Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Easter Island

I think if there is one place on this Earth that I was meant to live it would be Easter Island. When I thought about Easter Island I didn’t think about a town or local people or beautiful water, I just pictured a deserted island with huge statues. I was so wrong.
Reasons I love Easter Island:
1. There are stray dogs that look like German Shepards and are really friendly and sweet.
2. There are wild horses all over the island. They are so beautiful.
3. The water is beautiful, the weather is beautiful, the people are nice.
4. You can walk almost anywhere. I love walking places, I would always rather walk than have to drive.
So, we arrived Monday morning at 3:30 AM. As soon as we got to the hotel we crashed. The hotels were small so the group split up in to three hotels. At 9 we were up and getting ready , and at 11:30 we walked to another hotel for lunch. Here is a picture of the island from the back of our hotel.

She went for a walk with me when I went to get coffee at 9.

After lunch we started visiting the sites where the Moai are located. First we went to Ahu Tahai. This is the location of about 6 Moai. One was set up and fixed for a movie that was filmed in Easter Island. It is easy to pick out because the eyes are painted.

There was a boat ramp that was used back when the Moai were made that is still there. So I walked down and took some pictures and put my feet in the water.

If you click on this one all of the Moai are in the background, even though I look silly.

One of my friends

So when we walked up we were standing at a distance listening to our guide explain the site. All of a sudden something told me to turn around, so I did. And walking up behind me was a group of about 5 horses, just grazing and running through the site.

Our tour guide is another story. Edmundo Edwards, google him. He has published, done a ton of research and probably gotten in to some trouble. He knew so much and helped up to learn, but he kept us entertained with some hilarious stories. I think he has 6 children. One daughter, Carolina, owns a restaurant/bar on the island and one son, Arturo, is working for the tour company, ATS, for now, but is starting to brew the first Easter Island beer next month. The neatest family.
Next we went to the site of the Rano Kau Volcano and the Ceremonial village of Orongo. There is a crater where the Volcano once was, and the Moai were constructed using lava rocks. It was beautiful, there is a sort of swamp area at the bottom on the crater. Here we are at the top where the crater is. Dad is showing his support for NHHS in Easter Island this day.

Here is a picture of the crater.

Orongo is the ancient site of the historic birdman cult celebrations. Yes, I copied that directly from our itinerary sheet. The honor of birdman was given to one man each year. The men who were chosen as candidates to be the birdman selected a young man who was in shape to represent him in the competition. Now, the competition was that the men had to swim out to the birdman island and collect an egg from the local bird who was nesting there and swim back to shore with the egg. The first to return with an undamaged egg won the competition for his candidate. This was taken very seriously. The losers would cut off their fingers and cut slices in their scalps as punishment to themselves.

Bird island is the bigger island to the left of me. It was a pretty far swim, and the competitors would spend days sleeping on the island waiting to find an egg.

Also up at this site the birdman would live for his year. All around his home there are carvings in the stone of birdmen. Here is a picture of a traditional home where people lived. It is open only so you can see inside, it would normally be covered. The homes were used solely for sleep.

Click on this to see the carvings in the stones. They are hard to see, but it’s just so amazing to me.

So, after this we headed back to the hotel and then went to the craft center to shop for some local souvenirs. After messing around for a while Diana and I decided to walk back to the hotel, it was about a 15 minute walk. We saw a pretty sail boat and some surfers on our way back.
Then we got ready for dinner, where we wore our Williams Family World Tour shirts and took a family picture…aren’t we cute?

So we got a show of the local singing and dancing and our three guides talked to us before dinner. The guides were Edmundo Edwards (our guide), Claudio Cristino, and Patricia Vargas. Claudio and Patricia are married and have children, one of which we became friends with, Atariki. He works for the travel company along with his parents. I think that the three guides probably own the company. They are all archeologists and have each done an unbelievable amount of work on Easter Island. One thing that amazed me is how many languages they speak. Atariki, who is 24, speaks Spanish, English, French, German, and probably a few more.
After dinner Diana, who was a little tipsy, decided that she wanted to experience the night life of Easter Island. So while I was Skyping and checking my email, Diana was befriending Atariki and making plans for us for the night. When she returned she informed me that we were being picked up at 10:30 and were going to the restaurant/bar that Carolina owns. Then she made friends with a dog and fed it all of the leftover food from dinner. Oh Diana.

So, I got our friend Michelle to join us for drinks. We ended up having a really great time! The restaurant was really nice and we sat on the back patio and drank and talked to Atariki and Arturo about life on Easter Island vs. life in the States. It was really interesting and I am excited to have friends in Easter Island!
Here we are, I stole Diana’s pictures! Us with Michelle and our Easter Island friends!

So, getting up at 7 the next morning was nothing short of awful, but at least I wasn’t hung over!
The next day we first visited Rano Raraku Quarry. This is the site of almost 400 moai who never made it to their intended final resting place. The moai are in various stages of completion, some look completely finished, some are still in stone that is connected to the earth. Many are half buried in the ground. This site was unbelievable. The moai are everywhere, like there is nothing special about them.

Here is a size comparison, and they are half underground

In the second picture, the moai was being carved in stone that was still in the earth.
After this we went to Ahu Tangariki, where 15 statues were restored after a Tsunami knocked them all down and broke them. My camera battery died, so I only got one picture, but I am stealing Diana’s pictures.

Diana and I walked behind these moai because you can get much closer from the back of them and appreciate their size more. Behind here is where Diana made her offering to the Moai. A ceremonial puke dedicated to their vast amazingness. Aww, and no one saw that. But when our bus had to pull over later and she jumped out to make another offering everyone saw. Poor Diana, she felt much better after that.

Next we drove to Anakena Beach for a BBQ lunch. After lunch I threw on my swim suit and jumped in to the Pacific Ocean! It was so nice! A little chilly at first, but it warmed up! Then we drove to one last site, Ahu Akivi, where 7 moai have been restored. This site is unique because these are the only statues that do not face the village but instead the ocean.
We had a minute to rinse off at the hotel and jump on our plane for a 9 hour flight to Apia, Samoa.
I have to be honest, I wans’t sure what to expect from Easter Island. Certainly not the amazing time that we had. I can honestly say, if I could speak fluent Spanish I would consider jumping on a plane ever y November and getting a job in Easter Island for the 3 month summer season. I have never felt so peaceful in my life. No stresses, not many cars, no highways, just the island. When we left I kept feeling like I was forgetting something, and I think it was a little piece of my heart. I know that sounds stupid, but it’s true! I think everyone in my family felt the same way.

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