Scenes of Easter Island Caves and Skies at Sunset
The Famous 15 Maoi Statues
Viewed from the National Park.
Viewed from the National Park.
It all started in Denise's high school history class- she was required to read and watch Thor Heyerdahl's classic - Kon Tiki. She remembered that he built and sailed his raft and crew across the Pacific to prove that other cultures could have migrated to areas far from their established homes. And it was that story and the fabulous images of the stone statues that stuck in her mind all these years....
So, figuring it was the perfect thawing spot - complete with gorgeous trade winds - she asked Glenn to book a 4 day trip to Easter Island after being on an Antarctic cruise for 12 days. And so it came to be.
But- not before spending hours at the much maligned Santiago aeropuerto - waiting for our flight. Cold temperatures throughout the terminal, dirty seating, toilets warmer than the waiting areas, unannounced changing of departure gates, buses and steps instead of covered walkways to the planes, oh, lest we forget Lan's airline hospitality - all the starch and sugar you could cram into a 4 x 6 box - that was our meal.... but we got there - still enthused to be at Easter Island.
We found a great alternate hotel to the one originally booked - and it was situated on the most idyllic spot - along the Pacific cliffs - complete with a rainbow after a quick drizzle . Within a short walk from the hotel were some breathtaking cliffs, caves , fabulous sunsets, and the trade winds were truly invigorating. Easter Island is small enough to be seen within 4 days - so it all worked out perfectly. We took a full day bus tour and saw Denise's beloved statues (Maoi), extinct volcanoes, stone quarries, wild horses, scenic coastlines, and the longest airstrip in the world built by NASA originally as part of the space mission. You can rent a car, ATV, bikes, scooters, or horses, to see it all - depending upon your energy level and sense of adventure.
Walking, as usual , was our main transportation for the duration of our time at Easter Island. We walked the 30 or so minutes on the dirt road into the little town, which has lots of souvenir shops offering tropical shirts, hats, beach cover-ups and trinkets ( think of John's Pass on Madeira Beach - but on steroids!)( of course, the first time into town, Denise did not realize the one unmarked street was the one where we had to turn, so we walked an additional mile or so....) There was a local artisans market - and Denise kept looking for the "made in China" labels- such a jaded traveler is she! HAHA! We ate a few times at a great local /casual place- Club Sandwich .... seems Chile is known for their "lomitos" (sandwiches), so we indulged on some that included fresh avocado, tomato, and unless you told them to omit it, the ubiquitous gobs of mayonnaise . Found a few local bakeries, indulged in empanadas or sweets - whether we were hungry or not! Isn't that what vacation is all about, anyway?
Easter Island's natives, and there are some 6500 of them, look like folks you may have seen from either Hawaii or New Zealand or other Polynesian Islands - well they actually are Polynesian. They are tan skinned by nature, have black straight hair, and are muscular. Although they speak Spanish, you do hear them speaking in their native tongue. Seems as if, once the tourist season is over, this tight knit community takes care of each other by sharing. Not a bad way to live, if you ask me.
Our last evening on Easter Island was a surprise and a treat. We just continued walking to - literally - the southern end of the island, only to find the surfers practicing, catamarans anchored, and a restaurant with a magnificent view of it all. We literally did not even pay too much attention to the food we'd ordered- which was really good, because of the scenery and action. A great way to end a 4 day journey to some place exotic...and now Denise's 45 year old dream has been realized !