Good morning from Easter Island!
Before we eat anything, let’s take a look at the kitchen. Here is the display of all the fresh juices and fruits available at breakfast.
There are many seats to choose from. We will have our dinners and lunches here also.
Steve appears to look a little worried. I would be also if I was married to myself!
Ah, nothing to worry about, his beautiful omelette has arrived!
The red marker shows you where our hotel is located. Orongo is the crater and the little island south west of it is Moto Nui, where part of the Bird Man ceremony occurred. Ahu Tahai is the restored ceremonial site. The quarry or Rano Raraku is located in the eastern part of the island. Near there is Ahu Tongariki, where the 15 Moai are located.
Here is a topographic map. The green areas are all National Parks.
I have left off at the three stages of of cultural development of Easter Island. Most scientists think that the first peoples arrived in the eastern Polynesian triangle from some point west of here around 800-1100. The eastern Polynesian triangle consists of Easter Island, Hawaii and New Zealand. The first people to settle Polynesia left 3000 years ago from Taiwan, then spread to the Philippines, then Micronesia then East to Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti and other islands. Oral history tell us that a group of seven explorers were the first to arrive to Rapa Nui.
The men saw the land was a good place to live and returned with women. Great stone Moai were carved which transferred mana, the spiritual power of their ancestors. Below the Moai, the bones of revered ancestors were buried. Moai were erected facing the town, and eyes were installed last, to guide and protect the people. Only when the eyes were inserted could the Moai’s mana protect the people.
Later when the European sailors arrived they spread disease. The first European on Easter Island landed on Easter Sunday in 1722, hence the name Easter Island. Europeans all wanted to see the Moai. Then slavers from Peru carried off a large portion of the population. The Rapa Nui people felt that they were no longer being protected by the ancestors. So the Moai were destroyed.
Our first stop of the day was the Hana Roa lookout. We had a great view of town and the freighters carrying cargo that were out at sea.
Our next stop was Orongo, the ceremonial village for the Bird Man challenges.
A yearly bird migration flew to a small rocky island off the south eastern tip of Rapa Nui. During the 16th and 17th centuries the carving of the Moai was abandoned and the Bird-man competition began. Thus began the second stage of development on the Island.
A competition was held to be the first man to return with an egg from the island. The very first competition elected the king, we have heard from our different guides that there was a new king every year or that the subsequent completions were for pride. Notice on the head of the warrior an egg holder. These guys look like our modern day hipsters with man buns.
Here is a picture of the island, Moto Nui, that the participants from all over the island would swim to. It was believed that the ancestors chose who would win the contest by giving that warrior extra strength and the Manutara (Sooty Tern) would lay an egg nearest the divine choice. The participants would stay for days or weeks waiting for the first egg. The last competition was in 1867.
Here is Lilli, our guide for the morning. She was the female winner of the Koro Nui Tupena festival in 2012. This sporting and cultural event was introduced to establish a bond between the young and the ancestral traditions, It gives tourists a chance to witness what Rapa Nui rituals and competitions were like before the colonization period. We will have to comeback another year for that! We saw many young people out running in preparation for the coming festival in February.
We walked to the ceremonial village. There was a gigantic Moai here that was removed and presented to Queen Victoria and is in the British Museum.
This house is opened to show tourists what the homes looked like inside. Very dark and confined inside, but the people only slept in their houses.
Over time the petroglyphs in the homes have been damaged or removed.
Most of the stones for the walls were very thin. They were from a special kind of basalt. Other stones used in different buildings or platforms for the Moai statues are different types of rock.
This was a short walk morning.
A closeup of the islet. This is where we would have done native style rock fishing if the wind had allowed.
The island has a wet and dry season. we are at the tail end of the wet season. it rained every day, but not at every place we were on the island.
At last we arrive at the crater. The crater was 600 feet deep filled with water 30 feet deep. With a mat of reeds floating on it. In some places it was said that the mat was so thick cattle could stand on it without sinking.
It was a long way down. The crater was 1.6 Km wide.
There was an option of hiking up to the crater. Only 5.4 miles one way with an ascent of 896 feet. We opted for the van ride!
Here is Lilli, Beauty was not the only reason she won the contest in 2012. She said that she is a great dancer also.
On the road to the crater was this house with signs on it. I asked Lilli about it.
In previous years the Chilean government collected all the visitor fees. This made the Rapa Nui people very unhappy and they barricaded all the parks. This naturally was very bad for tourism.
Those hotels who had guides from Rapa Nui could enter the parks. The strike was settled and all monies collected to visit the parks now do not go to Chile, but to the Rapa Nui people. I’m sure Chile taxes the airlines and collects its money one way or another.
All our guides were of Rapa Nui ancestry.
On the way back to the hotel we see the business of the richest man on the island. He has a business of renting cars, ATV’s, motorcycles and other types of bikes!
We pass by a farmer who is selling pineapples off the back of his truck. There are no stop lights or street signs on the island. It makes it difficult for those visiting the island to know where to go or where they are!
Here we see a freighter parked at sea. There is no large wharf so smaller ships must bring back the cargo to town. It can take many days to unload a ship. Those black dots are people surfing!
There was a bit of a traffic jam in town. Streets were very narrow, and the drivers were crazy. I observed much sign language among drivers!
Here are the boats the fishermen would go out to sea and fish from. We were hoping to do some ancestral fishing but the wind was too strong. After seeing them I was happy that we couldn’t go. That would be very dangerous with any type of chop in the water. The fishing was with hooks, line and rocks. Bait was pieces of chicken. This is the same method as the drop-shot that Steve has such good luck in Lake George. However Steve uses artificial bait.
Lots of different businesses in town, these guys offered tours. There is no standard for being a guide, so if you didn’t stay at a reputable place you might end up with a guide spouting nonsense, All the guides from Explora had several months training and supervision. All our groups were to have a maximum of eight travelers. Steve and I were often the only ones on our outings.
Here is the Catholic Church. Priests who arrived from Europe were able to convert most of the people to Catholicism. Offering schools, hospitals and food, they filled the needs of the people. The population had decreased to around 110 people! Now there are about 7000 people of whom 3000 are Rapa Nui.
This is someone’s Christmas tree!
More free range or town horses.
The countryside is so green. They even grew big puddles with all the rain!
Here is one of the many cows that we saw on our travels on the island. Many were still nursing their newborn calves and often many of the teats would be engorged with milk. It looked painful.
In the afternoon we are heading in this direction to see the 15 (15 Moai on a platform) and then walk along the cliffs to a beach. I hope it stops raining by then and our walk is a stroll and not a hike!
But first, we see some kind of pit and a fire back at Explora. We heard that there was to be a special dinner tonight…
Carrot soup for lunch. Black and white sesame seeds as a garnish.
I had the lamb chops.
Steve had fish.
Who can resist chocolate guava cake? I couldn’t.
Steve’s and my leis were looking uglier and uglier as the days progressed. I threw them out after I took this picture.
In the van with us this afternoon are two new incoming guests. They are S and G from British Columbia. I take an immediate dislike to them as they look like real hikers. They have serious hiking boots on, we have just sneakers with us as we have a weight limit on our trip to the Galapagos. Yes, we could have worn hiking boots, but then where would the other shoes go?
We jump in the van and head off to see Tongariki, the collection of 15 Moai.
We pass by the house of Mr. Richest Man on the island. You will remember that I had mentioned earlier in this post that he has the largest rental car dealership on the island; 100 vehicles!
We saw lot of horses that were laying on the ground. We were told that since the horses were free to roam all over the island they frequently ate plants that would make them sick, and then die.
Our trip often took us along the coast where we had great views.
On our way we pass the quarry, Rano Raraku. I hope you remember that there were over 450 Moai in different conditions here. No where near that number were in good shape. Some were probably used for practice or experimentation.
This is a popular place!
Why don’t my pictures look like the professionals’ ?
Anu Tonariki is the platform with 15 intact moai. Behind the platform is what is called a crematorium. It is the resting place for the bones of revered ancestors. A group of German archeologists paid to have the moai erected. In 1960 a tsunami knocked the Moai 100 meters inland! They were re-erected on the platform, which the tsunami did not move.
Remember all of the erect Moai are a reconstruction. Only those at the quarry remained erect, as they held no mana in them and therefore hold no power or value.
Here is Natalie, our guide. She is telling Steve the stories. In front of us is a Moai. You can see the serious hiking boots of our fellow guest. This Moai is quite eroded.
It is all so dramatic!
The 15 are all different.
Only one had the Pukao or top knot. It was formed from a different stone than the rest of the Moai, and represented long hair dyed red and styled into a big bun. Only men with powerful mana were allowed to wear their hair this way.
The archeologists can generally tell which Moai are older by the characteristics of the Moai. The early Moai were all different. They later became more stylized with the ski jump nose exaggerated jaw and elongated ears.
Notice how they are all different. This platform was used by two neighboring tribes that got together and said let’s make something special! Now what I hadn’t realized before, was that over the years the Maoi were constantly knocked down and new ones were erected. These two tribes designed the platform to hold many moai.
Here is the back side view. The lady with the red hair was not from our group.. She was concerned about the rising of the worlds sea levels and that the Moai would be soon under water.
Some old Moai that had been destroyed.
Here you can see the cement line where the Moai on the right was put back together again after it was damaged by the Tsunami.
This guy was one of my favorites!
The closer I am, the better he looks!
Here is Sharon. She was really into the lighting and her husband had a serious camera. Most of my pictures had to be brightened as it was so difficult to see the details of the Moai.
We started our walk along the cliffs. Here is a piece of obsidian that Natalia found. It is illegal to take any rocks from the park.
Our hike begins.
Here is a sick horse. He ate lupine. He shouldn’t have. He will get sicker, drink sea water and then eventually die. We saw two recent victims on our hike.
The walk went on for a long time. I think we started just below those three hills on the left of the picture.
We gathered here to look at something, I have no idea what it was!
Natalia kept on leading us onward.
We arrived at a rock called Te Pito Kura. It is believed that the high iron content in the rock makes compasses go crazy. The four small stones mark the points of the compass. Rumors are that touching it increases fertility. I’m to old for it to do any good.
I was never so happy to see our van! Our short easy hike was actually 3.6 miles! We hopped on the van for a short drive to Anakena Beach.
At Anakena Beach were a group of seven Moai, called Ahu Nao, Nao, not to be confused with Ahu Akivi or The Seven, that we will see tomorrow! You can see that two of the Moai have deteriorated.
Those with heads have the top knots.
This is Anakena beach. It is the only beach on the island. Although we hiked all afternoon with our bathing suits under our clothes, we didn’t have time to take a dip in the ocean. We had to hurry back for the special dinner.
Steps for the day were 13367! We will now head back to the van and go back to Explora. Natalia is really cheating here. She has a flower in her right ear signifying that she is single. She has a husband, so I was teasing her that she was actually doing a “Lemme, lemme, upgrade!”
The pit where the special feast was cooked.
Taro, sweet potato and chicken. This taro must have been mixed with banana as it tasted like banana!
We had a dance performance. With many costume changes!
Let’s watch a video our talented dancer, shall we?
I teased Steve about what would happen if her knot got loose!
At the regular dinner which was next I had invited ourselves to dine with C, the elderly French Canadian woman and her friend F, and a couple from Georgia, that we had seen yet not met. They were very kind, and said “Please do!”.
I had the fish for our main dinner. I was so full from all the other food. Our couple from Georgia was very interesting. They have traveled all over the world.
After dinner we decided to try the hot tub, and to see if we could also see the stars. Unfortunately it was overcast. We did see lots of bugs scurrying around the towel baskets. I was freaking out, as I hate bugs! Upon getting out of the pool I made sure to shine my iPhone camera app on my robe and sandals to make sure that no bugs had crawled into my clothes during our soak!
What is your honest opinion on man buns?
Do your hips lie?
Do uninvited bugs in your clothes freak you out? Notice I said uninvited…