Jeff's blog

Final Day in Rapa Nui

Written By: jeff

Posted On: June 13th, 2010

Career break, rtw blog on Easter Island

Moai at sunset

I awoke this morning at 6:30 to go for a quick run before the activity of the day began.  The island was absolutely still.  The purr of the ocean played in the background as I made my way through the downtown harbor and toward the restored moai ahus (platforms) not far from the hotel.  I hung out there a bit and just took in the site of the mighty moai.  They stood there as they have for hundreds of years.  They would welcome today as they have thousands of other times.  As the sun began to peak through, I started heading back to the hotel.  It was a great way to start the day.

Career break rtw blog on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Today I had 2 tours.  The bus came by the pick us up at the hotel around 9:30.  We headed off to the volcano that is on the eastern part of the island which was stunning.  The three volcanos that formed the island are all extinct.  This particular volcano holds a special place in the history of the island as it held an annual competition among the clans to fight for the right of their leader to be king for a year.  It was called the “Birdman” competition.  We saw the ruins of the houses where the various clans lived during the annual competition.  The dormant crater holds a vast reservoir of rain water and is covered in greenery which has taken root.  The trail is rocky as it is in the rest of the island and the sides of the crater plunge into the ocean below.  It rained on us up top and the winds blew strongly but once we left, we reached a level with warmer, drier air.

We then headed off to see some caves which housed fisherman. The Rapa Nui name has a couple of translations.  One was “Place Where the Men Eat” to signify the place where the fishermen (always male) ate the food prepared and left for them by the women.  One of the other translations is “Place Where the Men Are Eaten.”  This place is also where the slaves of the clans would wait to find out who the winner of the Birdman competition was.  Once the winner was announced, fighting would break out and the losers were eaten.  Cannibalism came late to the island and grew out of desperation for a lack of resources once the Rapa Nui had deforested the island and resources were scarce.

Career Break, rtw blog on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Finally in the morning, we headed off to see the Inca Stones.  One scientist believed that the Rapa Nui were not Polynesian but rather descendants of the Incas.  There was one platform that he found on the island constructed perfectly and with lines similar to those found in the Incan ruins in Machu Pichu in Peru.  Through the miracle of DNA testing, his theories were debunked and he had to admit he was wrong.  But, the platform was an impressive sight.  We also saw one of the four moai that is female.

In the afternoon, the highlight was seeing “The 7.”  It is the only platform on the island where the moai face the sea and are not located along the shore.  This was the first restoration project led to further investment to help restore other parts of the island.

For the past few nights, I have been trying to catch some pictures of the sunset.  But, the skies have been filled with storm clouds not allowing the sun to peek through.  Finally tonight the skies were only partly cloudy and I knew I had a chance.  I trekked down to a moai site close to the hotel (both on the west coast of the island) with the British couple I met at the hotel, Brian and Anne.  I finally got my pics.  The sunset wasn’t the most brilliant I’ve ever seen but I didn’t care.  I got to see the sun set behind the mighty moai.  It was brilliant.  It was the perfect sunset for my last night in Rapa Nui.

Career break, rtw blog on Easter Island

Moai at sunset

We headed off to a restaurant in town and enjoyed a grilled tuna with salad and wine.  Brian and Anne were delightful and I’ve enjoyed spending time with them the past few days.  They are avid travelers so we compared notes from places we had both been and exchanged recommendations on places we had been but the other hadn’t.  They were in Quito last year and gave me some good tips for the city.

Originally published April 23, 2007

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One Response to “Final Day in Rapa Nui”

  1. Monica Saavedra says:

    Do you know of cheapest places to stay/camping areas or any soul that would receive an American who is an ESL teacher and is DYING to go and see the Eclipse…..?

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