|Easter Island is probably about the most isolated place in the world, in terms of a thriving community where tourists visit. It’s about 3,500 miles from anywhere, just a small island no more than 20 km long in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It has several names. The Polynesians call it Rapu Nui (as does Hollywood), the Chileans (who own it) call it La Pacaya and everyone else calls it Easter Island. It is an awesome place for many different reasons.
The isolate ruggedness of the place is incredible. It is surprisingly green and has lots of trees which we were surprised by given how it is often used as an example of a community over using its resources and subsequently collapsing into war and chaos. The coast is very rugged and rocky, battered by huge surf. Only one end of the island resembles a South Pacific island with white sandy beaches and swaying palm trees. There are many hills and volcanoes in the middle of the island. There is only one main town, which is small and quaint. The water is an incredible colour, said to be some of the clearest water in the world. There are no algae or anything and it is like a sea of gin and when the sun shines on it the colours of blue are simply sublime. Temperature wise it is tropical all the year round, though it does get cold winds and we were there in the winter season. I never wore more than a tshirt and the sun burns but it wasn’t uber hot, just pleasant.
The main draw is the Moai. There are over three hundred statues around the island, some standing tall, others lying on the ground. Some are about 11 metres tall and weigh over 80 tonnes. To see them standing is mind boggling, both in the intricacy of the carving and detail and also in the sheer size. How they managed to carve them out of stone with limited tools, transport them all over the island and then erect them is still a mystery. There are all sorts of explanations ranging from alien landings to various engineering hypotheses. No one really knows for sure and it’s the sort of place where it’s almost best not to guess just to stand up and look on in awe. We visited a quarry where there are still dozens that are half finished and it is eerie to walk around and see all these strange faces just gazing out at the barren landscape. It is somewhere I’ve wanted to see my whole life and, like the pyramids in Egypt or Machu Pichu, no matter how many pictures you’ve seen or books you’ve read it doesn’t lessen the awe-inducing spectacle of just walking around them. The sunsets were awesome too, and to watch the sun going down behind the statues and seeing them standing in blood red sky is the sort of clay that poetry is sculpted from.
We spent about four days exploring the island, including by quad bike. I tried surfing on one day and it was a cheeky session! Very strong currents and about three feet of water above a sharp coral reef that felt like surfing on a mine field of potential destruction. The board I hired wasn’t great (that old chestnut!) and didn’t make it any easier, but some waves were caught and some wipe-outs were had!
The only negative thing about the island was the price. It is the most expensive place we’ve been, everything is double the price so four days was about right else we would have been bankrupt. You can understand that to import everything from thousands of miles away is going to have a mark up but it isn’t cheap! The people of the island were amazing, really friendly and also very attractive – you would assume such an isolated place would be like an inbred seven toed freak fest but that definitely isn’t the case! It was so nice after South America to be able to just stroll around a place at all times of day and night without looking over your shoulder for bandidoes.
All in all it’s a magical place and we loved it and for me it was one of the trip highlights so far.
IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY!
There are far worse places in the world to turn 34 – Easter Island was a little treat in fact. Although I didn’t start the day off with some bucks fizz, we did however have a really fun day quad biking around the whole island on a beautiful and sunny day. We did have a few technical hitches with the bike to start with and never did work out how to reverse it but we did work out that we could get 70km/h out of it along dirt tracks! We stopped at the beach for fresh tuna sandwiches and a beer for lunch, before heading back for some pre-dinner pisco sours.
We managed to get me a free ‘special birthday cocktail’ from the restaurant that we ate at which overlooked the sea in the harbour area and where we had the most delicious freshly caught fish and sweet potato. Next stop was a traditional dance show of which we have posted some pictures. The Polynesian girls and particularly the boys(!) are very striking and attractive and wear very little - Jb had no problems at all being dragged up to dance by one said very attractive Polynesian dancer! All in all, a lovely day and beats going to work on your birthday. Although actually going to work is such a distant nightmare that I barely remember how dreadful it is but also know that we are in no hurry to go back and remember!