Moai on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Monday, September 8, 2014

Easter Island, Part II

One of the volcanic craters on the island.
Grass and water patterns in the crater.
The ticket I bought for Easter Island was actually the second one that I’ve purchased in the last three years.  I started this blog before I drove to Alaska in spring of 2012 and had big plans of spending a year in South America and that included a few days in Easter Island.  But those plans were thwarted by going to Antarctica.  So finally two years later I made it to Easter Island.

Moai just outside of the town of Hanga Roa
After exploring Hanga Roa, the only town on the island, during our first day there we decided to take a tour to get an idea of the layout of the island and to get some of the history.  Next time (if there is a next time) I go on a tour I’m going to make sure it is in English.  That should have been one of the first questions we asked when it was booked, but somehow the excitement of being in a few place allowed us to overlook that little detail.  Luckily, there was a Danish girl named Thea on the tour that day and she was more than happy to translate for us.  She’d studied in Chile so the Chilean Spanish was no problem for her.  Amusing that a Danish girl was translating from Spanish to English and neither of those were her first language.

Our tour guide for the day.
The tour was a good way to get out and see the island and plan places that we wanted to come back to on our own with time to photograph.  So the next day we rented a car to explore some evening, night and morning light on the other side of the island.  Photos from that will be in the next post.

The people on Easter Island were some of the friendlier people that I’ve met in South America.  I wasn’t sure what to expect in this because Easter Island seems to be caught in a struggle between maintaining its own cultural identity and governance while still being a part of Chile.  Infrastructure such as the modern-ish hospital and schools are only possible because of money from mainland Chile and tourism.  I might be wrong in assuming this, but I bet many of the native people view tourism and being a part of Chile as necessary evils in having the life that they currently live.  But they are also constantly fight to keep the traditional Rapa Nui traditions, language and remote island identity alive.

Like any other small island a sense of relaxation prevailed everywhere.  This was much needed after a long summer of constantly being on the road and many weeks of traveling before settling in Antarctica again for a few months.   We had a good balance of relaxation and making the most of our time to get some fun photos.  What is it about an island that breeds relaxation?

One of the original kneeling moai, before they started making the giant heads. 
Unfinished moai in the quarry. 
I wrote this a few days ago on a flight back to Bozeman.  Flight 42 of 55 this year.   I was sitting next to a nice German lady, who is visiting Yellowstone and the Tetons for the first time.  There happened to be a lot of Germans on that flight and she didn’t know why.  We started talking about travel as I pointed out the Grand Teton and Yellowstone Lake through the plane window.  I explained my recent travels and next few plans she asked if I worked for an airlines or something and how I traveled so much.  I paused for a second and never really came up with a good answer for her.  It made me think of our new Danish friend, Thea, who translated for us in Easter Island.  Lena and I had talked to her a lot about travel.  She was 22 and was just starting college because she said she had “different priorities than many other people in Denmark.”  I guess my answer to this German woman should have been something along the lines of that.  I don’t have excuses and I don’t have major bills and I have a job that allows me a bit more freedom than most which is why most of my horizons lately have been cloudy skies from a small rectangular window.

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