Trip To EASTER ISLAND 2001
Easter Island - Sept. 2001
See the globe below? the RED dot is the approximate location of Easter Island, pretty far out there ehh?
After some 28 hours of travel time and a 4 hour delay by lan chile(an expected norm, but they are the only airline that services this island) we are glad to be here, many dreams of visiting the giant stone moai(large stone tiki's to those not in the know) are about to become a reality.
The real name of this land is rapa nui, named so by it's indigenous people. rapa nui is also a territory of the country of chile, some 2000km to the east of here. It seems as though most of the rapa nui, don't particularly care for these chileans controling their lives and land , rightly so i suppose.
The 3000 residents of this isle are super friendly, happy and warm people. All the population lives in the only city, hanga roa, in small shacks seemingly like an impoverished nation. But what they lack in money, they make up for in culture. I never saw a beggar, all the children were pleasant and full of joy, the adults love their siestas and pisco (brandy) in the evening. An all around great people.
This islands history can be found anywhere on the web, so I'll skip most of it...but in brief.
Rapa Nui was colonized by polynesians several hundred years ago. The people were very spiritual and erected giant Heads (moai) to impress their gods. This was called "mana" and a village with good "mana" was believed to prosper. Over time the villages population grew and grew, using up this small islands resources. With no trees, food or trade the villages began to fight with each other over the remaining resources. This war led to the first toppling of the Moai. Then came along the Europeans. These new European missionaries toppled the rest of the moai and for years the missionaries converted the population. Then Rapa Nui was raided for slaves by Peru, effectively wiping out the learned class. 50 years ago Rapa Nuians began to relearn their history and began to re-erect the large Moai. And this is still in progress today.......there ya have it, not all inclusive but it'll help you to understand.
Now about the MOAI!!!
These babies are huge! Some are 45 feet tall and weigh several tons. The Moai were carved in a centralized quarry and then transported over land standing up to their final destination. If one should fall it was considered bad luck(Mana) and a new one had to be started. I cannot stress enough on how awe inspiring these guys are, my photo's just don't do them justice.
To get around the Island (which is actually 30km long, so it's not walkable) you can take a tour or rent a horse, motorcycle or jeep. As it does rain here 2/3 of the year we opted for something with a roof. Out on your own is really the only way to see this island, no tourists. Infact tourism here is rather limited (when we were there there were only 28 tourists) so expect nothing in comforts, just the way it should be. The roads are harsh but fun and remarkably well marked.
more will be written at a later date (see below for facts and a MOVIE!!!), or if you have any questions feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW!!! My Little Home Movie shot on Easter Island - Tons of Moai Head footage (12mb 320x240-Quicktime required, this does not stream it will download the entire file, then play it, so those with 56k connections be patient, If you wish to save this to your hard drive, right click and save as)
I LOVE RAPA NUI, but here are some little Facts about visiting rapa nui
<easter island, or as the chileans renamed it, isle de pascua>
Exchange your money, I cannot stress this enough. Yes they do accept us dollars here, but you will always get an exchange rate higher(which will cost you more) from a shop keeper than a bank, i learned this late in the game, as a result i did not receive the greatest deals to be had. So.......trade in those green backs for some pesos and you'll do well.
Always bargain, even with basic spanish skills it is easy to get the price down, Try to get at least 25% off.
Better yet , don't buy souveneirs until you arrive at the airport on your way out, this is the place to get excellent deals on some great moai's. It is a little market in the parking lot of the airport, and something costing 300 bucks on the streets of hanga roa may be negotiated down to 50 here, now that's a bargain, ehh?
if you opt to stay in a hostel or one of the cheaper places to stay, everyone is nice and the places are clean, but you will be charged extra for little things. I heard stories of 5 dollar towels, and seemingly included breakfasts (usually bread and cheese) that later show up on your bill at excessive rates. (this appears to be a problem throughout polynesia as i continue my travels)
Want some ham? Don't unless you like canned ham. Supplies on this isolated place are meager at best as just about everything is shipped here.
I will recommend the Chicken. It may not look like perdue, but it's darn good. Chickens and dogs wander this island and are free range. (this is not to be misconstrued, you won't be served dog)
Coca cola is everywhere, where is the pepsi rep?