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Easter Island: free day with a walk to the museum

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

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View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We left the alarm off this morning and don’t actually get up until 08:50. We are the last for breakfast, which is a cakey-thing and bananas, ham and cheese. The rolls are much fresher this morning than they have been.

Today is the other free day on our trip, and we have planned our little walking tour. We start along the coast, past the kiddies’ playground (better than any in Nailsea) and some strange porous sculptures with petroglyphs on.

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It’s a nice walk, along a good path, the terrain is rocky but flat and the sun is out. There are lots of beautiful wild horses around; the island is full of them. They are not really wild; they do belong to somebody, but are free to wander around as they please. We see one other tourist on our walk, a weird man carrying lots of gear. For the most part we have the whole place to ourselves. It is Sunday morning, so the locals are in Church.

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Along the coast is a row of five restored moai on a ceremonial platform, and one solitary statue with its basalt eyes in place. This is how they would have all looked at one time. I try to picture in my mind how the island would have looked in its heyday with all the moai upright and painted. It is hard to imagine. The overwhelming amount of history and culture found on Easter Island far belies its size.

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We turn off inland and follow a track until we reach the small museum. Victor warned us that although it is fairly interesting, there really isn’t all that much on display. He is right. We are given a booklet in English to follow the exhibits, and for me the most noteworthy item is the only female moai on the island – its torso had been taken by Thor Heyerdahl, but was returned from Norway in the 1970s.

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In the small shop we look for souvenirs for my mum, but at US$45 for a thimble, I’m afraid she goes without. The temperature inside the museum is far too hot with no movement of air. I am glad to get outside. We return to town along the little gravel road, passing many urban houses along the way. It is interesting to see how the locals live.

For lunch we revisit the seafront restaurant from last night. Yesterday I noticed somebody eating a chicken soup and it looked so good I wanted to try one today. It is every bit as enjoyable as it looks; an enormous bowl piled high with vegetables, chicken and noodles. And best of all – not a chip in sight! David also enjoys his spaghetti Bolognese. We watch the surfers in the harbour, and it starts to rain heavily. Again. All the locals are out on the town’s only football pitch for a derby. We have seen at least five different games so far. We were hoping to be able to use the internet in the reception for a short while this afternoon, but it is unattended, they are probably watching the football. Just as well we took our key with us when we went out. After a long siesta we enjoy a drink in the room before going down to Pea Restaurant for dinner. Reported to be the best restaurant in town, we have saved it for the last dinner. I immediately like it when I see that there are several items on the menu that don’t include chips. My chicken comes with rice and pineapple while David’s steak is accompanied by mashed potato. Back at the hotel the reception is again manned and we send a quick message to Pauline to wish her happy birthday. More drinks in the room before it’s time for bed.

Posted by Grete Howard 08:22 Archived in Chile Tagged walking travel chile rtw easter_island moai hanga_roa thor_heyerdahl Comments (0)

Easter Island: Rano Kau, Orongo Ceremonial Village and rain

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

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View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

It rained all through the night and this morning there is a terrible smell in our room. It smells like raw sewage and we report it to the reception on the way out hoping they’ll do something about it while we’re out.

At the first site we can still see the red paint on the fallen moai. It is thought that they were all painted at one stage. Wind and rain has damaged so much of these statues and if nothing is done to preserve them, they’ll be completely eroded away in another 500 years. What a terrible thought.

We stop at an extinct volcanic crater to look down at the lake 253m below. It is green and repulsive on the surface but the slopes are wooded and apparently quite popular with walkers. Many have got lost where they didn’t realise quite how far it is.

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The Orongo Ceremonial Village is larger than I imagined. There are 48 restored houses in total, each with stone walls, grass roof and low doors. There are many theories about the usage of the buildings; my book says that the contestants for the Birdman title would stay here for a time before the competition. Victor reckons they housed virgins for up to four months at a time before the ceremonies. I do not fully comprehend what they did with the virgins afterwards. It is a very impressive site, of a later date than the moai.

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Right out on the thin ledge between the ocean and the crater lake, you can appreciate the bravery of the men who risked life and limb to jump off the cliff, swim to the outlying rocky islands, collect the first frigate bird egg of the season and return as hero and gain the title of Birdman for the following year. The ledge is very precarious in the wind and I don’t linger to peruse at the petroglyphs on the rocks.

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It rains buckets all the time we are here, and stops just as we get back to the car. In fact the weather is so bad and the conditions so wet and muddy that we totally miss out the visit to a quarry, and go back via the deep harbour and the petrol tanks. Most items have to be imported to Easter Island, including cars, fuel, clothes, electronic items and many foods. There are no mobile phones on the island as there is no signal.

The blocked drains in the hotel have not been fixed, so we end up moving to another room. This one is nearer the swimming pool, has its own balcony, a telephone and a fan! We put the fan on to dry David’s clothes which are still rather wet from washing them 2 days ago. I am waiting for David’s to dry before I do mine as we have nowhere to dry any more clothes.

Lunch at a little café in the high street is slow but good. I order the local speciality of empanada (a sort of pasty) with beef and cheese, David tries the pizza and we share some chips. More chips. Please give me some boiled or mashed potatoes, pasta or rice. The waiter/cook/owner of the café is tall, painfully thin and has long flowing hair. Initially we can’t work out whether it is a man or a woman, but we decide it is a he and that he is gay. We really don't care about his (or her) sexual preferences, and at £12 for the lot including a couple of beers each, we're not unhappy . There are two internet cafés in town, but they are both closed and no opening times displayed outside. It is still raining. The only thing we can do is to adopt the Latino way of life with an afternoon siesta. The runs are back, I don’t want to block up these toilets too.

For our evening meal we try another restaurant in the high street, and although it appears to be very popular, the menu is rather limited. Apart from chicken and chips, there is fish and chips and also lobster at a hefty price. We choose chicken and chips. I still don’t feel too well, so I eat some of the chicken but leave most of the chips. I hope we soon get something different.

Who’d have believed that we’d get such a spectacular sunset after all the rain we’ve had today. Several tourists congregate at the harbour to watch the sun go down behind the restored moai in the main street.

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Posted by Grete Howard 08:07 Archived in Chile Tagged rain travel chile rtw easter_island Comments (1)

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