A Travellerspoint blog

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Closer to Easter Island

Today was our last day at sea before arriving at Easter Island. It was a real day of leisure, starting with breakfast in our room. The rest of the morning was taken up with our own pursuits: cross-stitching, reading, walking, writing.

We met for lunch at the informal Waves Grill. Then it was off to the Marina auditorium to listen to Dr. Paula present a slide show on Easter Island/Rapa Nui.

For the remainder of the afternoon, the four of us played UNO, first in a small outdoor lounge area on the 12th deck and later in the Grand Bar.
Our final fling for the day was a 7:30 p.m. dinner at Red Ginger, the Asian specialty restaurant on board. Just as we’ve experienced in all of the dining rooms on board, the meal was fabulous. We enjoyed sake with our entrees and the desserts that followed included fresh coconut ice cream as just one of the sweet treats.
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Once again, we waddled back to our room for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow, we will arrive at Easter Island, “the navel of the world”.

Posted by jeburns55 15:54 Comments (0)

Arrival at Easter Island

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui as the locals call it, is located 2300 miles off the coast of Chile. It is considered the world’s most isolated inhabited island. It land area covers a little over 70 square miles.

Today was the day we have all been waiting for...our arrival at Easter Island, said to be the most remote inhabited place in the world.
By mid-morning we were able to make our the tiny silhouette of the island on the far horizon from the bow of the ship. By lunch time, we close enough to see details on the island, including an ahu (stone platform) with five moai (stone statues) on it.
The four of us went to the Marina auditorium after lunch to get in line for our tender tickets. The tender boats began shuttling passengers to the island shortly after noon. However, the landing on shore is located in a tiny man-made harbor that can accommodate only one tender at a time. In order to get in, the tender boats have to maneuver through a narrow opening between huge, jagged rocks that are constantly bashed by huge ocean waves. That meant that as each tender got close to the entrance, it had to wait—bobbing on the waves—until the previous boat had left the harbor and cleared the rocks. All of this translated to longer waits to go ashore.
Once we were finally ashore, we faced quite a walk to get to the center of town. As couples, we decided to go our separate ways for the afternoon and meet up later.
The two of us began hoofing it toward downtown Hanga Roa (the one town on the island). It was quite a trek. Once we reached the main intersection by the fishermen's wharf, we decided to continue on by the shore to see the ahu with the five moai a bit farther on. Along that road, we also passed the cemetery, which was quite colorful. As well as the five statues sitting in one row, we found several single moai nearby. These were the first of the hundreds of the stone “heads” that we hoped to see during the next two days. Although scholars have studied these stone statues for years—since they were first viewed by European sailors in 1722—the questions of how and why the moai were built still remains a mystery.
Back to the town center we hiked and then turned left to walk to the top of the hill that is crowned by the local Catholic church. The church is unique in that it is decorated throughout with a blending of Western and Polynesian art and icons. For example, the carved wooden statues of Mary and Jesus are topped with crowns made up of birds. In the back of the church is a wooden statue with the wings of an angel and the head of the “birdman”, the birdman being the basis of an island cult that seemed to supplant the original rituals based on the moai.
Next door to the church is an artisans market. We stepped in and found many booths run by local women who were selling mostly the same items (miniature moai statues carved in wood or local lava rock), shell jewelry, other wooden items, and some clothing. After a short look around, it was time to make the long hike back to the tender dock.
Being the explorers we are, we decided to take a different way back. How hard could it be to find our way on an island this small? We took a left at the first intersection coming down the hill and found ourselves on the “real” main street. Ah-HA, more to explore in the next couple of days. But at this point, we had to keep on walking; we didn’t want to miss the last shuttle back to the ship in an hour or so. Unfortunately, none of the streets are marked with signs and some of them are paved and some are red dirt. Continuing in what seemed to be the right direction, we eventually found ourselves dead ended in someone’s back yard. And the lady of the house didn’t seem pleased. Since we couldn’t speak Spanish and she couldn’t speak English, we all came to the same unspoken conclusion: we should get the heck out of there! Retracing our steps, we came upon a few young people who seemed to understand our sign language and they gave us a good hint on how to get back...which we did! Once back on board, we had a bit of happy hour, ate some dinner, and settled down to rest for tomorrow.

Posted by jeburns55 15:56 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Full Day at Easter Island

Nearly 3000 wild horses make their home on Easter Island. The average temperature on Easter Island is between 69 degrees and 73 degrees.

We will spend the entire day on Easter Island, with the four of us exploring on our own.

After breakfast, we headed to the Marina auditorium for our tender tickets. Unfortunately, because quite a few passengers on the ship signed up for cruise sponsored tours, they got preference in boarding the tenders before those of us who are “self-guided”. We had reserved a car to drive on the island today and tomorrow. The car rental agency had emailed us with the agreement that they would meet us on the dock at 9 a.m. We were a bit concerned because we didn’t leave the ship until nearly 9:15 a.m.

No need to worry, however. Once we were ashore, someone met us and shuttled us to their garage where we were assigned a nifty little 2-door 4-wheel drive vehicle. Actually “nifty” is a bit of an over-compliment. The interior of the car was wet, as they hose down the cars inside and out when cleaning them. The sun visor on the driver’s side was missing. Once we were on the road, we noticed that the electric window in the passenger door would only go up if you revved the engine so that a little extra power was generated. The shock absorbers were long past functioning. And 5 miles out of town, the “check engine” light came on. Despite all of those shortcomings, our little buggy served us well.

Once we had gassed up at the local station (the only gas station...and it doesn’t open for business until the owner is ready, regardless of how many cars and scooters are lined up on the street out in front), we headed northeast on the great loop that would allow us to see most of the famous sites. First on our list was the “quarry” of Rano Raraku. According to information provided by the ship, we could buy our tickets to the National Park sites there; not so, said the ranger/ticket taker at the site. So that would have to wait until tomorrow.

We continued on the nice asphalt road a short distance to Ahu Tongariki, an ahu (stone platform) with 15 moai atop it. The site was most impressive. Making it more attractive were the ocean waves crashing on the rocks just behind the ahu.
From there, we continued on the main road. However, within a few miles, the asphalt ended and the road surface changes to a rutted, pot-holed path of red dirt punctuated by large chunks of lava and stone. Our little buggy continued to make its way for us, but only at a speed of about 10 miles an hour and with no regard for Jerry and Susie who were nearly bouncing through the roof at every bump. This road seemed to go on forever; so much so that we had to wonder if we were on the wrong road.

Alas, just about the time our backseat buddies could barely take another bruise on their behinds, the asphalt appeared once again. Hurray! And just a couple of miles away, we came to the second most impressive platform, Ahu Anakena. This ahu is situated on one of the few sand beaches on the island. The remains of seven moai are set upon it, four with the red “top knots”, one without, and two “stumps” or partial torsos. The beach area complete with palm trees was a fantastic setting.
Back in the car, we had a fast and smooth ride back to Hanga Roa. Before we ate a late lunch, we hoped to find a place to buy our tickets to get into the national park sites. Cruising through town we happened upon the Rapa Nui version of Dragnet. Three police officers were stopping vehicles driven by tourists. We were flagged down and John’s drivers license and ship card were taken and recorded in a little book. Apparently, the four of us looked suspicious! And when asked where we could buy the park tickets, the officer’s response was, “No English.”
Down at the fishermen’s wharf, we found Mikafè. This was recommended as a great place for coffee and ice cream. We sat down to a late lunch of sandwiches along with the coffee and ice cream. It all hit the spot.

Having seen enough to keep our brains busy processing it all for the remainder of the day and night, we drove back to the tender harbor for a ride back to the boat. We left our little car parked at the wharf there, as instructed, where we could pick it up tomorrow.

Back on board, we rested up, ate some dinner and crashed out.

Tomorrow, more of Rapa Nui!

Posted by jeburns55 17:01 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Last Day on Easter Island

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.

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.

Posted by jeburns55 18:02 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

The Long Cruise to Peru

May 1:
We awoke this morning well on our way back to Peru and our flight home. Well on our way, however, doesn’t mean we are close. It is well over 2000 miles to Lima and that translates to four successive days of cruising through the South Pacific.

Getting a few chores out of the way, John and Jerry both found their way to the laundry room right after breakfast. Wash and dry a couple of loads and we are good for the rest of the trip!

The rest of the day was relaxing and reading. The day was topped off with all of us enjoying happy hour at the Grand Bar followed by a fantastic dinner at Toscana Italian restaurant.

May 2:
Another relaxing day on board. Breakfast in the Grand Dining Room was followed by reading, cross-stitching, walking the track and watching TV. The four of us met on the balcony of the Terrace Café for lunch. The afternoon was more of the same...reading, cross-stitching, and TV...plus a nap! At 6:30, we met once more at Toscana for a two and a half hour Italian dinner. Beyond that, we walked outside on the windy deck to look at the southern sky and then it was time to retire.
May 3 and May 4:
We spend two more days eating, reading, walking the decks, playing UNO, and enjoying happy hours in the afternoons. Four days at sea is a bit long. We can’t wait to get to Callao port near Lima, Peru!

Posted by jeburns55 19:03 Comments (0)

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