Saturday, March 20, 2010

Isla de Pascua/Easter Island/Rapa Nui

Well, I made it to Easter Island, can’t say I thought I’d ever say that. Boy, it was worth it, even though I had the runs from some crappy food in Santiago a few days earlier.

Thanks to my friend Nati in Santiago (err. Santiago y Judy en Mexico para introduciendo nosotros!), her friend Coca hooked me up with a house in the center center of the town (Hanga Roa) on Easter Island for a cheaper price than the hostel I had previously reserved! Literally, it was 2 floors, all to myself, for $25/night within a block of everything. I got to share it with a few lizards, some cockroaches, and spiders, but hey, it’s Easter Island, who cares.

My abode on the Island:

Road to my house:

Easter Island is Polynesian just like Hawaii, so you really get a similar feeling. It doesn’t have the great beaches, but it has amazing cliffs, greenery everywhere, and of course, the infamous Maoi statues. Still, they have good surfing like Hawaii, and it really popular. They also have large ‘pools’ which are essentially rock enclosed areas for swimming. The water, for being the end of summer, was quite nice.

So the airport is awesome, it is like a strip of concrete, literally. They let you right off the plane. It’s the most remote airport in the world (hey, the sign said so).

So the Rapa Nui (people of easter island), are all fairly trilingual. They grow up speaking Rapa Nui and Spanish, but most learn at least some or a lot of English because of all the tourists. Impressive. Though product of societies circumstance in some ways.

The island is bigger than you might think. There are a few volcanoes, the highest being 510 meters (multiply that by 3 for feet your metric challenged people). It’s high enough and there are cliffs so the tsunamis are really a huuuge deal….at least that’s what they told me. On top of one of the tsunamis there is desolate stone village called Orongo, overlooking the ocean. They used to elect their chief each year by having all the men swim out to this rock about a ¼ mile out, and returning with a bird, haha!

So, basically, I lazed around on a beautiful tropical island literally in the middle of nowhere, walked around a bunch, saw some amazing sunsets….and that’s about it. Lovely.

I did have a few funny things happen...On the way back from catching a sunset with the Maoi one day, I took the shortcut to the house through the trees, and bumped into a building with a Rotary sign, and they were just about to have a meeting. How cool. Anyways, I chatted it up for about half an hour with two guys from the club, to one in English, to the other in Spanish, and learned about their club. They started a dental clinic for the Island recently, which was a big problem. Each year they sponsor students from the Island to study abroad, and also students to come to the Island to study. They meet in the islands former penitentiary. It was the smallest place, I can’t imagine more than 6 inmates could have lived there. But with a population of 4,000 people or less on the island, why not just make them walk the plank? It’s an island for god’s sake, theyr’e not going anywhere soon!

Shortly thereafter, as the sun was almost set, I bumped into the mom that owns the house. I told her I had been sick and didn’t get to do much. Not to worry! She hopped me in her rust bucket camioneta truck, and we raced up the nearest volcano to catch the sunset, check out the old village, and walk at the top of the volcano! We hauled ass on the most pot hole strewn 100% dirt road, past lazing cows and racing dogs, and I had a new hairstyle by the time we reached the top. Nonetheless, being at the edge of a volcano just after sunset was simply amazing. I couldn’t see everything clearly, but that was part of the uniqueness. It was just a vast emptiness until you reach the other side rise as it rises to the rim.

My fav photo, a guy coming in at sunset from surfing, rinsins his hair out:

A Maoi at sunset:

Horses, horses, more horses:

Stumbled into the Easter Island Rotary club (the former island penitentiary is in the back left):

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