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!