30.12.2010 - 04.01.2011
We arrived on December 30th to our lovely family run campsite called Mihinoea run by Marta and Roger who were also lovely. The site was just off the coast and had fab views of the sea. It was a gorgeous little spot. It was also a bargain at 3000 chillien pesos (560=£1).
Easter Island only has 1 town called Hanga Roa. But there is the odd house dotted here and there. The campsite was only about 600m from the airport but surprisingly very quiet. It was such a cute airport though!! Apparently the runway has been built big enough so that if a space shuttle entering the Earth's atmosphere is in trouble and because Easter Island is the most remote place in the World, the tarmac is suitable for it to land safely there. That is what we were told anyway!!
First things first- New Years Eve.
The campsite had put on a huge BBQ with ribs, fish, chicken, sausages, and a load of salads and it was amazing!!!!!!! No marinades used, just cooked really slowly over ash for about 2 hours. They seem to do everything a bit slower here. They wait for the wood to burn right down away from the BBQ then transfer the ashes underneath the huge grill. We were looking at the meat and thought that it would be so overdone but it was just done perfectly and really yummy.
The local or common drink here was Pisco and coke, but combine this with wine and beer to make me forget a lot of the nights antics!!!!!!! I dont think I have been that drunk in AGES!! We met a Dutch couple called Anita and Frank and also a group of Chilian girls on holiday from Santiago. I was very ill and dont remember being put to bed and cared for by Darren at all. But I do remember seeing in the New Year and playing cards and also remember waking up in the middle of the night and wonderihng where Darren was- he had had his own little drunken adventure by going into the town to sample the nightlife!!!!!! Apparently men ride to the bars on horse back still here!! Darren knows this because he nearly got mowed down by a couple of mates who were racing each other on horseback through the middle of town when Darren was stumbling to the club!
When the hangover finally went we thought we had better get on and see what we had come here to see!! So we hired a car and went around the Island.
All of the Moai (heads) that are upright now have been re erected in the last century. A combination of natural disasters-earthquakes and tsunamis- and bloody wars between clans resulted in these huge head being toppled off their Ahu (ceremonial site) in the 17th and 18th century.
It's quite interesting how this island became virtually inhabited. After the clans had done damage to each other and over population had taken its toll on the limited resources, the Europeans then found the island. But this was nearly the end. thousands of islanders were kidnapped by various countries as slaves and especially when thousands were taken to go and work on the guano deposits in Peru's Chincha Island. By the time the authorities had ordered their release 90 % had died from hard labour and disease. The opther 10% homeward bound then were struck down by smallpox, which killed most of them, but it also meant that smallpox then took hold of the island. This resulted in only a few hundred survivors on the entire island! For the next 100 years or so the island was governed by a wool company after it was annexed by Chile, but then taken over by the Military until a commercial airlink between Santiago and Tahiti was opened in1967 which used Easter Island as a fuel stop and opened it up to the rest of the World.
Since 2008 the island has been a 'terratoria especial' which means greater autonomy for the islanders.
50000 tourists come through the island each year which of course brings it benefits for the island but also brings problems. But new regulations and measures to protect this heritage site will hopefully be introduced.
So history lesson is over!!
The Ahu to visit for sunrise is the Ahu Tongariki. The sun comes up behind 15 moai and looks amazing. These were all re erected in 1992 by a Japanese company. We got there at about 0630 and sat in silence waiting for the sun to show us what it could do. Pretty special.
The Ahu to see at sunset is Ahu Vai Uri which is quite close to the museum. It has 5 Moai and again is very cool.
Near this is the Ahu Ko Te Riku which has eyes and is quite scarey!!!! Not many of them have eyes and I'm glad because they give me the creeps!!
There is also a Moai called Ahu Tahai which stands inbetween the 2 Moais above and that is also very impressive.
There are a few national parks to go to but they wanted $100 each to go in so we just got as close as we could and put the lense on full zoom!!
These are just a few of the Moais which we passed