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Thursday 15 Apr 2010
Easter Island, Chile

Isla de Pascua... Day 5


- On the bike again so gotta try to take in everything I missed the first time. Advantage is that this day also had the best weather so I had to go topless on the bike Tongue out

- First stop was a "quick" revisit to Rano Raraku, the quarry site where they made all the Moai statues. Because it was early, the sun was high up and illuminated Moai that had previously been in the dark, in the mountain's shadow and so I got some excellent shots of these guys and stayed for around 3 hours! Ironically, the Moia that had previously been lit up when I first visited 2 days earlier were now in shadow and weren't photogenic at all. So take note: to get the most of Rano Raraku, arguably the best Moai site, be sure to visit it early and in the afternoon!

- Incidentally the creation and placement of the Moai around the island is ironically what caused the deforestation of the island (which was once 90% covered by palm trees). The palm trees were cut and used as rollers for the Moai, but once crushed after rolling a few metres another tree had to be cut. Deforestation led to soil erosion, which led to less food for the growing population (catching most fish was tapu, forbidden by all except the king), which led to fighting, which led to the birdman cult, which led to destroying of the Moai, which led to more fighting and cannibalisation (I'd say they started eating pretty well at that point)

- I also visited the lake inside the Rano Raraku volcano crater, which made for some great shots, and then photographed some wild horses on the way out. Wild horses populate this island everywhere, but equally maltreatment of other horses seems to be prevalent and you often come across horses struggling to stand on their legs, foaming at the mouth. "That horse is finished" seems to be a common sentence here. Sad really. Horses were introduced by Europeans incidentally. What it must have been like for the Rapanui to see the first horses arrive...

- Anakena was next. I owed myself a session on the beach. Pure lush! Also happened to come across some guys doing a Rapanui traditional performance for the Rapa Nui Film Festival, and it was amazing to see locals in traditional dress (or lack of dress!) with feather-headress and painted bodies, with Moai in the background. There weren't any tourists around to mess with the illusion, so at that moment I really felt like I was in Polynesia rather than a South American island.

- At this stage it was too late to get back to Hanga Roa to do the dive of the Moai (the locals carved a Moai a few years ago and put it in the sea as a dive site), plus I was having too much fun on the bike in the perfect weather.

- Puna Pau was next... to visit the volcanic crater where the huge red "top-knots" stones were cut for some of the Moai statues and were rolled over land to their final destination sometimes up to 8km away. The "top-knots" were not "hats" as I first thought, but supposed to represent the hair piece of the ancestor being represented by the Moa (they used to wear their long hair up in the top-knot pony-tail).

- Cave exploring. Visited the excellent Ana Te Pahu which was a HUUUUUGE cave complex that seemingly stretches for around 3 or 4km under the island's surface! Taking a torch was essential as when I turned it off after wandering down a large cave for around 30 minutes the place was completely pitch black. When I noticed my torch batteries beginning to weaken I decided it wise to head back, but seriously I could have kept on walking further and further through the large (and often small) cavern. AMAZING... one of the surprising highlights of Easter Island for sure.

- Visited Ahu Akivi for a better photo in the improved light. Ended up buying MORE souvenirs here... I swear I'll have to mail a lot of this stuff home as there's no way I'm under my 20 kg limit anymore!

- Checked out a second night of the Rapa Nui Film Festival (I had gone down just to change my tshirt for a Large, but after walking there was tired so decided to doze in front of a free movie). Being at a cinema on the most isolated place on Earth is unreal Laughing

- Oh yeah.. and.. um.. Hitler's yacht was in the bay (currently owned by a German businessman, but manned by 3 lucky boat-hands that I had met earlier in the day!)

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South America Twenty Ten

Travel blog by peterforan



After previously dipping my toes in Latin America via trips to Cuba and Central America, it's time to go for the big splash! 3 1/2 months to take in as much as I can, armed with little more than my camera, laptop and a few dodgy Spanish phrases.

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