Today we were going on a full day tour around the island (Rapa Nui). There is about 39 people on our tour so we had to go with two buses, our bus was being guided by a local guide, Noi. She looks to be our age and studied over on the mainland and has a degree in Political Science but wanted to learn more about her history and culture so came home. She can tie her ancestry right back to the when they were making the Moai (statues).
Our first stop was the gas station for people to pick up any water or snacks, Cindy and I looked but we had already bought things the day before. On we went to our real first stop, Akahanga. Akahanga is an archaeological site where you could see the Moai (Statue) and the Ahu (platform they sit on) – Noi told us about the history of the Moai, why they were built and why they were destroyed. This site showed destroyed Moai and the difference in size, the earlier ones were about 2m in length but in the later days did get built up to around 6m and some bigger. They were built for people of importance ontop of their grave, the Moai was to hold their ‘Mana’ (their spirit, the more important someone was, the more Mana they were believed to have). The Moai are transported from the quarry 98% completed, after the were erected onto the platform – their eyes were carved out and white coral was then placed in.
The scenery is lovely, the water is a dark and clean blue. There are brightly coloured flowers around and they have this long grass with tiny little purple flowers that grows around and from a distance, make mountains look purple (reminded me of Scotland).
Our next stop was Ranu Raraku, the quarry. This is the location that all the Moai were built before being transported to a particular region. There were twelve (?) clans on the island back then and one was in charge of the quarry and would trade with the others when they wanted Moai built.
They stopped building Moai when they were being destroyed by the people. People started seening them as Power statuses rather than memorials which caused problems as the leaders were erecting more and more as the ‘common’ people were working hard and not being well looked after. So there are around 400 Moai left unfinished in the quarry in different stages of completion. The Moai are carved into the crater and when completed, unattached from the hill where gravity would drop them to be transported away.
After a good look around, we walked back to the start where we then had a cooked lunch (roast chicken and veges) and beer. We kept going to our next stop Tongariki which is a fully restored site with 15 of the 17 original Moai – these were swept away by a Tsunami a few years ago which went on to hit Japan. Japan felt a kinship with Rapa Nui because of this disaster and helped fund the costs of re-restoring the Moai and it is impressive! The size of them with the picturesque landscape around them – truly magnificent!
We continued on to Anakena, famous for its beach, by this time it was 4ish and not as hot so Cindy and I didn’t go swimming but went for a walk to see more Moai and some outlines of old villages before finding a place on the hill to sit in the run. Just after 5 we were on our way back to Hanga Roa (main town where we are staying) this allowed us to drive (and see) the Marathon course. There are a fair few hills!! Poor Cindy! Thankfully not as many in the first half (which is lucky for me).
When we got back to our hotel, we had a quick pit-stop at our room before heading out to a restaurant on the water for an early dinner. This place was good and gave us delicious entree (kinda free as they charge an optional service fee). I had some more of their local beer too which was a delicious pale ale. You get an amazing view of the water and the sunset from this restaurant, but the clouds kinda ruined the sunset for us tonight.
After dinner and watching a nice-ish sunset we walked back to the hotel for another pit-stop at our room before meeting everyone to go to the ‘opening ceremony’ which was a 15 minute walk to a small outdoor area with an erected Moai – here they had locals perform a Hana (?) similar to the haka but different and they had cooked some food in their fire pit to pray and wish us luck and health for our event on Sunday.
Here we are now, back at the hotel. Tomorrow is our free day, we haven’t made much of a plan but will probably go for a nice walk up the coast a bit to see some more Moai and might post some photos.
Until next time.