The soulful journeys on one of the most remote islands in the world ... the remote beauty ... the kind people ... the immense knowledge to create such megaliths ... the wonder of it all.
Well, really this photo is not Rapa Nui! It is on the way there so I decided to include the image. We live in Boise, Idaho USA so we had a long flight to get to this amazing island. With all of the layovers it took us about 40 hours. Nothing too major with the flights, we just happened to have long layovers between each of the legs. Boise to Los Angeles, to Lima, to Santiago, to Rapa Nui.
I am one of those lucky people that can sleep on airplanes and on airport floors, my husband, not at all. Yay me!
When you land on this huge run way, after disembarking it's super simple to find the correct line to purchase your UNESCO pass (this is like paying for your pass to get into any state park - most countries have something like this) You must have this pass to see the sites. And, why would you not want to support the glory of this unique place.
All of the images were taken by myself or my husband on various cameras and cell phones - you will notice the difference in quality. Enjoy them all!
I decided to include the (almost) obligatory images of our hotel here because of how lush it all is ... and, yes there are trees.
What you will not find much of on this island are long stretches of sandy beaches. If your idea of a fun vacation is to sit around on hot tropical beaches sipping Mai Tai's, then this is most likely not the place for you. If however, you want to experience an island that is filled with history and stunning imagery, then this World Heritage Site is perfect.
From the airport, to our hotel and around the city, we walked everywhere.
The city is easy to get around, just watch out for the big rain ditches. These run parallel with the sidewalks and, honestly you can't miss them. I guess you could step into these vast troughs, if on your drunken night time walks back to your hotel you take a wrong step. Then you could check out the newly expanded hospital!! Go safe.
Ahu and Maoi at Tahai. This site is a quick walk to the edge of town.
Here's a bit of info on the statues. The Ahu's are the platforms in which the Maoi stand. They are sacred ground. There are small signs in front of the major sites so those are easy to figure out. Now, if you do go off of the beaten path (which I highly recommend) there will not be signs reminding you where not to walk. Be respectful, stay off the Ahu's and Maoi
Sitting watching the sunset, inhaling the salty breeze, feeling the history of seafarers throughout the ages. The bygone times of Polynesian cultures, brought to light by Dutch sailors (Jacob Roggeween, who re-discovered it in 1722 during Easter, Paasch-Eyland of that year), now mixed with Chilean (annexed on 9 September 1888) culture these images of the Maoi bring thoughts of awe and respect.
The sun sets and will rise again tomorrow ... both for myself and a changing culture.
Sunset at Tahai
Left by sheep ranchers, horses roam free.
How does one of the most isolated islands in the world get modern day goods? By cargo ships, of course. This one is patiently waiting for the seas to calm down so the cars and timber and foods and all of the other amenities can be craned on to little boats and brought ashore.
As the surfer will tell you, the harbour is shallow and sharp with lava rock and urchins, so it is not possible for a deep sea cargo ships to get any closer.
The Quarry - well, the main one most people think of.
While this may not look like much, it is a wild fire. Think of how damaging a wild fire is anywhere in the world. Now image a fragile environment where many of the trees and vegetation are already sparce.
This trail is now closed, due to people not being respectful of the maoi. Hey, stop ruining a good thing by being obnoxious.
The above image is the same megalith as the one below ... a photo does not do justice to the immense size of this. It is 5 stories tall.
A place of solitude, fresh water and one of the places on the island that still holds my heart.
The other side of the quarry.
The largest Ahu and Maoi site with 15 restored Maoi. These immense statues (one being the heaviest erected, weighing 86 tonnes) have been toppled by tribal warfare, moved inland by a tsunami in 1960, and rebuilt in the 1990s by a multidisciplinary team are still facing the sunset during summer solstice.
The backside - still watch out for ahu's.
On our hike out of town to the site of Orongo.
Looking back from where we came - Hango Roa.
Imagine being the lucky one to obtain fresh water here? A 1500 foot scramble down and up the Rano Kau volcanic crater.
As the wind howled around us we now know why this ceremonial stone village was built low to ground, is windowless and covered in sod.
The view out of your low lying stone home is the origins of the bird man cult. Men in the village would swim out to these small islands and the first one to bring back the manutara or sooty turn egg unharmed would win the competition.
View from Orongo village looking down the short slops and high cliffs to these islands.
Petroglyphs at the cultural center.
The Maoi from this site, Hoa Hakananai'a, is now living in the British Museum.
See, there are plenty of trees on the island.
We were wind blown and slightly sun burned and feeling peckish from a 4 hour journey to the volcano and Orongo site ... so, yep, I'm thinking it's time for a beer!
The best beer (from a local brewery) and amazing tuna empanada's ... really the empanada's were the BEST, and we ate plenty of them on this trip.
Anakena is one of the two sandy beaches on the island, and the beginning of a brilliant hike.
The hike starts in Anakena, which is a short taxi ride (about 20 meters/12 miles) from Hanga Roa. From Anakena you walk back to Hango Roa along the North West corner of the island ... here are our adventures along the way to Hanga Roa. Seriously, call a local cab company and ask for a ride to Anakena, one way. They know you'll be walking back into town.
These palms are not the original palms to the island.
Maoi at Anakena
These wild dogs were our companions for the entire hike.
We did not ask them to join us, we gave them the distance they required, we allowed them to be what they are; wild dogs, doing wild dog things. They went the whole way with us, barking and clearing anything on the trial - wild horses, chickens and cattle.
Stone territorial markers along the trail - we did not have to get tribal permission as previous Rapa Nui inhabitants would have had to do. On a small island there were tribal rules to follow about borders and land territories. We walked and gave appreciation and respect where our hearts felt appropriate.
The storm was brewing; we could not turn back now. With the clouds turning black and laden with rain we kept walking with our companions.
The skies cleared and we dried; roaming next to the wind blown cliffs and tropical sun.
Housing foundation ... and, now you see him, how you don't.
Really these dogs were always with us!
Rugged coast line with the vast ocean encompassing its artistry.
Seven hot, sunburned, windburned, rain drenched, wild dog pack member hours later, we were back at our hotel.
Caves for protection from waring tribes and continual winds. We were dropped off with our caving tour guide.
We did take two tours with two of the best tour guides on the island. Normally we do not pay for tour guides, however, this time we made the decision to do so, and we were thrilled with the choice. We got great history, private tours from friendly, knowledgable guides and saw exclusive areas on this unique sanctuary. This is the book we used and a link for the tours.
The caving expedition is one of the private tours we took.
Much of the caving tour was above ground ... we had to walk to the many caves dotted along the coast.
Aptly named ... two window cave.
I had never driven a quad before and it's tons of fun ... very different than my motorcycle at home. I'm not sure why my husband insisted that I drive, but I LOVED every minute of him riding bitch.
Ahu Vinapu - extreme precision of stonemasonry. Throughout the ages the sizes and looks of the Maoi changed with different techniques used to make them.
Facing sunrise at Winter Solstice ... and the end of the runway. See, the plane is up there.
We were on the road again.
Where did you think the red topknots came from??? Why Puna Pau, of course.
In later stages of history more decorations were added to the Maoi. As the hair is what holds the Mana or power of the person represented by the Maoi, so too were the Maoi made to show this Mana. In the form of a topknot.
Deserted topknots still holding Mana, waiting ...
The more inland Ahu Akivi has the distinction of being the only site to face sunset during the Spring Equinox and have their back face the sunrise during the Autumn Equinox..
A rare site ... two planes at the airport NASA extended for emergency space shuttle landings (due to the Challenger casualty in 1986 this never occurred.) However, the Concord used the runway during the '90's for their journeys around the world.
Being 1617 miles/2602 kilometers from the next closest airport I know I would not want to meet another plane on the runway during a landing or takeoff.
As this was the plane that would take us back to Chile, and our journey home I felt my heart broaden.
The raw beauty of this island captured my being, I am in your debt.
~Christopher Browder is one of the tour guides we had on this journey (in fact I am still in contact with him and his lovely wife). He has a new hypothesis on how the Maoi were moved. Check that out
~When I travel to new places I like to learn as much as possible about the traditional healing forms from the area as possible. I was lucky enough to be connected with one such person. She is the director/creator/employee of the medicina natural hospital Hanga Roa. To learn more about Lory and traditional herbs of Rapa Nui.
Join me for a fun ride in life ... hiking, music, meditations, motorcycles and travels. Really, I love a good adventure!
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