Enchantment on Easter Island

This moai is a re-creation, erected to demonstrate what a complete moai would have looked like, complete with red top hat and gemstone eyes.

This moai is a re-creation, erected to demonstrate what a complete moai would have looked like, complete with red top hat and gemstone eyes.

We took a tour of the Birdman sight. It was our first day on the island and we were looking for orientation. Our guide was great, showed us the volcano and took us to the sight. Then we toured some other features of that piece of the island.

Speaking of the Birdman competition, it happened once every year. It involved prominent men from around the island swimming across shark infested waters to the tiny islet of Motu Nui where the terns returned to nest every year. The objective was to secure the first tern egg of the season and return it to his patron in Orongo. The one who received the first egg became the leader for the next year. Many of these noblemen died from shark attacks, drowned in the rough waters or fell from the cliffs. The new leader could not cut his hair or his nails for the next year, as he lived in solitude and studying enlightenment. The village of Orongo faced Moto Nui, and the prospective leaders lived there awaiting the retrieval of the first egg. The view takes your breath away. The cool breezes enhance the enjoyment of the history, culture and the view.

We spent 5 nights on Rapa Nui and felt like we saw everything. We went to almost all of the locations of the moai, the giant statues. One of the most awesome days, we rose before dawn to see the largest altar of moai framed by the sunrise. We went to the beach, and visited more moai there. We slowed and stopped for passing wild horses and cattle. Amazingly enough, it seemed as though we were always alone on the road, except for the moai and the animals.

One of the most spectacular locations we visited, after our 15 moai sunrise event, was the quarry from which all of the moai were carved. Nearly all the moai on the island were carved from solidified volcanic ash at a quarry site on the side of the extinct Rano Raraku volcano. The carvers used basalt stone hand chisels, with many teams working on different statues at the same time. However, a single moai took a team of 5-6 men about a year to finish. Each statue represented the deceased head of a family ancestry line.

Only one quarter of the statues were ever installed, with nearly half still remaining at the quarry site and others sitting along the way to their intended locations. Their heads are strewn all over the side of the steep mountain. One of the very fascinating things that we learned is that in order to bring the moai down the volcanic hillside and transport them around the island, they needed trees. Eventually they cut down all of the trees on the island. Island wars ensued and the warring tribes tore down the moai of their enemies.

We loved our time on Easter Island, Rapa Nui. The Catholic church is a wonderful mix of Catholicism and native culute. The people were very friendly, we had some great food, sushi and fish for the most part. We could walk anywhere in the town of Hanga Roa, the only real town. Paul says that it’s a must not miss if you can get there. A little on the expensive side, but seeing this island and the moai is definitely one of the highlights of our Vagabond life.

Back to the states! I can hardly keep up with this I’m having so much fun. I hope you will stay tuned as we are headed to Scandinavia for three months. Skol!