Category Archives: Chile

The Easter Island Moais

I arrived in Santiago, Chile just to continue to Easter Island. Santiago has it’s own beauty, however besides from Santiago’s nice atmosphere, good food, bars and many streetdogs my mission was: Easter Island!

Easter Island aka Rapa Nui, aka Isla de Pascua, aka Paaseilanden. I first came in contact with it, actually through the game “Super Mario Land” on the Gameboy. In one of the final levels,  featured these odd looking, stone, statue faces. My fascination started when I heard that there is an island in the middle of nowhere where these faces, called Moai actually exist. I told my self that I would go there when I am big…. And now I’m big I guess ;-)

Through the years of course I got to learn more about this mythical place. Heard the stories and the myths. The heads of the Moai seemed to have complete bodies underground with ancient scriptures. The population used so much of their resources for transporting the Moai, that they almost starved to dead, leading to clan wars and cannibalism. Easter Island originated from the eruption of three volcanoes Terevaka, Poike and Rano Kau. One of the volcanoes crater slope the Rano Raraku was used to carve the Moais. The Moai are actually burial places. A family would order a Moai with the hewers (people who carved the Moais). The familiy paid by serving the hewers food until the Moai was finished. That maybe explains that untill this day, no one knows how long it took to build a Moai hahaha and also no one knows how many people it took to carve the Moai out of the slope. Finally they still are not sure how they moved the Moai from the Rano Raraku to the village of the family where the Moai would stand. So this is the place I was going to. I even recollect my omen-like encounter with the tattooed guys in Jericoacoara

It took about 5 hours by plane from Santiago, where I arrived a few days before. There is a 2 hour time difference between Santiago and Easter Island. When we landed, it was the most cosy and funny airport I had ever seen. No plane trunk, we just used a stair to walk out of the airplane, being welcomed by some guys playing hawai-type guitar music. All the woman got a yellow flower to put in their hair. Customs took one minute and there I was… On the island. The guy from the hotel picked me up. When I got in to the car and wanted to fasten my seat belt he said: “No, no, no. Relax. Here it is not necessary”. Wauw! He gave me a short tour around the city, telling me where I could find everything. I looked around to see if I could already see any Moai, but I couldn’t, which even fed my excitement. The hoteI was actually a group of apartments, with one apartment serving as the front desk and lobby. They where surrounded by a nice garden with colorful flowers. Mine had a room with three beds. Don’t ask me why, but that was just the fact. The hotel was runned by a woman named Anna, her son (the guy that picked me up) and her daughter.

The island had an immediate relaxing effect on me. It was pleasently warm and there is a constant breeze, because it’s an island I guess. And the sound of the wind going through the leaves of all the plants and trees is relaxing. Also a lot of wild horses inhabit the island. You could see them passing by now and then.

I went out for something to eat. I ordered the local dish. Cerviche. Not knowing that it is a plate of mixed, raw seafood in a bowl of lettuce accompanied by rice. I literally saw the raw squid tentacles on my plate. The people from the restaurant where so kind, that I gave it a try and I was hungry and needed nutricious food. I stuffed some in my mouth and chewed without thinking. I got pretty far, mixing every bite with a lot of rice. But after I ran out of rice I could no more! Awfull!! Why would someone do that to another person!? Lol.

People here are nice and relaxed, but very forgetful. A few examples…There was no electricity in my room except for one plug. The guy from the hostel assured me he would fix it in 10 minutes. It happened sometimes. When I came back from the center and asked him how it went with the electricity he had really no idea what I was talking about. But when I explained him again he was like: “Ooooh, no problem. 10 minutes.” He eventually got me an extension cord to use with the one plug that was working. You got to love ‘m for that. I went to a restaurant and asked the waitres what this purple/white meat was on my plate. I was just curious. She was going to ask the chef. When she came back from the kitchen she started to clean some tables. When I asked here if she got to know what it was, she looked at me with a big question mark above her head. She went back again and got that it was squid. My plan was to book a tour for the next day. I could choose between three tours. I asked Anna before what time I should let her know which tour I would like to take, so she could call the tour operators. She told me to tell her before 20:00. Deal! When I told her my choice at about 19:00 o’clock. She called the tour operators. “They were already closed.”, she said. “Probably went home earlier. We’ll try tomorrow morning and see if we can get you on one.” The hotel also served breakfast in bed. You just had to name a time. How nice!! We agreed that I would have the breakfast at 8:30 and we would call the tour operators at 9:00. Eventually I got up two hours too early because I forgot to adjust my clock to the new time zone, the breakfast got served at 9:20 and we called the tour operator at 9:40. Hahaha All this is possible, because of the relaxation of the island. And why should I stress. I was in a beautiful place, the tour could be done at 10:00 and come on… breakfast in bed… where do you get that these days? And in Easter Island it is all about the rubber time. Take it easy!

The tour was lovely. We started at Akahanga, an archeological site. Then went to Tongariki the famous place with the sixteen Moai statues. From there we went on to the Rano Raraku site from which the Moai statues were carved. We could still see some unfinished carvings. And to think that it is said that some of these statues have a complete body under the earth with supposedly ancient scriptures is crazy. It felt really strange, epic and big at the same time. A special moment I will never forget! After that we went to Te Pito Kura and ended up at the Anakena beach to relax. At Te Pito Kura the guide showed us a stone, the size of a basketball. The stone was surrounded by four smaller stones. It was used in ancient times by the people of Easter Island to determine North, East, South and West. “If you put your compass on it”, the guide explained “The needle of your compass will go crazy, because of the magnetic field.” One guy seriously put his iPhone on the stone with a compas app running and wondered why it didn’t go crazy. Like.. Seriously!!?? Hahaha After the tour I went for something to eat. A girl from the tour complained about internet being slow in this place. Then I made her aware of her current location. Like: “Come on, look where you are. You are on an island in the middle of nowhere… you should be glad they even HAVE internet.” Then we had a laugh about it, because it is really crazy and you would almost forget where you are.

The next day I decided to rent a scooter. When I asked for a lock, the woman laught. No one is going to steal the scooter. Where did I hear this before? Cahuita? :-) I love small towns. And if you think about it, it would be really dumb to steal a scooter on Easter Island. Where would they run to? Hahaha. And also, everyone knows everyone here. I drove up hill to Orongo a small town on the slope of the Rano Kau volcano and this trip is something I will never forget. Listening to the Fakkelteitgroep album on my iPod, driving through an idyllic bright green landscape with al sorts of colored flowers, wild horses everywhere, the sun shining fiercly, the cold breeze and the singing sound of my scooter. This was paradise! I loved it! And on top of the Orongo crater I took a moment to realize where I was and live in the now. To complement this feeling the battery of my camera got exhausted. Like life was saying: “No more pictures, just experience now”. I walked the last part uphill and there I stood. I could almost see the complete island from there and the sea surrounding it on the left, on the right and at my back. I tried to imagine that I am on this small island in the middle of nowhere, but it just couldn’t fit in to my head. It just couldn’t! All the time the island felt like a small town and even on top of this volcano I could not get rid of this thought. And then to imagine that all these clans fought tribal wars, performed cannibalism etc. on this small piece of land (25km from west to east) Crazy!! I drove all over the island with my scooter and saw a lot of Moai. I can’t see no Moai anymore! hahaha. I ended up at the Ana Kai Tangaa cave to see the cave paintings. Oh yeah, I also went to the post office to get the official Easter Island stamp in my passport. A gem amongst travellers. I can now boast with it. ;-)

I am also quite sure I was the only black guy walking around on the island at that moment. Hahaha. I was a sight. It was funny how little kids would respond to you. One little guy walked bravely next to me for a few steps and then quickly ran back to his little friends, proud! Like he was saying: I dared to walk beside him. I did it! Hahaha

The next morning I woke up by a knock on the door. It was 10:00 O’ clock. I had to check out. Guess the ruber time does not work when it is in their advantage ;-). I packed my stuff and Anna took me to the airport. The cute airport with one runway, one gate and one checkin desk. Once in the plain the flight attendant spoke the following words: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to spray the plane with insecticide, please remain seated. It does not affect your health.” What!? I am still here to write this down, so I guess I am ok. Haha

Easter Island was great! I loved it and charish this special experience. A memory no one can take away anymore! When I flew off and looked at the island getting smaller, I thought about Super Mario Land and cracked a little smile. I will leave South America now and head for the Pacific! Off we go!