comprise the island. It is more porous, and therefore, the rock is easier to carve. We hiked up the Quarry and back down. There were wild horses running around everywhere. Apparently there are only 5,000 people on Easter Island and over 7,000 wild horses. 

After Rano Raraku we headed to Ahu Tongariki, the site of the restoration of 15 Moai. It is an incredible site and the story behind the restoration is extremely fascinating. Its Moai were toppled during the island's civil wars and then in the twentieth century by a tsunami. It has since been restored and now has 15 Moai, including an 86 ton Moai that was the heaviest Moai ever erected. The restoration was comprised of a multidisciplinary team led by Claudio Cristino and Patricia Vargas, who also happened to be our tour guides! This project lasted five years and is now the most notorious site of Moai on the island. 

After our tour of the Moai we headed back for a lunch and rest, in order to get ready for the evening festivities

Tonight on Easter Island we had a cocktail reception, several guest lectures, and experienced a group of traditional Polynesian performers called the Kari Kari Rapa Nui.  It was fun to get a little more dressed up for a change. During the evening I was able to hang out with the pilots and flight crew of the plane, many of whom are close to my age. It was quite fun and I really enjoyed the entire evening. During the dance performance we were all drinking in the back of the room and I was pulled on stage to dance! Not my forte, but I survived a couple minutes of it in front of the group.  I'm also working on convincing the pilots to let me fly the plane… so far I’ve only been promised a photograph in the pilots seat… I think that will have to do.

After the performance we had dinner as a group and then headed into town. For two weeks out of the year on Easter Island, they hold a special festival in the town. We happened to be there during this festival, so after dinner we went to go watch some of the performers. It was very enlightening to see some of their cultural dances, songs and traditional dress. Overall, it was a great evening. 
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