Posted by: gardner310 | June 1, 2014

World Cruise, I Made It to EASTER ISLAND!

I can't believe I'm on Easter Island!

I can’t believe I’m on Easter Island!

 

Today was what may be the highlight of this entire cruise, Easter Island.  The Chilean  island is famous for the moai statues we see in National Geographic magazine.   The island is much more mountainous than I expected and in fact there are 50 volcanoes on it.  The huge heads  abound across the islands along with the full size statues mounted on the ahus (altars).  The areas are considered sacred grounds and you may not walk on the areas or climb on the moais.  They are not gods but are built facing in toward the island as  protection.  Families on the island would get together and build one or more of the moais as a testament to their own standing in the community.  My moai is bigger than your moai, so to speak.

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There is a sense of spirituality on the island and you can’t help but feel that the statues have something to do with it.  The population is only 6500 at this point  and although many are direct descendants of the original inhabitants, most are now mixed with Chileans and Europeans.

One of the local merchants

One of the local merchants

The residents are out in full force with their handicrafts at each and every stop.  I bought the keychains, a stuffed moai and 2 postcards.  I do regret not getting the T shirt.   I was able to visit 4 spots on the island where the most famous moais stand.  The first group you can see from the ship, since we were tendered in Hanga Bay.  The coast with its crashing waves makes for a dramatic backdrop for this group of 4 plus a single statue at Tahai.

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Next we were able to go to one of the quarries, Rano Raraku, where the moais were carved.  It’s a bit of a moai graveyard now since many unfinished and broken ones are literally littered on the side of the volcano.  It is here where The Giant lay, over 21 meters in length, he lies on his back, unfinished, waiting to be pulled up from the rock and moved to a standing position.  There are still 397 statues in different states on tone slopes of the extinct volcano.

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From here we headed to the largest group of 15 moais on a very long ahi (656 ft) or altar at Tongariki.  These are in all sizes and you can see the long fingers of the hands carved on their bodies.  Unfortunately, a storm blew in and we had a short deluge which cut the photo taking way short.

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The last stop was at Anakena Beach, an absolutely stunning pink sand beach set among the lava rocks with a group of moais that are purported to be the best detailed.  They have their red hats on and are clearly in the most beautiful park.  There were plenty of locals at the beach enjoying the sunny day.  Anakena Beach is the number 2 choice of landing areas when we can’t get into Hanga Piko and I can see why the people like it.

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This port is one that we generally have a 50/50 chance of being able to visit due to weather and sea conditions.  We must use the tenders to get everyone ashore because the little harbor is very narrow.  I consider that God was smiling on us this day and I will be forever grateful for this outstanding experience.

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