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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Easter Island: The Sights, Part 2

Gretchen is very serious about the Moai
To round out our trip to Easter Island, I'll cover the rest of the sights that we visited over the course of the week.

We had a day or two of cooler weather with clouds so we stayed close to the hotel - but never fear, there were resurrected Moai to be seen within walking distance of the Hanga Roa Hotel.  These statues seemed to be in worse shape than some of the other that have been restored.  The sea was a bit more aggressive on this part of the island, maybe they have been through a tsunami?  Maybe caught in tribal warfare?  No one in our group knew...
They certainly make for a great photo opportunity.  It was amazing to watch the girls running around on the grass in front of the statues - they had no concept of how remote/sacred/unique this place was to visit.  It was just another fun place to roam for them - and I guess, in a way, it's the same for the adults...

There was also a vibrant, well cared-for cemetery between our hotel and the Moai platform.  It was quiet when we passed by the first time, but we returned again a few days later and the place was buzzing with people.  There were very few faux flowers, all of the pretty plants were real and growing in the cemetery.

Having additional days to spend on this type of vacation allowed us to kick back and spend time just watching the waves and being with friends.  Sometimes the best way to spend a day is to share a strawberry with your best friend.

The island is a prime place for fishing as well, so one morning, Daddy and Uncle Jeff went off, risking their lives with the local fishermen.  They spent the morning fishing with nothing but a hook, a piece of raw chicken, a fishing line and a rock and were more successful than they thought possible.  

We spent the morning with Play-Doh, which (to my delight) was also more successful than the Moms thought was possible.  Play-Doh kept these two busy for a solid 30 minutes - it was nothing short of a miracle!

The second day that we decided to rent a car, we drove to the other big tourist draw on the island, the Rano Kau volcano. This volcano is thought to be the first, originating, volcano of the island.  Basically, this is where it all began.  There are 3 volcanos in total that make up the island, but Rano Kau is widely regarded as the most beautiful.
Now that the volcano is extinct, it serves as the largest location of fresh water on the island.  This is also the most important part of the island to one of the more recent civilizations, the Birdman Cult.  The Birdman Cult people took over after the statue-building civilization, though the exact timeframe is unclear (somewhere around the 1550s).  The name of this civilization is based off of the way in which the people chose their leaders - previously through a heredity system - which was now done through a yearly competition.  Each year, boys of a certain age competed to collect the first egg laid by a certain species of migratory bird, the sooty tern.  The sooty tern arrived once a year to breed on a small island off the coast of where the Rano Kau volcano is located.  The competitors scaled the far side of the volcano, down 340 meters, into the ocean where they swam across shark infested waters to arrive on a very small islet and awaited the birds to begin laying eggs.  The first to arrive back on the island with an egg was the new "royalty" of the civilization.

Luckily, we didn't need to do all that, we're all friends here:

We also visited one of the many cave sites on the island - Las Dos Ventanas.  It was very cool, and very dark, and a bit scary (both the ride and trying to navigate the cave in the pitch black).  The only lights we had were a cell phone, and the flash of my camera. It is named "The Two Windows" based on the 2-way view you have of the ocean from the inside of the cave.

One Ventana
Dos Ventanas
We had lots to eat at our hotel, but we ventured to the Haka Honu restaurant twice on our trip, and both meals were incredible.  The drinks were fresh (they had fresh fruit juices like papaya, mango, strawberry, etc for the girls) and the seafood was to die for.  This was the best ceviche we had on the trip, and possibly the best seafood I have had ever.

And then, even though it was cloudy at the hotel, we ventured to the beach once again on the other side of the island.  We were in luck!  The beach was beautiful, clear and sunny!
Daddy and Gretchen enjoying the waves
A little cool, but too pretty not to get in!

Gretchen and Talia's baby pool
And some Moai to watch over us at the beach...
What an amazing trip.  One of the places that we will almost certainly never visit again - but recommend to anyone that is interested in history, mysterious cultures, remote locations or beautiful beaches.  We are so lucky to be able to travel to these fantastic locations - Easter Island was pure joy.

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