#935298 by honey lamb
17 May 2017, 19:04
Easter Island was amazing! How about a quick trip around the place before I get on to the flight?

After our severely delayed flight, it seemed that the travel gods were still not appeased as the rain returned and the hotel’s free wifi was non-existent! However, after a nice meal in a nearby restaurant and a good night’s sleep, we awoke to sunshine and a promise of things to come.

Our first task after a lovely cooked breakfast (there was a different breakfast every day; an omelette on the first day, bacon, eggs and mushrooms on the second and banana crepes on the third day each beautifully garnished with fresh fruit) was to organise tours round the island. Edith, our delightful Rapa Nui hostess arranged them and suggested that we join up with a Canadian couple who were due to land at midday as it would be cheaper if there were four of us. We assented and she arranged an afternoon trip on one side of the island and a full day trip on the following day. In the meantime, while we awaited their arrival she suggested we go and buy tickets for entry to the sites. At the ticket office we learned that the whole of Easter Island is a National Park but a ticket is needed to gain access to some of the sites of the statues which are called Moai. I think that there were about five or six places in all where we had to show them.

On our way back we noticed an interesting phenomenon - people in the public parks were all hunched over their devices and we realised that there was free wifi in these public areas (and in some of the restaurants you could also piggy-back on it!) As the wifi in the hotel still had not been resolved we headed back to the hotel before repairing to the nearest park to find out what was happening in the world beyond! In the fullness of time we returned to the hotel to await the arrival of our companions whose flight into the island was fortunately not delayed. We were on our porch when they arrived and found that they were to stay in the adjoining chalet which shared the porch. We had been told they were Canadians but their accent wasn’t a strong one. They told us that they were from Toronto but then added that he was born in xxxxx and she had gone to live there when she was a teenager. I blinked and blinked again. They were in the middle of a conversation with Chris but I interrupted, “Sorry, but did you say he was born in xxxxx?” She confirmed it was so. “Xxxxx in the UK?”, sez I. “Yes”, sez she. “I was born there!” sez I. There was a flurry of excitement as we swapped details. He had lived within about a 3 mile radius of where I grew up and her step-sister had gone to my school. I had come to the most remote inhabited island in the world to meet someone who was virtually a next-door neighbour!! Of course after that we were all firm friends for the duration of the trip!

Our guide for the two days was Terry, a young Rapa Nui man who had lived in Denver for a number of years so there was no problems with language. The island is virtually bisected by the runway which is 4 kilometres long and was extended as an option for the Space Shuttle if necessary.
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The runway with Hanga Roa behind it
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For our half day tour it was to be on the smaller southern part. On this part of the island there were very few statues and the really significant one was that of a female since the majority were male - typical!! Instead we saw many of the dwelling places of the early inhabitants which were not dissimilar to constructions in pre-historic Ireland.
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On our return to our hotel we passed an all-inclusive hotel which was built on that model. I was so glad we weren’t booked in there.
We also saw an island in which an event not dissimilar to a triathlon (though minus the cycling bit) took place to determine the leadership of the tribe.
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The contestants were required to swim over and bring back the egg of a bird which nested there. The winner became leader, the losers were killed (and possibly eaten!) Some sensibly stayed on the island but because the egg could possibly be broken or lost others struggled on. Having been told this, one of our Canadian friends asked what did they gain if they won. My answer? They got to eat the egg!

The following day we got to see the many statues which had been erected around the island. They are HUGE!
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They are nearly all on coastal sites but face inward and are said to overlook and protect the villages where their future generations lived. We could see evidence of the dwelling places which were boat shaped
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but possibly covered with vegetation which did not survive. Most of them had toppled but there had been a restoration project starting with the arrival of Thor Heyerdal.

We also went to the quarry where most of the statues were carved. Some had been abandoned in mid-carving because of a different rock-type reached and others never made it to their final sites and at this stage had sunk into the ground. In one of them which had been documented before it had sunk into the ground was at least 12 metres below the surface!
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While we were there, the sky changed and it began to rain. We avoided the first shower by sheltering under an overhang in part of the quarry and when it had passed, we headed off once more to view the crater of an extinct volcano. Halfway there the wind changed and the rain returned in full force. Somewhere along the line I had become separated from the others. I had slithered, and the Canadian guy told me to take it easy and he would tell the others before disappearing around a bend. At that point the heavens opened and the rain poured down! I tried a few steps but the reality was that there was a steep incline upwards on one side and a sharp drop on the other and nothing to which I could catch hold for purchase. In other words, I was stuck in the mud!! And it was pouring with rain which rapidly seeped through my clothes. All I could do was stand there and laugh at my plight. At least I knew they would be coming back the same way and after about 15 minutes Terry came round the corner, pulled me from the mud and handed me through the now very soggy ground back to where our van was parked. Fortunately we had brought towels in case we had wanted to swim but the weather put paid to that and so I stripped off my outer garments and swathed myself in towels just before the rest returned! They had managed to shelter under trees nearer the crater. After that, it was back to the hotel for showers and to our great surprise the wifi was back. At the beginning of our stay there had been three ladies staying at the hotel on the other side of the hotel. They had left that morning and we guessed, probably correctly, that they had hogged all the bandwidth!

Ok, so now to the flight proper!

Our Canadian friends were booked on the same flight as us and so we shared the hotel shuttle to the airport. In truth, it was so near to the town and to where we were staying that we could easily have trundled our bags and walked there! At the airport there was a long line of cars and vans depositing people for the flight (all of whom like us, could have walked there!) and having bade farewell to our host for the duration, we joined the long queue to enter the airport. In fairness it moved quickly and on entry we had to have all our bags scanned, carry-ons and handbags included. Immediately in front of us was a family of five with Brazilian tags on their bags. The youngest, a boy of about 7 or 8, was extremely lively, dodging in and out of the line and quite frankly, getting in our way. A couple of times he bumped into us and on one occasion he nearly got hit as I was trying to manoeuvre my bag on to the belt. Mum and Dad were too pre-occupied with their bags to notice his hyperactivity and so he went unchecked. From there it was over to check-in. The line was long but suddenly one of the check-in agents, realising that many of them were part of a group booking, called them to one side and all of a sudden, we were at the head of the queue. This time we were flying economy (the business class seats on the outbound had been a glitch for which we were grateful!) and had booked into 19A and C. Again, as they were separate bookings and not linked we were separated and I was in an aisle seat on the opposite side of the aircraft to the A seats and Chris was several rows behind me on the opposite side of the plane! So much for seat assignments! This was my third flight since leaving from LHR and none of my requests had been honoured!! At this stage Chris and I decided to suck it up and headed back to the departures area where we perused the shops, including one outside the main terminal building where cars were still depositing passengers for check-in. Really there was nothing new to be seen. Most of the souvenirs are of moai, turtles and the ubiquitous teatowels, shirts, t-shirts and the usual stuff you get in souvenir shops so we decided to go through security which was very low-key and easy peasy.

The departure lounge was quite plain. There was a snack bar, toilets and little else……

…...not even a wall to separate the lounge from the tarmac!
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Oh there were bushes and a small garden with a boundary wall but anyone could have negotiated these and made their way to the aircraft but we were a very well behaved load of passengers. The inbound flight arrived and escorted to the enclosed area we had occupied a few days before and we watched as the plane was cleaned and re-catered. The signs were put up to create three lines for boarding; business class, rows in the middle of the aircraft and rows at the back. As in Santiago, these rows were patrolled to ensure no-one was queue-jumping. In spite of the open plan of the airport, we were brought down a long corridor to a gate whence we crossed the tarmac and up the stairs!

I was in an aisle seat and a family of five was there before me, all squabbling over who would sit next to mum or dad. My heart sank as I recognised it as the Brazilian family ahead of me at the security point at the entrance to the airport - and it sank even more when I realised that the youngest member who had been so troublesome there was going to be next to me. However in all fairness, he wasn’t a problem throughout the flight and he behaved beautifully, especially as he had won the battle and had mum sitting next to him! Mums rock!
After take off, (which was on time) I tried to access the IFE as there had been a couple of films I wouldn’t have minded seeing and had saved them for the return journey. Ooops! Bad decision. Apparently the IFE in economy was accessed via a downloaded app, which I hadn’t come across before and so, apart from the map, was inaccessible to me. Junior next to me was fully prepared and spent the time playing games and watching movies - clever kid but he made me feel I was in the Dark Ages!! Still I had my iPad and happily read during the journey.

The drinks round was combined with the meal round and the offering was lasagne or Ican’trememberwhat! Like my Ethiopian Airlines flight, there were no spirits offered in economy so a very drinkable red wine was offered and accepted. The meal was palatable and really there is nothing more to say about it. The flight was unremarkable other than that the toilets on one side of the aircraft were out of order which resulted in long queues for same but as I neither needed them nor were they on my side of the cabin, it did not impact on me in any way.

We arrived slightly ahead of schedule and I hooked up with Chris again. He undertook to collect the bags while I went to book the shuttle to take us to the airport hotel we had booked as the following morning we were to fly to the Atacama Desert. Santiago Airport is chaotic and we were rapidly beginning to hate that place. We had been told which door to go to to find our shuttle but the reality is you have to fight your way through hordes of people looking for their pre-booked taxis or shuttles as well as dodging the taxi drivers who were touting for custom from those who hadn’t the presence of mind to book a taxi inside the airport. Eventually we found the dispatcher for the shuttle and soon were checking in to our hotel where a couple of G&Ts and a nice meal awaited.

To be continued…...
#935329 by hiljil
18 May 2017, 11:29
Thank you for a really interesting & very different TR. What a wonderful place to be able to visit . It Is amazing how comparatively often these coincidences meeting "familiar" people in far flung places seem to happen !

I wasn't at all surprised to read that you managed to get stuck in the mud .....glad it ended well !
#935595 by tomthumb
28 May 2017, 09:12
Fantastic Trip Report as always
#935625 by pjh
29 May 2017, 08:30
Great TR. What great adventures!
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