"" Writer's Wanderings: World Cruise - More of Easter Island

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

World Cruise - More of Easter Island

The Rana Raraku Quarry is on the side of another huge volcanic crater. There are 397 Moai still there in various stages of finished work. They appear to be only heads but that is because the bodies are buried beneath the earth that has accumulated over the hundreds of years they have been there.

This was quite a climb at times to get to the places where there were unfinished Moai left in the side of the volcanic hillside. One place reminded me of the Catholic churches of Europe that have old crypts in their basements with a carved sarcophagus.

It was amazing to imagine the work that went into these and the number of them! I can’t believe they could get one done in less than a couple of years and then to move them so far to set them up had to take considerable time. I asked our guide how the society could survive if all of their efforts went into making Moai. He thought that probably the rest of the population supported the artists who were making the statues by supplying their food. No starving artists sale here.

On the way down we stopped to admire one Moai who obviously had a beard and a bald head and another whose nose reminded me a bit of Bob Hope. Almost to the bottom, our guide asked if we wanted to look at the volcano’s crater. Nine sweaty, panting tourists looked at each other and shook our heads. The guide just smiled. He was probably at least less than half our average ages.
From the quarry we had enough of a drive to cool us down in heavenly air conditioning. The last stop on the agenda was Anakena Beach. When we arrived, we had to squeeze in among a dozen or more larger minibuses and tons of little jeeps that were probably rentals. This was the week of a festival on the island and there were lots of outside visitors and another cruise ship called the Peace Boat which we believed was all Japanese.

The beach was beautiful. The area reminded us of a golf course with a really big sand trap. We walked along a wooden boardwalk past several outdoor restaurants and past a huge tent that was obviously set up for guests of a ship or other visitors perhaps for the festival. There was a troupe of native dancers performing in front of it.

Up on the top of a hill was another ahu or stone platform with several Moai most of whom were sporting hats. These Moai seemed better preserved than the previous ones we’d seen. Perhaps they were a bit more sheltered.

One lone Moai stood a little ways from the group and when we approached it, I immediately recognized it as being familiar. I knew I’d seen pictures of it before. When our guide began to tell the story I understood why. Back in the late 1940s when Thor Heyerdah sailed the Kon-Tiki from Peru to the islands of the Pacific to try to prove that the islands could have been inhabited by Peruvians, he stopped at Easter Island. Together with the locals, he managed to raise this Moai back up to a standing position. It was one of the first to be put on its “feet” again.

Back in the van, we were an exhausted bunch of travelers but marveled at our good fortune to have done it all without the rain that was forecast. It spritzed a little as we made our way back to the harbor for the tender to the ship. Along the way, the road that runs down the middle of the island, we saw lots of cows and horses. The horses all run loose even though they have owners as designated by their brand and several times we had to slow to pass some grazing at the side of the road. The scary one was the bull who was stopped in the middle of the road. He let us pass by with a snort.

Moai raised by Heyerdah
Our tender ride back to the ship was as bumpy as the ride in the morning. It was good to be “home” again especially knowing that a hot shower was only an elevator ride and a few steps away. We dined at Tastes, a specialty restaurant that serves sample dishes like the Spanish tapas. Lamb kabobs, salad, crab dip, sausage on toasted bread, and a couple of delicious desserts satisfied our hunger.

A classical guitarist played his heart out to a smaller than usual group of guests. I’m sure it was due to the long day. Of course our Cruise Director informed us that he was giving us an extra hour that night. I think we all needed it. We set our clocks back and went to bed an hour earlier than usual. The next day was another sea day. Time to catch up with photographs and blogging and that illusive word count for the next book. 

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