Thursday, February 9, 2012

Arrival at Easter Island February 1st 2012

The mysteries of the huge stone Moai of Easter Island have always held a fascination for me.  So as we flew in to land at the island I was looking out the window to see if any were visible from the air.  I was surprised to see an island that is virtually treeless.  Thousands of wild horses roam freely eating the yellowy grass. The air was warm and windy.

We arrived at the O’tai Hotel and thought it would be a good idea to get some money out of an ATM machine so we could buy some bottled water.  This was not as straight forward as it sounds. The Polynesian people of Easter Island call their own island Rapa Nui and their language is very similar to the Maori language of New Zealand. The rest of the population are from Chile and they speak Spanish.  The main town on the island is called Hangaroa.  The shops seem to close between 1.00-5.00pm for an afternoon siesta time.

So by the time we had managed to get some Chilean currency Peso money out from the Santenda bank ATM, the shops were closing.  I was getting desperate for a drink and did not want to risk using water from the tap supply. We found a small store and bought two 1.5 litre bottles of water, only to find that we had bought fizzy soda water. We had hardly slept on the overnight flight from Tahiti and our patience was wearing a bit thin.

Across the road from the hotel was a large gymnasium where a huge cultural dance practice was taking place. Close to two hundred people were singing and dancing in preparation for a big festival which unfortunately would be held the day after we were scheduled to leave. It was great watching them rehearse.

We walked along the coastline near the town and discovered several small sandy beaches for swimming. For the most part Easter Island has a rocky volcanic coastline with heavy surf crashing in on the rocks. Vegetation was similar to Papua New Guinea with an abundance of flowering shrubs and beautiful striped flaxes.

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