Day 1: In an island far far away
Honestly, I wasn’t that excited to head over to Easter Island. I mean, it seemed like such a cool idea and I was amped up by meeting fellow travelers who just came from there. My heart was still stuck in Patagonia and I was bummed out that the weather was bad down south at Torres Del Paine and then the volcanoes were erupting down at the Lake Districts! So maybe it was meant for me to come out to this super remote Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The flight was 5 hours long from Santiago and Easter Island is so remote that other Polynesian islands are thousands of miles away. The airport only flies from Santiago and Tahiti.
My flight with LAN went really well and I comfortably slept on the plane. The airport is really small and it was cool being in an island again. As I was waiting for my bags, a golden retriever (security dog) jumped on the baggage carousel as it started to move with luggage coming out! Everyone was cracking up and taking photos of this show dog. The security guard would tell the dog to get down, but he would jump back up! hahaha From that moment, I felt I was going to like Easter Island! The B&B I am staying at, Aukara had a staff member, Paula come out to the airport to pick me up and greet me with a flower leis! Paula briefly drove me around the island and let me know of places to check out and eat at.
Once we arrived, my room was adorable and I hung up my flower leis. I asked Paula about a cultural show tonight (as the couple I met from Texas highly recommended it) and she called around to see what was open tonight. One of the companies was offering dinner and the show or just the show. I opted to just watch the show and they were going to have a driver pick me up at 9pm. Paula also booked an all day tour of the island tomorrow. In the meantime, I took a quick nap then got up to walk around and see what was good for dinner. I had researched a Japanese restaurant that gets the best reviews of the island and the chef trained 10 years in Japan. Usually, I would not want to do sushi in South America, but wanted to give the place a try.
I arrived at Kotaro when it opened at 6pm and was the only one at the restaurant. Chef Francisco greeted me and I was telling him I hadn’t had sushi since I was in Hong Kong! He gaged what I liked and prepared this yummy sashimi dish with tuna and white fish (all locally caught and handled with care). He had this killer sauce and when I asked him about it, he said that it was a “secret.” I can taste sesame in there (one of my favs) and just need to figure out the rest! haha He also brought over thinly sliced swordfish free of charge for me to try! It was amazing. I also had miso soup and he cooked me up a bowl of veggies as well. I just sat there really enjoying my dinner and sipping on green tea. I actually didn’t want to leave until I realized I was planning to watch a show tonight! I wanted to come back to the restaurant the next 2 days I was here, but sadly didn’t have the time. =( I really want to thank Chef Francisco for the awesome chats and amazing food!
I headed back to the hotel and waited for the bus to pick me up at 9pm. They were a bit late, but it was fine. We arrive at the show early and the staff members were painting clay on our faces and gave us complimentary drinks as we wait for the Rapa Nui show. So the show was beginning and the room was quite small which was good. The shows I saw in Thailand and Cambodia were huge, so it was nice to see this smaller and intimate (wait for it) show. Ok the narrator (bigger guy) comes out dressed in traditional Rapa Nui outfit– come grass and feathers.. leaves little to the imagination! Then this hot guy comes out wearing something so scantily clad that you know he had to wax! He was touching his legs and talking about his clay markings in the Rapa Nui language. I was just like Goddamn!
Later in the show, more buff scantily clad hot guys come out! They then do their cultural dance and also women come out too. I liked how the women were different shapes and sizes. Every size from a tall thin woman to a shorter rounder woman. I really liked that and they all can move no matter the size! But my eyes (as well as the other women’s) were on the hot guys.. GEEZ! Later in the show, they came down and dragged us all on stage to dance! At the end of the show, we got to take pictures and all the women were running over to the hot almost naked guys and their buff bodies LOL
Sushi and hot men? Ok Easter Island, we’re off to a great start!
Day 2: Nice to meet you Moai!
In the morning, my water was not hot at all! I had to ask one of the employees to help fix it. Since I was running late, I had to take a cold shower and that was totally NOT fun! I guess I needed a cold shower from looking at the hot sweaty men the night before? haha The staff said they would fix it asap, but I was worried that I wouldn’t get hot water at all (I haven’t had this problem since Phuket Thailand). The island itself isn’t hot, so not sure if I can handle another cold shower! Thanks hot guys from last night!
After my cold shower, breakfast was prepared for us in the kitchen. I met 2 Americans (Mark and Ryan), a Dad and a Son who make the effort to travel together despite living in different states (the son is in Texas and the dad is in Wyoming). They were nice and really chatty. Also staying at the B&B was a solo male traveler from Japan, Jun. He too is taking a trip around the world for 100 days and started in the states, then South America, and then Europe! I am SO JEALOUS because he started in April and I was wrapping up my adventure sometime in May. I can now live vicariously through his Facebook page to see all his adventures.
The tour agency, Kia Koe, picked me up in the morning and I assumed it was going to be humid and hot in Easter Island, but it was actually very windy! And guess what I was wearing? A pair of shorts and a t-shirt! Hey at least I didn’t wear flip flops to complete the total tourist look! THANK GOODNESS I had my hoodie in my backpack because those windy moments got real cold. For today, our guide Christian explained our itinerary for today: Vaihu, Ahu Akahanga, Volcan Rano Raraku, Ahu Tongariki (15 Moai), Ahu Te Pito Kura, Ahu Nau Nau and Anakena.
We headed out towards the ocean first to see Vaihu, the faced down Moa. I was actually pretty captivated by the ocean and the loud crashing waves. It’s crazy to imagine I’m in such a remote island right now. Next up was Ahu Akahanga to see more ocean views and see more toppled over Moai’s. After that was Volcan Rano Raraku where I got to see Moia that were face up for once! I admit, the green lush hills and blue blue sky that lay as a backdrop to these Moai were pretty impressive.The Moia are made of volcanic rock and are softer to carve versus using a type of stone. I took a bunch of shots and we had some free time to hike around which I definitely did and took some great shots. We also had our lunch at this location (I opted for their chicken which wasn’t that bad). I also discovered this yummy banana bread called poe (but seemed like it was made with rice flour) which I need to look up how to make!
Up next on the itinerary was the famous 15 standing Moai. This was pretty awesome to see and I heard that the sunrises on this side of the island so I wanted to make an effort to get out here for sunrise to take some killer pictures! Next up was Ahu Te Pito Kura which was basically a large rock fenced in by other rocks. The rock is supposed to possess special powers by the Gods and help women with fertility. Christian doesn’t believe all that stuff and just kinda snubbed it as something tourists want to see! Ahu Nau Nau was up next and this was cool because the Moia were wearing the famous red hats! I was told later that the hats were supposed to be their hair. This was nice to see and after that, we headed out to one of the only sand beaches in Easter Island, Anakena. We had some free time to snack and also enjoy the beach before we called it a day.
Since I had the night open, I walked over to the main street and had REALLY good ceviche for dinner! It was probably the best I had in South America! Once I was done with my ceviche, I headed to Hanga Roa to capture some sunset Moai shots! Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to capture some good shots so I figured I’ll come back the following night since it was a 15 to 20 minute walk from my hotel. On my way home, I noticed there were a good amount of Japanese people here and remembered that Christian mentioned the Japanese paid millions of dollars to help restore the moai. They even sent a moai to Japan and many Japanese came out to see it and hence built up the tourism even more in Easter Island.
Day 3: When in Chile..
Well first off, the Rapa Nui people DO NOT consider themselves as Chilean. They actually do not like the Chilean people and they consider themselves as Polynesian. But since it’s technically part of Chile and Chile has the 2nd most volcanoes in the world (Indonesia has the first), it was time to see a volcano! I liked my tour yesterday and decided to do another tour today with Kia Koe. This time, we see the north and west parts of the island. Our guide Anna picked me up along with other people. I noticed the annoying older Spanish man from my group yesterday was in my tour today. Boo! I call that old guy annoying because he made some comment in Spanish and asked if I was with some solo Japanese guy from our tour yesterday. I shook my head no and then me made a yucky face which I thought was incredibly rude because the Japanese guy might have seen him! And its like, we didn’t even talk to each other so why the eff would you assume something like that? OH because we are both Asian?! I avoided that old man like the plague.
For the itinerary today we visit: Anakai Tangata, Volcan Rano Kau, Orongo (then we have a lunch break) and start up again with Ahu Akivi, Caverna Te Pahu and Puna Pau. First up we visit the cave at Anakai Tangata which was cool, but the real scene stealer for the whole island (in my opinion) was the volcano! We then head up to see Volcan Rano Kau and once you look at the crater, it’s seriously mind blowing! I was at awe because I have never seen a volcano this close up and THIS beautiful. Its basically a large shallow crater with little lakes of water inside. I mean the moai are really great, but this just blew my mind. What can I say? I think I have this strong affinity for natural wonders now! This volcano alone was worth coming out to Easter Island.
It’s funny because people kept messaging me or asking about the volcanos since I arrived in Chile (which wasn’t anywhere close to me). For some reason, I wasn’t scared at all. It’s like an earthquake in California to me. Its bad to think that if I actually saw a volcano erupt, I would have some AMAZING photos! Well the volcano I saw was extinct, but still spectacular! Next up we saw a stone village and ceremonial centre, Orongo. The details were really nice with these tiny doors! The “birdman” competition also took place at the tiny islands across the way. I really like this part of the island, really beautiful to look at.
We had a lunch break until our tour picked back up and I decided to try the empanadas out here. So I ordered 2– their recommended tuna/cheese and the carne one. Ok so when the empanadas came out they where HUGE! Like the total of 6 Argentine empanadas! I really like the crust of the empanada but wasn’t crazy about the fillings. The tuna and cheese tasted as weird as it sounds. For the carne (I notice this is a Chilean thing), they use like a meat stew for the filling which I do not like. I ended up taking it home, then later feeding it to one of the fat stray dogs (I couldn’t find a skinny one!)
So the second part of our tour starts up and Anna takes us to Ahu Akivi, Caverna Te Pahu and Puna Pau. We head north to Ahu Akivi with the seven moai, all the same size. Anna said the moai are facing towards Polynesia (their home), looking out to the pacific ocean. That kinda made me sad bc I know the Rapa Nui people are having problems with Chileans and I’m sure want to be on their own as Polynesians. We then head out to see a cave, Caverna Te Pahu which was really close by. After checking out the cave, we drive south to Puna Pau. Anna brought over loafs of bread and a big bottle of water for her stray dogs that hangout in the area! They were so cute and she has dish bowls for them! Again, I love how the South Americans love animals. Puna Pau has these rolling green hills with this amazing blue blue sky. The small craters there are used for carvings of the moai “hat” and used for other sculptures. I really enjoyed my 2 days of tour to see all of the wonders of the island! It worked with my scheduled since I am only staying for 3 nights.
At night, I was still full from the empanada so I couldn’t fit anymore ceviche or Japanese food in me! I decided to walk over to Hanga Roa again to see the sunset one last time. While there, I ran into the couple from Switzerland in my tour group yesterday. I also kept seeing Jun, the Japanese guy from my hotel numerous times around the island. It’s funny because I kept running into the same people all the time. Ok, so the clouds were still there, but it wasn’t as bad as yesterday. I was able to get some decent sunset shots. Walking back, I also took some pictures of the beautiful cemetery there and just admired the ocean. I couldn’t believe it was my last night already and I leave tomorrow afternoon.
Day 3: What I’ll remember most
I didn’t dare take a shower today because yesterday’s water was still cold! UGH Since I had issues with the hot water, I asked Bene (one of the owners of the B&B I was staying at) if he can drive me to Ahu Tongariki in the morning so I can see the sunrise with the 15 moai. We both negotiated a good price and away we went! Bene was funny because his English was limited and he told me I can only speak to him in Spanish! haha We get there by 7:30am (sunrise) and it was still super cloudy. There were people there, but they started leaving probably because of the clouds. The only people that stuck around were me and a group of Japanese people! hahaha
I had to wait till like almost 9:00am to get a peak of sun emit through the clouds. I was able to get some shots in, but was kinda disappointed. Bene then took me to meet a local couple because the wife was Filipina LOL They were nice and told us that the sun comes out late here. Geez, the sun rises late here and the sun sets early! I wonder if this changes in their warmer weather. On the way back, we saw a pretty rainbow and Bene showed me the art gallery of his work and Ana Maria’s (his partner and the owner of the B&B). They were also featured in an issue of National Geographic which I thought was cool! I then ate a late breakfast and went to hop in the shower to FINALLY take a HOT shower! WAHOOOO!!! I took a long one too to make up for the 2 days of cold showers.
I went to walk around the main street one last time before Leo (Ana Maria’s son in law) dropped me off at the airport. I was actually a little sad to leave and Leo gave me a shell necklace as a going away gift! I tried to tip him when he dropped me off but he wouldn’t accept it and told me that he was happy I came out to visit the island. Ohhhh my heart, it hurts! These Rapa Nui people are just so beautiful and kind. I’ll always remember them for that!