Were we leaving sunny Santiago to fly five hours for four days of continuous rain? That’s the forecast for Rapa Nui, the Polynesian island we Estados Unidenses know as Easter Island. That’s because a Dutch explorer stumbled upon it on Easter Sunday while cruising the Pacific Ocean. Since Rapa Nui is what the indigenous people call it, that’s what I’m going with.
But as is frequently the case, the weather report was only partially correct. Our rainy arrival date has been followed by two perfectly beautiful days. And so far, it’s looking pretty good for our departure at noon today. We figured it was a sign that the Moai looked favorably upon our visit.
We have probably all seen one or two photos of these iconic statues, but I’m guessing I’m not the only one surprised to learn that there are more than a thousand of these on the island.
The “man bun” must have started here.
So, for those of you wondering what Rapa Nui has to offer, here’s a short, but incomplete, list in no particular order:
1. Enjoy a Dinner Show
This one was complete with pisco sours, indigenous music and dancers, buffet dinner cooked in a pit and a chance to shake your booty with the locals. Yes, there IS a video, but I can’t upload it now. Did I pass up a chance to dance? I think my friends and family know the answer to that!
Much of the Rapa Nui culture is similar to that of the Maori. Made me want to go back to Rarotonga!
For those of you interested in learning WHICH dinner show we attended, I took a photo of one of the worker’s tee shirts. It has everything you need to know written on his back. You’re welcome.
2. Enjoy a gorgeous beach, with great waves, warm water, and soft, soft sand PLUS concessions with fresh pineapples, smoothies and beer. Oh yeah, and a chance to shop for the folks back home.
Remember the ladies I met in the funicular in Santiago? My new best friends, Shirley and Janis, are fun loving and adventurous. The three of us couldn’t pass up a chance to splash in the very bay in which the king of the Rapa Nui (according to legend) first landed.
3. Experience the Rapa Nui Equivalent of Plimoth Plantation minus the people in costume.
What may look like a stone wall is actually a chicken coop. You remove one stone, and out emerges an entire flock.
The wall is bigger than necessary to hold the flock. This was done to confuse rival tribes. It made it harder to find the magic stone that could be removed.
Another interesting structure is this one.
This is a boundary marker. If you cross it without permission from the rival tribe, you could be killed. Sorta like today’s gang warfare.
4. View Fantastic sunrises
Our driver took the five of us willing to get up at 6 AM to view the Moai at Tongariki. As the sun rose, the light changed, giving us gorgeous views of the sky behind the statues.
5. Have an opportunity to relive your childhood.
Remember when 5 or 6 kids piled into the car’s backseat? We were only able to fit 4 adults: Laura, our guide, and two of my new friends, Karen and Janis. Shirley is holding on for dear life in the front seat as José goes flying across the island. As for me, I’m doing what I usually do: taking pictures.
6. Get a Cool Passport Stamp
7. Learn about the Birdman Culture
I’ll let you read about the birdman competition on your own–I’ll just show you the island to which the competitors had to swim. More importantly, I’ll share the info our guide related to us. The chieftain of the winning tribe got to rule the island for one year. The COMPETITOR, however, did not end up empty handed. HIS reward was SEVEN pure women. How did he know they were pure? A “doctor” crawled between their legs, looked up and made sure everything was in order. If it wasn’t, that “impure” girl got tossed into the ocean. You can only imagine the comments from all of us women. I’ll just say there was quite a bit of laughter among us all!
8. Visit the Quarry from Whence the Moai Came
There are many more reasons, but we are heading for the airport for our flight to Santiago today, and an early morning departure for Buenos Aires tomorrow, so typos and all, if I don’t publish now, who knows when the next opportunity will arise.