Thanksgiving on Easter Island
Across the Pacific, a 5 hour and 40 minute flight from South America…Rapa Nui. Easter Island is only about 9 miles wide. And thousands of miles from other land. Moai statues haunt the land in an open-air museum.
We’re Thankful to see it!
Sunday, November 25, 2007: Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island is only 64 square miles, and is miles from everywhere. We landed on this tiny spot in the Pacific Ocean, 2,500 miles from Santiago in the late evening. We were met by Josie and Alex–our guides who both have personal connections to the island–who greeted us with pink leis and Pisco Sours. We are here on a National Geographic extension with 3 other passengers from the Endeavor-Antarctica cruise.
We saw moai, moai, moai (Pronounced “MO-eye”). Enormous carved stone statues-many restored to their Ahu platforms over the past 40 years and hundreds more abandoned before they ever made it to ahus. It’s really quite surreal to see them scattered about–some face down where they fell and others standing proud, most with backs to the ocean.
Funny how they kind of looked like penguins. Guess it’s all about perspective ?
(In all seriousness, we learned a lot about the island’s history. Our guides were phenomenal and the experience excellent.)
We celebrated Thanksgiving at Rano Raraku…a picnic BBQ after hiking through the partially carved stone statues and seeing the volcano lake at the top.
On Friday, we turned on the TV-getting the one channel. On the news we saw photos of icebergs, Zodiacs, and heard something about a rescue and National Geographic. We couldn’t make it out. Later in the day, we heard that the Endeavor was sinking–having hit a submerged iceberg. We were devastated. I can’t describe how stunned we were thinking that our beautiful ship with all those fantastic people was in distress. For a painful 3 hours, we walked in a daze through the moai sites. And then, we drove into the Hanga Roa hotel parking lot so I could log on to CNN for any news. Turns out, the sinking ship was actually GAP Adventures’ Explorer. All passengers were rescued–safely aboard Nord Norge after a few hours in lifeboats on open water. The poor red ship went over on her side, and sank some 15 hours after the accident. All the emotions: relief for the Endeavor, thankfulness that we were safe, sadness for those travelers/crew…it was a strange, emotional day. And I’ve never felt more Thankful for our safety, warmth and luck.
So, what else can I say about Easter Island? There are more horses than people. 4,000 horses run pretty much free. There are at least as many dogs–most of german shepherd ancestry. Are they strays? Free range? I ended up carrying bits of food around to feed the skinny dogs.
The island smells of maple syrup and curry. The seed pods of a wild grass that grows in clumps sound like wooden chimes in the wind. Rain comes and goes–fast. Rainbows. And we ate well–the cerviche at La Taverne du Pecheur, the Chilean wines, Bryan liked the Escudo beer. Great coffee too.
It was a fantastic place. And now, we’re on our way home. Looking forward to fresh clothes, our own bed and-of course-hugging our pups.
See you all soon!
Carol and Bryan