Easter Island

Sunset at Ahu Tahai... ...we sat there, mesmerized long after the sun disappeared over the horizon!

Sunset at Ahu Tahai… …we sat there, mesmerized long after the sun disappeared over the horizon!

Dates visited: April 13, 2014 – April 17, 2014

I must have been 10 when I saw pictures of the Easter Island heads (moai statues), and ever since then I’ve harbored the dream of seeing them in person. Plus, knowing that Easter Island is one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands also added to the allure. Easter Island (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is little less than 2400 miles from Santiago (5h 40m by flight)! It was a spectacular trip… …something that I always wanted to do, and (bam!) there I was!! There’s so much history and mystery to the island, its culture and of course, the moai statues, that it’s worth it to hire a private tour guide and just soak in all that information. After learning about these huge monoliths—how and why they were carved, and how they might have been moved up to 12-15 miles to their final destination—it was heartbreaking to learn that the islanders themselves toppled the standing moai after their civilization broke down.

There’s just one village—Hanga Roa—on the entire island, and that’s about it! Welcome to island life, laid back culture, getting followed by stray dogs and being woken by roosters… …where time comes to a standstill.

My best site was visiting Rano Raraku—a volcanic crater that served as a quarry for carving 95% of the islands moais. The view of so many moais staring at you as you walk around them gave me the chills. I never knew that the huge heads jutting out of the ground have the rest of the torso buried in the ground. It was a spectacular sight being in the midst of where the action took place for about 500 years until the early eighteenth century.

My second favorite site was Orongo village (of the birdman cult) for the incredible expanse of the blue Pacific ocean and the stupefying view of Rano Kau (another volcanic crater). While the moai statues at Ahu Tongariki, Te Pito Kura and Vinapu were equally splendid, the Rapa Nui dance performance by the Ballet Kari Kari group edged all of them for their athletic bodies and awesome grace. Prachi was chosen by the dancers to join them on stage, and she got two minutes of hips-swaying and hands-waving with the muscular and strapping male dancers.

Some moai facts that certainly astounded me:

  • Tallest moai erected: 33 ft tall and weighed 82 tons
  • Heaviest moai erected: weighed 86 tons
  • Unfinished statue: 69 ft tall and weighed 270 tons

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