Saturday, March 20, 2010

Exploring Easter Island

Soggy Paws at Anchor off Hanga Roas

We did have 2 nice days at the Hanga Roa anchorage, where the weather was settled enough that we enjoyed ourselves.

We took an afternoon amble around the "moai" (big stone heads) near Hanga Roa, the main town, and we went to the Museum.

We liked this sign telling tourists not to climb on the artifacts.

Don't Walk on the Moai!

What is so amazing is that the statues are HUGE. See the picture below with Dave and I in the foreground. The big mystery at Easter Island is how the islanders transported these big statues close to 10 miles over rough terrain, set them upright, and then put the 'hat' on top.

We Pose for Perspective in Front of a Solitary Statue

When the first Europeans arrived at Easter Island in the 1600's, most of the statues were still in place. They ring the coastline and can be easily seen from the sea. But by the time later explorers arrived, many of the statues had been thrown down, presumably by inter-trival warfare. By the end of the 1700's, there were no statues left standing.

The Head of a Statue in Front of a Destroyed Ahu

The statues that are standing today have been restored by various efforts over the last 100 years.

The Birdman Islands

The second day we took a half day tour of the north end of the island, where the 'birdman cult' hung out. This is the Easter Island 'religion' that succeeded the moai-builders, and is centered around an extinct volcano crater and a couple of small islands offshore. To decide who next year's ruler was, a representative from each party would swim out to the island and wait for the seabird nesting to begin. The group who's representative was the first to bring back (swimming across a half mile of open ocean, and scaling a very tall cliff) the first bird egg, got to rule the island for the next year. The actual 'birdman' also got the pretty girl, we understand.

Looking at Cave Art

We also took a walk around town and scoped out things like dive shops, laundry, groceries, internet, and souvenier stands. Dave bought a bunch of Easter Island stamps at the Post Office, and we got an Easter Island stamp in our passports.

Tomorrow we plan to get some chores done... groceries and laundry for Sue and I, and boat repairs and diesel for the guys. Then Sunday we have a car reserved to go see the rest of the island.

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