I had an amazing time in Easter Island, and it was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I saw the infamous moai heads, ate fish off of banana leaves and drank from a freshly picked coconut (picked by a man in a thong i might add) on the beach.
On our first day of our marvelous journey about 30 exchange students boarded a plane at 9 in the morning headed westward for paradise. we arrived at noon local time (making the plane ride about 5 hours) and ate lunch before heading out for our first visit to one of the many volcanoes. Much like Hawaii, Easter island is formed by volcanoes and very secluded. It wasn’t discovered until the 1600’s by The Netherlands. We hiked up the volcano, where we learned about the bird man and the traditional egg fetching ceremony. We saw the typical dwellings and saw a lake inside a volcano that has 0 known animal species living inside of it. After climbing the volcano, of course we had to come back down. They took us to one of the caves where there are a few cave paintings left.
Our second day started with a tip to where the Moai (or giant easter island heads) are made. They are carved out of the solid rock of the mountainside and then moved to a standing up position to have the final details added, and then they would be moved to their final place. Many people think that the Moai are just heads, but they are actually made from the torso up, and the mountain side just eroded and buried most of the statues chin deep. One of the ways that the Rapa Nui cultures difffers from that of Hawaii is that the Moai do not represent gods like the tiki gods. It is believed that the Moai represent prominent people in the leadership system of ancient times on the island. After the mountain side, we whet to the place where the most famous pictures of Easter Island are taken. There are 21 completed Moai all lined up and it is the largest gathering of completed Moai on the island. We spent about an hour there taking pictures, then we moved on to lunch, where they cooked meat and fish over an open fire and served the meat on a leaf with a side of camote, the typical potato grown on the island with a suprisingly sweet taste.
On the third day we had the morning free for buying souvineers, then in the afternoon we went spelunking in one of the island’s many caves formed by old lava tubes. We saw more Moai and learned that all of the moai statues that we saw (excluding those in the process of being built) were all reconstructions. There had been a war on the Island that almost wiped out all of the native people, and in a form of disrespect for the other tribes people would push over the others statues and when the Island was finally discovered there wasn’t a single standing Moai.
Our last full day spent on the Island began early, with horseback riding to the top of the largest volcano. We showed up and had people in our group who had never even ridden a horse before, and they gave us each a horse with stirrups tied on with twine and no head protection then sent us off in the proper direction. It was quite the event, and believe it or not only one person fell off, and it was his own fault. The views were gorgous and me and Larry (named by yours truly) was quite the companion. After a tiring day of horseback riding we had a quick nap then were treated to the privilege of watching traditional dances performed by the locals. after eating a meal cooked traditionally in a hole. We got our faces painted and were taught one of the dances that they performed for us.
It was an amazing experience and a gift to be able to participate in so many parts of their beautiful culture. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have seen such amazing wonders at such a young age.