I think this is the most mysterious place I have ever been. It is just crazy that no one truly knows who built these or why. Having been to Peru, I could definitely see the Inca influence on the base under the Moai. But I have also been to Polynesia, and you cannot deny the Polynesian features. We had an excellent guide whose family has been on the island for generations. She really made sure we had all the facts, but left it up to us to try to figure out the rest.
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what I didn't expect about Easter Island
was the terrific hiking - one can cover the island by foot or bike and spend at least 4 days morving from morning to night. A guide is indespensible - the Rapa Nuis have been tellling some version of their island's story for 40 years now. Go - go now- tourism is growing by leaps and bounds - that isn't a bad thing, but why not experience Easter Island without the crowds?
It is a thrill to visit Easter Island and see the famous moai that were carved from volcanic rock. While on the island, also called Rapa Nui, you can observe many moai standing on their altars. Rarer though are the moai that still have their hats, or topknots attached. These hats were made from red scoria volcanic rock and are more fragile than the rock used to carve the bodies. When adorned with their topknots, these well-dressed moai create memorable impressions.
A good idea if planning a trip to Easter Island is to attend during the annual Tapati Festival. The festival dates vary each year but typically range from the last week in January until the first week in February. Visitors at festival time are treated to carnival type activities, music competitions, dance, theatrical performances and very entertaining sports competitions. For me, the highlight of the festival is the colorful parade with floats. Many of the local residents, like the three marchers shown, participate in the parade. They adorn themselves with paint and various dress to celebrate their heritage. Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui has only about 3,000 residents, but on parade day you will find that they are very proud of their island culture, and have a wonderful spirit.
Until you stand next to these Moai, you can't imagine this place. Rent a car in Hanga Roa and grab a map. Get to the Rano Raraku quarry when they open and you will be the only people there. Once the tour groups arrive, it is time to leave. Anakena Beach and the Ahu Tongariki are all on the same coastal road (only partly paved), so take your time and look for wild Moai along the rocky coast. Dive with Mike Rapu Diving for a look at the underwater Moai (from a movie scene- but still cool).
Late May I became a Moia. That’s right, that’s me posing with the Tongarika Moai. But how did I get there? That’s the story.
On a Thursday in May my daughter called me to say she had bought two tickets to Lima, Peru and that she would meet me there. After recovering from shock, a bit of moaning that I couldn’t do it, I packed and flew down and met her Tuesday evening. We did Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and the Manu Biosphere. After three weeks I told her I was ready to go home and whatever happened to the ocean and beach she promised. She chuckled. After a busy day sightseeing in Lima and drinking Pisco Sours we headed to Lima’s airport at midnight but our flight had been delayed by bad weather. I wondered where in the world we were going to have such bad storms. We finally boarded the plane at 3 A.M. I had almost dozed off when the pilot announced overhead: Welcome to Lan Air flight on route to Easter Island. I sat upright! My daughter laughed. This is one of those unreachable destinations I figured I would never see and yet, I was on my way! That’s how I came to be on the world’s most remote island. In a jeep held together in places with duct tape, my daughter and I experienced the whole island: Ocean, Moai, trails, volcanic tubes and volcanic craters, tropical flowers, rain, crashing surf and lovely island people. Life’s too short not to live such an adventure!