Growing old on Rapa Nui
Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
162Trip End Dec 18, 2011
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We went outside and met Paul, the hotel owner, who took us to our accommodation. Paul is an American man in his 60’s (I think!) who first came to the island when he was 16 as a volunteer on the first real archaeological expedition here. He returned years later, married one of the Rapa Nui locals and has been living here ever since. A really nice man and he was a great help to us during our time on the island. Liz had done really well and got us a bungalow all of our own for the 6 nights we were on the island as a present for me. We had our own kitchen, living room and even a deck area! That night we bought some pasta and sauce in the shop and cooked ourselves dinner.
On our first morning we didn’t wake up till about midday! I’m blaming the 'jet-lag’. We were surprised to find a plate of food outside the front door as Liz had done a deal with Paul to get the price down that he would only bring breakfast on the 3 days around my birthday. We were tucking in to our ‘lunch’ when he dropped by and explained that he had thought we looked a bit tired yesterday and didn’t think we’d make it to the shops so gave us some food. Very nice of him
The next day Paul drove us to Anakena on the north side of the island so we could walk from there around the coast back to town. Before he left he gave us a mini tour around the site and started explaining some stuff about the moai (the big heads-which also have bodies attached to them). The walk around the coast was great. The ground was pretty tricky as much of it is covered in ankle breaking football sized volcanic rocks hidden in the grass. The coast rises and falls from sea level to high cliffs providing dramatic views of crashing waves and endless seas. The area is also littered with unrestored ahu (the ‘altars’ the moai stand on) and fallen and broken moai. We only met one person on our 6 hour walk, a local Rapa Nui on horseback and we had a little chat with him in Rapa Spanglish. Towards the end of the walk as you get close to town there a couple of caves to visit and one, ‘the cave of 2 windows’, is a pretty tight squeeze in and dark crawl to the a room with two openings to the sea with really cool views
Friday was tour day. Liz had arranged with Paul to take us on a day tour around the island to see all the major spots. Particularly Ranu Raraku, the volcanic crater where they carved all the moai, was very impressive. Some of the statues were huge! Apparently different tribes tried to out-do each other by making ever bigger Moai to protect their villages. How they would have moved some of the left over ones in this quarry is beyond me….maybe that’s why they gave it up! At about 5 o’clock Liz reminded me that it was midnight at home and therefore my birthday. It made me happy that I was still in my 20’s when I would otherwise have been 30 had I been at home! It’s the little victories.
Happy Birthday to me! Woke up this morning, 30. Why God, why?! Stress over we headed over the Paul’s hotel to use his internet to Skype my parents. Liz had planned for us to the climb to the highest point on the island but unfortunately the weather wasn’t playing ball. There’s not a huge amount to do on Easter Island when it’s raining so Paul suggested we take a board game, so I’m ashamed to say we spent the lunchtime of my 30th birthday paying scrabble
As you do with a hangover the day after your birthday on a Sunday….we headed to mass. I hadn’t undergone a complete personality transplant on turning 30, but it is recommended as a highlight of the island as the service is in Rapa Nui. Supposebly. As we have found out since, we weren’t the only people who dragged ourselves there at 9am only to discover it's actually in Spanish, but at least the songs were in Rapa Nui. Everyone singing along aswell. Only the Irish don’t sing at mass it seems. After we got home, washed and got over our hangovers (well more or less) we headed out to walk up the highest point (Mt Terevaka) that we had missed out on the day before. Because Paul was out on a day tour we had to get a local taxi to drop us off at the start point, a 5 minute drive up the main road. Well, there were some communication errors and when we started driving inland and the wrong way we tried to explain again, he said yes, but then when we ended up at the end point and he started heading up the hill in the car we realised why he had quoted us so much for the trip
On the way to the airport on the last day we got Paul to stop at the post so we could get some Easter Island stamps in our passports. Worth the 50p each they were. At the airport Paul gave us some cool leaving presents of a shell necklace for Liz and a necklace with a shell and feather for me. We had a great time on the island and would recommend a trip there to anyone who’s passing by!! We'd also highly recommend Paul for both accommodation and tours. His website is tekarera.com