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Stowing Away I stood between two facing mirrors & almost caught a glimpse of infinity, but my bloody head kept getting in the way

Easter Island

CHILE | Tuesday, 9 May 2006 | Views [6125] | Comments [12]

A nomad greeting 15 moai

A nomad greeting 15 moai

Well if you can land the space shuttle on the runway here, it must have pretty good brakes! Running from one side of the narrowest part of the almost triangular Easter island, the airport is wedged between 2 volcanoes at its sides and the sea at each end. I thought Easter island only had 3 volcanoes, but apparently it has 77 (none active). The airport was extended by the Americans as an emergency landing place for the space shuttles. Landing in a Airbus is interesting enough - the runway is quite narrow & the gound is already sloping upwards before the end of the wingtips.

Easter island is fantastic - all you have ever heard and then some. am taking 150+ pics per day. I've visited many ahu (stone platforms that the Moai stand on), and have seen many dozen fallen Moai (the big stone statues) & a few that have been stood up again. (All the Moai on the island had either been deliberatly toppled, and others were damaged by earthquakes & a tsunami, so none had been left standing)

Easter island had also been completely denuded of trees, but there are some small planted forests growing back again, and they are all Aussie gum trees! Its the rainy season here, was raining all day yesterday, adding to the dramatic atmosphere of the rugged volcanic coastline.

Today was wonderfully sunny and I got so see the main quarry where they liberate the Moai from the slopes of the volcano called 'Rano Raraku', and also climbed to the top of the volcano crater for some fantastic views. I will upload some more pics but the one i have took sooo long my budget has run out for today. i will add some more to this blog tomorrow. Please add some comments!

Today I had the best fun i have had for years! I hired a motor scooter and hooned around the island , following every dirt & bitumen road i could find (mind you, there are only 2 main roads, and they don´t even go all around the island, there is a good third of the island that doesn´t have vehicular access). Anyway, despite never haven driven a motorscooter (or motorbike for that matter), I immediately headed up the dirt track that leads up the 2nd biggest volcano (Rano Kau). I had already been to the top up the main track yesterday in a minivan to the Birdman village, so this time I found some small side-track detours and went where no rental motorscooter is meant to go. I came spinning off in a large mud puddle and got completely soaked in mud (did i mention it´s the rainy season?), but still made it to the top of the crater rim for some awsome views of the crater lake, rim and sea.

Rano Kau

Then I did my best to circumnavigate the island following the coast along mostly dirt roads, revisiting a few Ahu I has seen previously, and discovering many more (there are lots of them, bust most are in pretty poor repair and look like a big pile of volcanic stones) Fallen Moai litter the landscape (there are over 700 on the island).I want to the amazing quarry again where the Moai are carved from the rockface, and where you see the classic images of just the big stone head protruding out of a dirt hillside. There are lots of Hawks flying all over the island, they seem to be the dominant bird species.The rental place took the scooter back without a comment, despite it and me caked in dried mud. I guess they are used to that.

What suprises me a lot is how (relatively) recent the Moai and stone villages are. The first small Moai were made around 1100Ad - the same time the Poms were building their first version of Westminister cathederal, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia was built. Each Moai represented an ancestor, and was placed on an Ahu (stone platform) overlooking the village, where it projected it's power (Mana) and protection over the people in the village. That's why all the Moai face inland rather than looking out to sea. Over the next 600 years, more Moai were carved from the quarry at the volcano at the rate of roughly two per year, getting progressively larger & more stylised. The largest Moai (still unfinished in the quarry) is 10 meters long and is estimated to weigh 300 tonnes! The biggest Moai that was actually placed on an Ahu weighs over 90 tonnes - that's a big rock to move over 10km by manpower alone!

You can look up elsewhere to get the full facts & theories, but basically sometime around the 1600's the small island's natural resources became scarce, the last trees were cut down, tribal warfare broke out and the local religion changed from ancestor worship to a birdman cult. Pretty much all the Moai were deliberately toppled, and their white coral eyes were removed, which destroyed their 'Mana'. No new Moai were started and all those in progress were abandoned at the quarry. Many of the stones fom the Ahu's & broken Moai were used to make shelters, burial chambers & crematoriums. The Orongo village of the birdman cult, on top of the volcano, was built by making chambers with thick slate walls and flat roofs topped off with dirt & grass. These were still in use when the first westerners came along. A Dutchman, Jacob Roggeveen, arrived on Easter Sunday 1722 & named it Easter Island for that reason. Others followed, including good old Captain Cook in 1774, and the Frenchman La Perouse in 1786 - hence Easter Island has a 'La Perouse bay' like Sydney does.)

Orongo Village Orongo Village

More soon...


Click to see Google Map of Easter island

Tags: adventures, chile, easter island, moai, motorscooter, rano kau, rapa nui, space shuttle, stowaway, volcanoes

 

Comments

1

You asked for comment

Cant wait to see all, well nearly all of the photos so im guessing around 800 a fair effort. It was great to see the one you have there already, it makes me even greener and I didn't think i could be more jealous but it helps get the mind out of the office blar

Hope it stops raining so you can take more photos.

Are any of the Volcanos smoking?

Take care

TJ

  ME May 9, 2006 1:25 PM

2

I can't believe you're on Easter Island! That's dedicated travelling from the Stowaway. Glad to know you're having fun, the photos are bountiful and that you took a t-shirt with you :-)

  crustyadventures May 9, 2006 1:58 PM

3

Hey!
That's one hell of a photo!

Weird to know you are going ... and then to see you standing there! I also can't wait to see the photo's as I don't reckon we have too many nomads (any?) getting to Easter Island).

Enjoy. And bring us back a souveneir!

  simon_monk May 9, 2006 8:58 PM

4

Can you bring me back one of those garden gnomes?
Just ockie strap it to the back of the plane.
Keep having fun.

  Mark May 9, 2006 11:10 PM

5

Good to hear all O.K. Trust all going well on Easter Island .All well here. The new puppy has arrived at West Ryde. See you soon. Take plenty of photo's. Love Dad & Mum xxx

  Dad May 10, 2006 12:00 AM

6

Great to hear you are enjoying Easter island. I'm getting itchy feet just reading your stories... keep up the good work ;-)

  Julie May 11, 2006 11:58 AM

7

Love Love Love the photos

  Me May 11, 2006 4:36 PM

8

OK, couldn't wait till the weekend.

  Melanie May 12, 2006 10:13 PM

9

Wow ... you are so so lucky! Enjoy it and have a super time. The photos are awesome.

  Sharon May 16, 2006 11:13 AM

10


It is amazing how u pose to see the handiwork of God's creation. I really admire u admiring nature. Have all the fun u need at the Easter Island.

  Mabel May 17, 2007 9:50 PM

11

Thanks for the description. I'm definitely going to have to go to easter island and experience it for myself.

  Gina May 28, 2008 11:34 AM

12

Thanks for the info. I've wanted to make it out there and after reading this, I want to go even more now.

  mike Jun 16, 2008 4:52 PM

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