Isla De Pascua / Easter Island

Trip Start Jul 15, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2007

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Flag of Chile  ,
Sunday, October 21, 2007

So this entry is pretty later. But the poetry essay i am "writing" right now is even later, so i guess i will try and prioritize better next time...

On October 14th,  after a sleepless night trying to finish my assigned essay (late) I climbed onto a bus to Santiago with 5 kids from my program with all of our backpacks and a really heavy cooler. Yes, a cooler. Apparently, Easter Island is way the heck out there in the middle of nowhere, literally the most remote inhabited island in the world and the tax everything. The only item we found to be more moderately priced was Pisco- Chile's famous hard alcohol. We made our flight from Santiago with time to spare and sat through 4 hours of babies crying, harry potter and the half blood prince- which the turned off becuase their timing was poor, and an unobstructed view of the ocean on all sides. Landing was terrifying, i thought we were doing a nose dive straight into the Pacific. But luckily, as you have guessed already- we didn't ! and we didnt crash on the way back either! Hooray!

We stepped off of the plane into a beautiful warm spring day, with the breeze whipping our hair into our eyes and the airport crowd pushing our shoulders, everyone super anxious to get out and GO. Most people only go to the island for a few days but we had a whole week in front of us. The hostel we stayed at, called Mihinoa, picked us up late from the airport, shoving all of our luggage and the luggage of about 4 other tourists and a few of the tourists in the back of a pickup truck. We spent the rest of the afternoon setting up the tents and exploring the north eastern side of the island by foot but had to cut the self guided tour short becuase it became too windy and rainy. This weather stayed with us for the rest of the week and we had to move from our tents to inside the hostel by the second day because the wind broke one tent and the rain flooded the other.

On Monday, we did not let the wind hold us back. We hiked up a 300 meter volcanic crater called Rano Kau whose youngest rocks are around 200,000 years old. Mike, Hallie, Jen and I decided to go exploring the inside of the crater but greatly underestimated its size and marshyness and ended up basically falling into it, grabbing tree roots and rocks to slow our fall. It was worth it though. Next we hiked back out of the volcano to an ancient village on the northwest side that used to be the site of a triathlon where the strongest islander in each tribe would have to climb down the side of the cliff into the ocean, swim to an island, wait for a mythical bird to hatch an egg and return to the top of the cliff to give the egg to his tribe leader. Through my best understanding, this competition was the closest thing to politics these rugged islanders had. The winner not only earned for his tribe the right to rule the island for a year but also his choice of a bride among beautiful island women.

Tuesday was rainy and cold and we were unmotivated to go beyond the little town called Hanga Roa but Wednesday was one of the most challenging days of my life. We rented moutain bikes in town and the renters recommended a 50k loop for us to do on the south coast of the island. It started off all peachy and bubbly until sitting on the bike seat slowly turned into a form of torture that i would not wish upon anyone. About half of the trail was paved, but the other half was bumpy, rocky, humpy and i had to hold on to my handle bars until my knuckles turned white and my hand muscles becamed bruised. But i did kind of fall in love with mountain biking and now i want one :) (hint) we stopped at Playa Ana Kena, a beach and although no one else was really swimming, i dived in with some of the girls. The sand was sooo soft and i couldnt complain about the temperature, being from Massachusetts and all. That was a nice break from biking although we all knew what still lay ahead of us: an 18 km trek back to town with 4 enormous hills to start it out. Except for Mike and Hallie, the rest of us walked our bikes up for the first 3 but for the last one i got this burst of adrenaline and decided to bike (painfully slowly and in first gear ) up to the top of the hill and boy, i sure felt like i accomplished something by the time i collapsed at the top and my calves were shaking...

The rest of the trip couldnt compare in terms of physical exertion to monday and wednesday but we did receive a guided tour of the route we biked and rent a car one day to explore some caves on the North coast. We also went to a show where we saw some of the most beautiful men and women dance to bongo drums and flute. On saturday night, we went out to dinner and then i ended up going to a club with some of the other people in our hostel including a red headed danish girl who pretended to be my older sister for the night in order to "protect" me from the Rapa Nui men. Then instead of walking home with me, she found an islander walking by the club when i was ready to leave and asked him to accompany me instead. I never once felt unsafe though- the only instance of crime on the island anyone had even mentioned was the high prices of fruits and veggies. So we walked back to mihinoa and he tried to teach my some words in their language, i don't really remember any though...

Sunday was a day of travelling, super hard after a night of 3 hours of sleep and a VERY hard morning... But all in all it was an amazing experience and i feel soo blessed to be able to have gone.
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