March 1, 2007
I had many visions of what my day was going to consist of. The first thing was taking surf lessons. I even woke up early to head out
Before I left, I met my neighbor – Mags, a Kiwi, who is here for a couple weeks for the surfing. She asked what I was going to be
doing today and I told her. Then she asked if I wanted her opinion of taking a surf class in Easter Island…
She’s been surfing for 15 years and told me that it is extremely difficult to learn here. This is also when she showed me all of her
injuries (thigh ripped up from her board, other scars, a number of places where she got sea urchin pieces stuck in her, etc.). She told
me that sea urchins are all over. She also told me that the teacher doesn’t really ‘teach’ out here. In fact, she doesn’t really even get
in the water. She just gives some pointers and then lets people go out into the water for a few hours. Mags taught in Australia and
she was telling me what surf classes consist of out there. I now had to come up with another plan of what I was going to do this
morning as I was now over taking a surfing lesson. I’m a klutz. I would be bound to hurt myself. And there isn’t too much you can
do about that when you’re on Easter Island.
I thought horseback riding would be something nice to do…and it would be a good way to see the moai that I didn’t get to see
yesterday due to my getting lost. No dice. All of the horseback trips had already left for the day.
I then went down to the dive center and signed up for a dive. I really had no intentions of doing this before I arrived since I was
here for such a limited period of time. But the nice thing about diving out here is that it isn’t some full-day affair. I got there at 11am
and was done by 1pm and could still have the rest of my day.
Originally I wanted to see the moai that was in the ocean. I was under the impression that it was discovered at some point and was
somewhat of a ruin. Nope. The guy told me that it was a moai that they dropped into the ocean four years ago. This kind of ruined a
bit of the appeal. I decided on just a normal dive.
Even though I said I would never dive again in a place where I needed a full wetsuit, I apparently went back on that. I had 5mm of
neoprene separating me from the cold Pacific waters. Diving here was unique as the coral was formed on lava rock. The coral was
also not colorful at all – it was different shades of brown in some fun, cool shapes. Hanging on all along the coral were black spiny sea
urchins. These little guys would be the kick in the a*s that I would need to work on my neutral buoyancy in the water. There wasn’t
an abundance of fish; however, I saw fish that I had never seen before. These fish stood out even more against the brown coral
because they were so colorful. I saw parrotfish, butterfly fish, puffer fish (my first time seeing these!), a fish that I am not sure of
the name of but that looked like a prissy, dainty female who batted her eyelashes (I know that’s a weird description of a fish but
that is what it reminded me of – even its fins moved as if the fish was wearing a skirt with ruffles) and trumpetfish (in several sizes
and colors). I think the trumpetfish is my new favorite fish. There was one that was the size of a snake in bright iridescent colors.
There was another small one that was bright yellow. Their snouts looked…well…like trumpets. Go figure, huh? In all honesty,
seeing fish like this made me feel like I was living in some sort of cartoon. I was growing more and more fond of the Snorks with
every minute that passed.
As we weaved our way around the coral and into crevices, my divemaster gave me the ‘okay’ sign to see if I was okay. I sure was.
But then I realized why he was doing it…we were about to make our way through a rather small hole. I am really bad with my
space perception and it is hard to tell how much room I need to allow on top so that my gas tank will clear the area. But I had to go
through – there was no way around it (literally and figuratively). It was going okay with the exception of scraping my finger against
the surface of the wall. I was just hoping that it wouldn’t be gushing blood when I came out. As I was exiting, I felt a pain in my foot.
It was odd because I didn’t think I hit my foot against anything and I had the fin on. I wasn’t really sure what happened but it hurt.
Just like my pinky, I was hoping it wouldn’t be oozing blood when I got out. As I stated earlier, Easter Island is the last place you
want to find yourself needing medical attention because, simply, I don’t think there is any medical attention to be had.
When my dive was over, it was time to brace myself for what my foot might look like. To my amazement, there was no blood.
Ahhh… But I did notice a little black dot. Coincidently, this was identical to some that Mags was showing me this morning from her
run-ins with sea urchins. I showed it to the divemaster who brushed it off as nothing so I wasn’t really sure if I did have a small sea
urchin souvenir that I was taking away with me.
My foot was in pain…but it was manageable pain. So I decided that I would set off to see the 7 moai that I wasn’t able to find
yesterday. Today I would ask for directions all along the way. About 30 minutes into my walk I stopped a Chilean family and asked
them which direction they were in using my very ‘mal’ Spanish. They somehow understood but started asking me questions which
I couldn’t understand. They ended up inviting me into their truck and they would give me a lift. Score for me!
We stopped off at a cave (Ana Kakenga). I was weary of going in. I didn’t know the Spanish word for ‘claustrophobic’. I tried to say
‘Espero afuera’ which I don’t even know if it means ‘I’ll wait outside’ but I was hoping this would get me out of it. The grandma was
telling me that I need to come and that it’s ‘bonito’. That was really the only word I understood. She also said ‘Easter Island’. I
could only assume that she was telling me that these caves are a big part of Easter Island. I didn’t want to offend. I sucked it up,
hunched over and braced myself for walking through a cave with a flashlight in hand. The end of the cave ended with two holes (i.e.
‘windows’) that looked out to the sea. Yes, I had to agree, it was beautiful. But still…I needed to get the hell out.
They dropped me off at Ahu Akivi – the seven moai on the island that face out to the sea (though they still look onto a village). I
spent some time there admiring them. A small tour group came by and I asked which direction I go to get back to Hanga Roa. They
told me that I could hop into their van if I wanted to. Oh, I wanted to. So off I went with Rapa Nui Tours. There were a couple more
stops that we made and then I was dropped off in town. By this point I had a headache that wouldn’t quit and I needed a 7pm siesta.
I awoke at 10pm and heard some people from my guesthouse hanging out. I joined them. I also used this opportunity to show Mags
my foot and ask her if I had a run-in with a sea urchin. Indeed, I did. She grabbed her medical kit and took the needle to dig away
to get the sea urchin out of me. There was one small piece she couldn’t get to. I was just happy to have someone knowledgeable
about the subject staying right next-door to me. Apparently the big sea urchins are poisonous…so it was good that I encountered
the smaller breed.
March 2, 2007
My last full day in Rapa Nui. It was time for me to pay a visit to many of the other moai on the island to let them know that I wasn’t
Our first stop was visiting moai that couldn’t really see me (known as Ahu Hanga Poukura). The reason for this was because they
were all laying flat on their faces. Poor guys. Basically, we were able to see moai booties (well, their ‘back sides’ as none of the Rapus
actually carved butts on the statues).
Our next stop (Ahu Ahakanga) was to see other moai that were in great condition. None of the moai are positioned to look at the
water (as they faced the villages to protect them) which really is a shame because the lava coastline is truly gorgeous. So the main
well-preserved guy here spends his time laying around (literally) the coast but never being able to look at it.
Next stop: the volcano (Volcan Rano Raraku) that also serves as the quarry (am I the only one who immediately thinks of the
Flintstones when I hear the word ‘quarry’?). This is where most of the moai on the island remain. The statues are made out of the
rather-soft volcanic rock which were carved using basalt stones. Some of the statues are massive (one is over 30 feet) – I was
thinking ‘Damn, that must have taken one big ladder to chisel out that face.’ We found out that wasn’t the case as they actually dug
really deep holes and would put the statues in them – this was how they were able to ‘reach’ the top of the statue. What forward-
thinkers those Rapus were…
In any case, the quarry really was great. So many moai heads. It’s pretty incredible. Plus, out in the distance you can see the largest
ahu which is Ahu Tongariki. And that would be our next stop…
First, I think a special shout out to the Japanese people is in order. Without these people and their fundage (this isn’t a word but I
think it would make a great one so I am not correcting it), there would be no Ahu Tongariki currently in tact. So to the Japanese:
Dom arigato gozaimasu! Now back to Tongariki (but really, it is too fun to say to not keep repeating the word)…
In pictures, this looks like just a lot of moai. In person, well, there are a lot of moai. Fifteen, to be exact. But it’s really, really
impressive. They all have ‘hands’ carved into them – some hands are preserved better than others. In all honesty, the location of
their hands seems to be in very close proximity to their moai private parts. Of course I didn’t volunteer this information during my
We had a couple other stops (like seeing the largest moai on the island – Ahu Te Pito Kura) but the last stop was probably the most
noteworthy: Playa de Anakena. This is one of the only beaches on the island. And, my, was it beeee-autiful.
Imagine being at a beach and seeing moai (Ahu Nau Nau) just meters away. Then the fact that they are in such great condition (due
to them being covered in sand for so long). The beach consists of many small sand dunes and enough palm trees to give anyone and
everyone shade, if that is what they please. The water was a bright, beautiful blue that was intensified by the light sand and the
dark lava coast line. And then there were the horseys wandering around the beach. The next hour was spent idling away while
watching the water (as the water was a bit too cold for my taste to get into – this coming from a girl who braved the Antarctic
That pretty much wrapped up my day tour. Later on I bought a seafood empanada and headed out to Ahu Tahai. I parked my butt
on a rock and sat while the sun made its exit for the day. An amazing final sight to see before wrapping up my time on Easter
March 3, 2007
I am now at the airport about to head back to Santiago. It’s a good thing that there were several other people at my guesthouse
leaving as well. They talked to the owner and she did a bit of research and saw that the plane that we were taking was scheduled to
come in an hour early. She told us this meant that our plane was going to be taking off an hour early because planes only can stay on
the runway for an hour. I won’t lie. I thought there was no way this was possible and that we were getting misinformation. Well, she
wasn’t lying. We got to the airport and, sure enough, they told us that we would be taking off an hour early. I have absolutely no
idea how people are just supposed to know this. There has to be someone out there who is like me and doesn’t confirm these things
In any case, I must say that this is one small airport. It feels like I’m looking at something the size of a football field right now.
There is one runway. So it’s a bit funny when they tell you that you’re leaving from Gate 1 (as opposed to just ‘The gate’ or
something like that).
I didn’t do any shopping out here but I am taking home a souvenir with me (even though they said not to snag any of the natural
things on the island). Though my souvenir is not coming back with me by choice. It’s just something that I am stuck with.
Literally…as there is still a small piece of sea urchin stuck in me. Leave it up to me, huh???
|Diving in the Polynesian waters.