There are 887 moai (stone statues) on Easter Island, 397 at Rano Raraku quarry and the rest were placed along the shores. The largest finished moai is about 30 feet tall and weighs 80 tons.
04.30.2013 - 04.30.2013
Today was our last day at the centerpiece of our journey, Easter Island.
The four of us were ready to board a tender at 8 a.m. We did have to wait a short while but before 9 a.m. we had landed and found our little buggy just where we left it.
Our first stop was the restored village of Orongo. The village sits between the crater lake Rano Kao and a sheer cliff that drops off into the sea. On the road up to the village, we stopped to look down into the lake inside the crater of a volcano that formed part of the island with it’s eruptions eons ago. Peering down into the water dotted with small green islets below, it was hard to imagine how the native people once climbed down to get fresh water.
Driving farther up the red dirt road, we eventually came to Orongo. Showing our tickets to the park ranger in the visitor center (which we did manage to buy the day before), we set off on a rugged, but well-kept guided trail that led us around the village. The most notable attractions were the round stone huts and the 150 carvings in stone of the birdman, which anthropologists believe was the basis for a religious cult, perhaps replacing the cult of the moai.
The stone huts comprise a series of short, round structures that are topped with sod and with very small openings that face out to the sea. Beyond them, the trail continues out to the end of the cliff. Set on the end are several large stones with the birdman carvings. From the lookout spot where you can see the carved rocks there is also another view down into the crater lake. The entire site is fascinating. We all took our time to absorb the sites and sounds.
Trekking back to the parking lot, we found several tour busses parked and the ever present souvenir vendors. Pleased that we had “beat the crowds”, we fired up our ride and headed to the next stop: Rano Raraku, the quarry. Once we had cleared the dusty red road that led back from Orongo, we were on asphalt again. Our journey was a re-run from yesterday, but we still enjoyed seeing the wave-thrashed rocky coast, the meandering horses, and the remains of many ahus (stone platforms) along the way.
As we pulled off the main road onto the path leading to the park entrance, we could see in the distance many of the nearly 400 moai statues dotting the hillside. Some are partially buried, some have tilted forward or backward, some are lying down face-first, some are broken, and some are still attached to the stone cliff—unfinished. Once we had parked and had shown our pass, each of us went on our own little walk along the well-defined trails that weave through the huge faces that surround you on all sides. To be there was awe-inspiring and, yes, a little spooky!
By now, it was nearing lunch time. Back in the car, we headed back into Hanga Roa to find a restaurant and then do a bit more sightseeing. We parked along the main street, and although we didn’t find the lunch spot we were looking for, we did settle onto the veranda of a neat spot where Hinano beer and empanadas were on the menu.
Filled and refreshed, we drove to the far side of town to visit the local museum. It required a bit of a search, as it was located at the end of another rutted, unfinished red dirt road. Inside we found some artifacts and a great deal of information about the island and its history. It was well worth the trip.
The last stop was the church atop the hill in town. Jerry and Michelle had not seen it yet. And across the street, the market place was open again for last-chance shopping.
Our last task was to drop Jerry and Michelle at the tender dock and then return the car to the rental agency. Someone there was kind enough to provide a ride for us back to the dock. Boarding the next tender, we returned to the ship and enjoyed happy hour in the Horizon Bar, gazing out at Easter Island fading into the distance and darkness as we began our final leg of this journey across the South Pacific.