EASTER ISLAND: 14.09.- 23.09.2003

Translated by PROMT-Online-Translator

Route: Hanga Roa, Anakena, Tongariki, Rano Raraku, Orongo, Vinapu, Puna Pau, Hanga Roa (mehr Örtlichkeiten gibt es quasi nicht)

Distance: about 100 Km         Ascent: may be 500m

Preface: Easter island, which belongs to Chile, has the form of a triangle with the edge lengths of 24 km x 20 km x 15 km and is therefore not really big. Because the island has originated from volcanism, it is a little bit hilly. Though to camping is not allowed officially, however I had no problem as I tried to hide the tent a little bit. The inhabitants are very friendly and helpful and many speak even English. The description of the history and the culture of the Easter islands is partly different, by the way, according to source. My descriptions is a mixture from Footprint-, LAN Chile and national park guide so a few small mistakes may have happened.
Settlement and discovery: Rapa Nui, as the Easter Island is called by the locals, was presumably settled about 800 A.D. by the Polynesians, and not like Thor Heyerdahl, after his journey with the Kon Tiki in 1955, stated, from South America. As the first Europeans the Dutch admiral Jacob Roggeven came in 1722 to the small island which lies 3700 km west of Chile and 4050 km to the east of Tahiti, in the middle of the south Pacific. Admiral Roggeven reached Rapa Nui on Easter Sunday, and named the island hence Easter Island. Then in 1774 came captain James Cook to Easter Island and then, finally, in 1786 the French also came. In 1888 Easter Island was taken from Chile I do not know at all exactly whether it is called now "Easter island" or "Easter islands", because the main island "Rapa Nui" has three offshore mini-islets, so-called Motus (one is even only one rock tower) on which merely a few birds nest (see photo with the bird's man cult).
Moai: The Easter island is famous of course because of the Moai, to the up to 9-m-high stone figures (LAN Chile speaks of up to 21-m-high and the up to 300 tons heavy Moai) which were installed around the whole island. In total there are about 600 of the Moai. The Moai were installed with the back to the sea on old ares (Ahu) and look thus with the face in the inland. The Moai served of 5 clans which bult them around the island for religious admiration as well as to express their strength.
Camping on the Easter island part I: According to guidebook there should be a free campground in Anakena and Rano Raraku. Directly after arrival on the Easter island I exchanged money, bought a lot of food and cycled to the other end of the island to Anakena. The souvenir shop assistants sitting there believed that I can build up here everywhere easily my tent and one of the ladies collected in a neighbouring building also immediately 0.8€ of me (I thought this would be for camping and the use of the sanitary facilities). I had built up just my tent when a park ranger on his horse came riding towards me and explained me in Spanish that here camping would be forbidden. Then I explained to him in English that that the nice lady from the souvenier stand had already collected money of me. Then, however, at last he offered to me that I may build up my tent, nevertheless, a night in the ranger station. Said done and thus I packed my bike again to pitch the tent only about 300 m farther. Fernando. the ranger. if is, by the way, a rather nice fellow and shortly before close he came again to me for a small chat. His English as well as my Spanish had considerably become better in the interim and thus I told him about my trip.
Cave in the Ovahe beach: This wonderful small cave lies at the Ovahe beach, a small beach with "slightly" pink-coloured sand in the north of Rapa Nui.
The navel of the world: The round stone in the middle with his four "guards" is called by local "Te Pito Kura" what is called so much like "navel of the world".
Birth of the Moai: Here in the stone quarries in the Ranu Raraku volcano is where the Moai are carved out of the rocks. Afterwards the Moais were rolled on wooden trunks over the island to their destination. Finally the production and the transport became too expensive.
Death of the Moai: Over the centuries the population of Rapa Nui has always grown and in the 16th and 17th century the population had already risen to 4000 inhabitants what has presumably brought some ecological problems with itself on the small island and has led thus to some wars between the tribes. During these wars the Moai, production was reduced due to cost reasons and wooden shortage which already became obvious in the 14th century, were totally opposed. Further all Moai were tipped over and the altars were destroyed. Some of the Moai, like here in Anakena, were installed this century, again to give a better insight into the old culture to the tourists. Today about 2800 inhabitants live on Rapa Nui live.
Moai at Ranu Raraku: With the wars also there came the end of the Moai and it looks almost in such a way that the people who made them dropped their tools in the middle of the work, because everywhere are to be found here Moai in the most different stadia of production. A total of about 100 virtually ready Moai lie here scattered at the foot of Ranu Raraku.
Hat factory: All hats came from the crater of the volcano Puna Pau. As well as already the Moai factory the "hat factory" was simply left so also during the family wars.
"Birdman" cult: After the wars the majority of the inhabitants lived in Hanga Roa and after the Moai were tipped over and the altars were destroyed they developed a new possibility to express the tensions between the tribes: the "birdman" - cult. Every spring there was among the leaders of the clans, or a representative, a big competition for the first egg which was laid by the Manatara, a sea bird, on Motu Nui, the biggest of three offshore islets. The participants had to swim to the island and remained there so long , several days or even weeks, until one had found the first egg and had brought to Orongo. The man who brought back the "holy" egg was called the "birdman" for the next year and brought his clan and himself big honour. About the role them the bird's man in the everyday life of the inhabitants on Rapa Nui played, unfortunately, I could find out nothing. The last competition was carried out in 1867.
Orongo: Orongo, the ceremonial place high on top on the crater edge of the Ranu Chewing volcano, was established specially for the realisation of the bird's man competition. In a specially separated area the priests who were responsible for the realisation of the competition were accommodated. From the "balcony" of their house the priests had in view of the island Motu Nui fully (the photo "birdman" cult is shot from here) and could follow thus the hair-raising descent of the crater edge down to the sea as well as the afterwards swimming stage to the island from the first row.
Stone houses in Orongo: Although inhabit only for a few weeks during the realisation of the bird's man competition, the houses were extremely respectable in Orongo. The houses existed of a long oval room in each case with thick double-walled stone walls which were filled with earth. The walls as well as the roofs were built from basalt slices. Then for the conclusion the roofs were still covered with grass. Although they were built very solidly, up here the houses were put out on the volcano crater, nevertheless, the strong Pacific winds were tough on the hoses and thus maintenance operations were necessary permanently.
Ahu Tongariki: After the coup during the wars in the 17th century. the Moai in Tongariki suffered another stroke of fate. In 1960 the Moai were washed by a tidal wave, released by an earthquake, of their platform. Thanks to Japanese money and local virility (construction crane according to photo in Tongariki and historical method run LAN brochure), the Moai were put again on their platforms. Once with his 15 Moai Ahu Tongariki was the biggest platform on the Easter islands.
Church by the sea: The Open air church with a few round chunks of wood directly by the sea is also not bad. In the evaluation "beauty with low building cost" she has one of the front places!
Camping on the Easter island part II: After camping in the national park was not allowed, I had to hide during the next days then of course again in the bushes! Here because of rain weather I remained a total of 3 nights in this place.
Rainwater: Normally if it rains in the morning already before departure Nadine and I exclaima rainy day, what means that we stay so long in the tent, until the rain has stopped again. The only thing which limited us, was the fact that we had sometime no more water (food we normally have always enough). Now there it has taken more than 3 years and the tip of an American on Tahiti, until I have got finally the idea, that one can collect easily the rainwater from the tent! Within 2 hours I had collected so much rainwater that it managed to wash me and my laundry (we both urgently needed) and to fill still about 6 litres in my water bag! Allowedly I was quite occupied to coordinated all my containers.
Photo of the bike: Of course I also wanted to take a photo with the Moai, however, unfortunately, they are blocked off. Then luckily I have found a gravel road from which one could look from above into the Moai. In total I have tried to gain control during at least 1 1/2 hours on the ground with countless photos of different sharpness and exposure (either Moai sharply and brightly and, besides, wheel blurred and darkly or vice versa) more or less.
Blossoming bush: Everywhere on the Easter Island blossoms this marvellous bush which has also very sharp thorns.
Cockroaches: Till present in my youthful carelessness I have always thought that cockroaches live in baking rooms, canteen kitchens and cheap hotels and was surprised therefore a little bit to find them here on Easter Island all at once in the woods. However, somewhere they must have lived of course, before the people with their modern civilisation have overgrown the world (however: in the woods on Easter Island!?). It is quite unbelievable as fast the cockroaches sniff food in the air. Hardly I had unpacked some food they already came and were shy by no means. I have discovered here, by the way, 2 kinds of cockroaches: the "normal ones" they are relatively small here and "big coloured ones" (hope the coloured one is really a cockroach).
Photo of the bike II: Then, finally, in Hanga Roa I had the possibility to get near to a Moai.
Sunset: Now after 10 days on this small, but culturally and humanely very nice island I´flying now to the mainland of Chile.



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