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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island on the Western World, is the most exotic destination of our trip. It's a small volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific, halfway between Chile and Tahiti. It is administered by Chile but it has a special administrative autonomy.

The trip to Rapa Nui was not as nice as it could have been... There was this jerk sitting behind me making noises and stupid comments permanently all night. And this time I was so tired that I actually fell asleep 20 min after I started watching a movie. We later found out that he is kind of the King of the Rapa Nui people... If I had a king like that I would be ashamed!

What did I know about Easter Island, before I arrived. Well, its people almost exterminated themselves, by over exploring the island resources. They built and moved huge statues accross the island. There were hardly any trees in the island. All this was true. Just a few more things missing, that were aprehended during our stay.

We arrived under heavy rain and heavy wind. We asked arround in airport some prices of places to stay, and decided to stay in the one that offered us the best deal. Residencial Miro, administered by good mooded Sandra. It was a great choice because of the company we found there. Jan, from Belgium, who had been living and working in New Zealand for the last 5 years and is now on his way back home, with a great sense of humour and fantastic unimaginable stories about his life as a travel guide (unfortunately I am not allowed to tell them here because he is writing a book about those stories; when it comes out I´ll announce it here). Stepan, from Czech Republic was the other inhabitant of the hostel, is also on around the world trip and just had to spend his time listening to us loughing and talking, but I think he enjoyed. :)

The first day in Easter Island was a real emotion. Heavy rain and wind (which made me get soaked from the waist down) and a quest to get some Pesos... Only the Maestro/Mastercard network work in Easter Island and I have 2 visas and one Mastercard that I don´t know the pin... In the end after visiting the two ATMs and the bank we asked for a cash advance at the money exchange office in the village and got charged 15% commission for that... After the money quest I just had to sleep for a couple of hours.

Rapa Nui

It's definitely a special place and I feel i'm really lucky for having been given the chance to come here. Not many people will come to visit and try to understand the misteries that surround this culture.

We were also fortunate for having found great company at our hostel. The stay in Easter Island without John and Stepan wouldn't have been the same. It's amazing how in such a small place, with so little to do, I never felt bored! John is an amazing story teller. I'm really looking forward for his book to be published. I doubt you've told us any of the stories you're gonna publish and if those were that unusual, astonishing and funny, the ones in the book will most likely be that and much more. Unfortunately I can't tell any of those stories here otherwise he might sue me :)

Well, what did we do in Easter Island? Of course we had to watch the statues. They're spread out all over the island. They were all thrown down and vandalised by the Rapa Nui people, in what is believed to be a consequence of the several conflicts between the different tribes. The ones that are found standing were recovered by archeological works done in the last century. It is really impressive to walk around the vulcano where the statues were carved out of the stone, wandering around the statues that were never moved to other parts of the island, trying to imagine how it would have been to transport these huge structures intact sometimes several km through irregular ground. In order to visit all the statues in one day we rented a 4WD jeep and I was designated as the driver, my first time behind a jeep's wheel. Besides visiting the statues, we also went down to the beach, where Stepan and Tiago decided to try the water. This is an amazing place. At the entrance there's a huge group of statues. There's also a cave some meters up on the cliffs which is possible to visit. The day ended with us trying to find a boat for John to go fishing (that's his hobby) but unfortunately it seems like Easter Island is no longer a fishing paradise. According to a local fisherman, the water is too warm for the big fish. Consequences of the global warming? Maybe, who knows. Later in the day me and Tiago moved to the other side of the village, to where Sandra lives (an overbooking problem apparently). The place was much better than the other one, but we were too far from our new friends and got a bit annoyed with that. We met later in the night to have dinner at the restaurant that overlooks the harbour and planned on meeting the next day for lunch at the same place.

On my last day in Rapa Nui I had planned to do a long hike up the biggest volcano on the island. First I stopped at the local artcrafts market to buy some souvenirs. Then I just followed the coast north. Since I left home until the end of the day I was never alone. There was a dog that adopted me as his owner for the day and followed me everywhere (they were two at times). A couple of km after I started I saw these amazing cliffs going into the ocean and just went down and sat there writing for a long time. My faithful friends kept an eye on me all the time and were extremely happy when I came back on the track. It was almost lunch time by then and so I decided to meet the others.
After lunch, a coastal walk followed, with a stop at an artificial lake that is in contact with the ocean for me to bathe in Easter Island, and after that we headed on to the museum. It's a really simple museum, but I end up learning a few things about the island's history. The most important of all was that the statues represent their ancesters. Since this was our last day at the island, we decided to meet later in the afternoon. We had a few beers overlooking the ocean and an astonishing sunset and then we continued at the hostel until midnight. We say goodbye to John. It was great meeting him. And Stepan is taking the same flight as we are, so we won't say goodbye before Santiago.

Going back to Easter Island...only if I have the opportunity, never on purpose. I only missed the southern tip of the island, that has a really beautiful volcano with a lake in a steep crater and some petroglyphs in the village where it is said that the bird-man used to live. And compared to continental Chile, Easter Island is extremely expensive.


Joao said...

espetaculares as fotos da ilha da páscoa.
continuação de boa viagem.

Viagens Lacoste said...

Continuação de boa viagem!

Rui said...

Rapazes, muito bem. Dá gosto ver iniciativas como estas que por vezes dão côr e perspectiva a muitas vidas por aí perdidas. Mas palavras para quê, se Mark Twain já disse tudo! Abraço grande desde Barcelona,

Fê Costta said...

Wow, till here you came dude?! Yeah, you have been travel around the whole world... lucky guy! :)

Wonderful the statues, ham? This is a old dream... one day will be true!

See ya!