Before we arrived, Easter Island was one of those places that part of me found hard to believe was real. The images of the massive Moai are familiar to many, but to see them in person is something different.
It’s hard to fathom just how remote this place is. There is something about taking a 787 and flying it out into the middle of the pacific ocean that just seems crazy. That people managed this on tiny little boats boggles my mind.
Seriously, Easter Island (Rapa Nui to those who live there and Isla de Pascua to the Chileans) is 3,152 km from the rest of Chile. Pitcairn Island, with a population of less than 100, is the closest inhabited land and that’s still 2,075 km away… and less than 100 people.
Rain, rain go away
We spent a little more than 3 full days on the island; we arrived late on Tuesday, out early afternoon on Saturday. With that time we did what you do above all else on Easter Island, we went to see the Moai.
The Moai (giant statues) are as impressive as you would expect and though I feel like we saw a good portion of the nearly 1,000 on the island, I never really got tired of them.
I will confess that I did tire of the tours eventually though. This isn’t to knock our guide Nikolas. He was friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating of our having Ella along for the ride.
We took our tours on the first and third of our three days. The first, Ella was in a bit of a funk which wasn’t ideal. We had words a few times and she spent most of the day on my shoulders after refusing to walk. We survived in the end though.
Fortunately Ella was great for our second tour. The weather on the other hand, was less than ideal. It was driving rain for the full day, as it had been the day before. As you can imagine this is not ideal for walking around open fields and volcano crater rims on a windy coast. Eventually we were all soaked to the bone and ready to just have a hot shower and get out of the rain.
As a mild history nerd, I was interested to learn more about the history of the Moai and their impact on the civilization that built them. Having read Guns, Germs and Steel, I had some background. I wanted to hear whether the local perspective might change my perception coming in. Eventually we had spent enough time with Nikolas that I felt comfortable asking him what he thought about spending all of the time and resources to build these statues. In short, was it just a little … insane? “Oh, yeah.” He’s right. It’s amazing, but totally crazy.
Not one to overstate things, Nikolas also managed to mention nonchalantly that his mother was the Governor of the island when I asked about politics there.
Speaking of crazy, we also learned about two locals-only competitions that were pretty nuts. One involves flying down the side of a VERY steep hill on banana leaves. The other is a triathlon that takes place inside the crater of a volcano and involves building your own floatation device out of reeds to cross the lake within the crater.
Come for the Moai, Stay for dinner
One of the pleasant surprises was the food at all of the restaurants. Even if the building looked like a beachside shack, the food was, as the guide book put it, “surprisingly sophisticated”.
It didn’t hurt that many of them offered an ocean view, often with some locals surfing out front.
It seems the abundant stray dogs weren’t limited to Santiago. In fact, they were even friendly here here on Easter Island. Particularly this guy who followed us around for a while. Katy wouldn’t let Ella and I bring him home.
The Easter Bunny does live here!
In the weeks (months) leading up to this trip, I often joked with Ella about whether we might meet the Easter Bunny on Easter Island. As the trip grew closer, I started to worry that I was just setting her up for disappointment. Fortunately, I’m not the only parent to tell this story. When we went to the post office (you can get a special Easter Island Moai stamp in your passport) they had a display of all the letters sent to the Easter Bunny. Luckily, Ella didn’t question this public display of his personal correspondence.
An interesting sidenote is that if you’re ever looking to write EB, but aren’t sure about the address it would seem from the different addresses on the board that anything that says EB and mentions Chile or Easter Island will work.
Our last day on the island was relatively dry and gave us a chance to walk around town a bit before we head back to the mainland.
Up next we fly back to Santiago and, after an exciting night at the airport Holiday Inn, on to Pucon.