** Not much food in this one. But if you like Moai, you won't be disappointed!
The roosters were driving the Missus crazy. They started crowing at around 330am and never let up. Funny, they really didn't bother me. On the other hand, at least we wouldn't be missing the sunrise. The all important sunrise. You see, another item on the Missus's bucket list; Sunrise at Ahu Tongariki. I was tracking the weather.....though the wifi is terrible on Easter Island and for some reason, our phones would sometimes switch between Easter Island time and Chilean time which is a two hour difference.
Finding Tongariki is supposed to be a pretty easy; drive past the airport, take a right at the sign and it's about another 20 minutes along the shoreline. Well, in the pitch black darkness we missed the sign. But we were headed in the right direction. Finally, I saw some signage, we took a right, and ended up at Ahu Tongariki; albeit in a bit of a roundabout way....but heck, it's part of the fun, right?
One look at the 15 Moai on this Ahu as the sun started to rise and I totally got it....
This is bucket list stuff......
The Moai face a large open area that was once the site of a village. Take a look at and remember that mountain in the background. It's important.
This is the largest Ahu ever built.
To say watching the sunrise here is spectacular is an understatement. It is a "must see" if you're ever on Isla de Pascua.
Interesting fact; due to tribal warfare that took place during the 17th century, all Moai were toppled including these. The Valdivia Earthquake of 1960, the largest ever recorded, created a tsunami which I mentioned in this post that wiped out "Shinmachi" in Hilo, also hit Easter Island, dragging the Moai and the Pukao (top knots) inland.
In 1992 the Chilean Government partnered with....now this is a great bit of trivia, the Moai Restoration Committee of Japan. A combined team of Chilean and Japanese archaeologists, Easter Islanders, and other technicians worked together to complete the project in 1996. You can see the timeline here. You can also read about why there's a Moai on Megi Island. People can do great things when we work together......
It kind of looks like we're alone, doesn't it? That's not quite the case....there were several groups of folks; including the inevitable "selfie girls troupe".
Still, probably because of the forecasted weather, there weren't too many people. Speaking of weather; remember that old adage "red sky at morning, sailor take warning"? Well, I saw clouds in the distance and the occasional flash of lightning......
And while it seemed to pass quite quickly, it was time to be on our way.
We turned around and headed back to the main road the way we came. Things looked different in the light of day. Specifically, we could some of the other residents of the area.
The rugged terrain and colors made the horses and cows; which seem to run free, looked stunning....like they jumped off a postcard.
And other than a curious look, they pretty much went on their business.
Along the coastal road toward Anakena we saw a sign and stopped here.
Known as Pu O Hiro - Hiro's Trumpet. Because the name sounded so strangely Japanese, I was curious as to who "Hiro" was. Turns out Hiro is the ancient God of Rain, though there's even more interesting research with ties to the Society Islands. Apparently, you could blow into the main hole and it would make a loud bellowing noise which is thought to attract fishes.
Papa Vaka has several distinctive petroglyphs along a short walking trail.
Some of them have fish, the one above clearly has fish hooks and other implements on them.
We made one more stop before getting to Anakena. We saw the sign Te Pito Kura and the Missus read that the Moai which lies here was the largest ever built at the Rano Raraku site.
Nearly 10 meters tall this Moai was last seen standing in 1838 by French Explorer Abel Aubert Dupetit Thouars. The topknot on the ground was huge. Just to the left of the Ahu is supposedly (as it was blocked off during our visit) a group of rocks, with several polished rocks and one large one in the middle (photo can be found here) named "Te Pito Kura". I asked Vero what this meant and she told me it was the "navel of the world". I had started noticing some similarities between the Rapa Nui language and the very rudimentary Hawaiian that I recalled from school. Piko is navel in Hawaiian, Pito in Rapa Nui. Mana is divine magical force in Rapa Nui, while it basically means the power and spirit of life in Hawaiian.
Anakena is the only white sand beach we saw. It was starkly empty when we arrived. Probably because it was fairly early in the morning (about 830), but also the forecast of rain didn't help.
There's a nice beach; palm trees, which I read were brought in from Tahiti in the 60's, various picnic areas, food and drink stands, restrooms....you got it, right?
As you can tell, it was blowing pretty hard. We really didn't come here for the white sand and palm trees. Though learning that this is where Hotu Matu'a, the Founding Father and first king of the Rapa Nui people was quite impressive.
No, we were here for the Moai. There are two Ahu here; the picturesque Ahu Nau Nau, which according to the linked site (a very nice one too) were protected from the elements when they were toppled, falling onto the soft sand and then being covered by it. They were restored in 1978.
The beach makes an interesting backdrop for these Moai.
We met the only person in the area at the time; a very friendly Park Ranger, who spoke perfect English. He told us he had lived in New York City for a while.
The other Moai was the one I was really interested in. While in Elementary school, I became a voracious reader. Yes, basically a "bookworm". One of the books I remembered reading; it was one of the few items that made its way to me from my Grandparent's home in Honolua. I think it belonged to my Uncle. Was the book Kon-Tiki, written by the Norweigan Explorer Thor Heyerdahl, about the Kon-Tiki Expedition.
Well, this Ahu and Moai, was restored with the help of Thor Heyerdahl during his visit in 1955-56. It was the first Ahu and Moai restored.
It stands stoically looking to what was a village at this location.
Our last stop on the so called Northeastern Circuit was Rano Raraku. It is one of the areas that where you need to have proof of admission. It was still quite early in the day, so there weren't too many visitors when we arrived. Folks call Rano Raraku "the Nursery", it is estimated that 95% of the Moai were carved from the volcanic rock known as tuff on these very slopes. There are two main trails up the slopes; the one on the left goes to the crater, the one on the right, the "quarry". We decided on going right.
You get kind of an eerie feeling walking along the trail; especially when you're alone.
Everything looks strangely random...... Moai in different states sprinkled along the hillside.
Like the workmen just left for the day......
Further up the hillside you'll come across the other Moai that were still in the process of being carved.
There was even a Moai that was to be the largest ever, being carved.
It's like someone just pulled the plug on this and everything stopped, a snapshot in time.
Right around a bend is my favorite Moai; named Tukuturi. It's quite different in several ways; first, the Moai is in the kneeling position, a posture assumed by folks participating in a singing competition known as Riu. Second, this Moai has facial hair. Third, and most fascinating for me, this Moai is made out of scoria, which is what the typical top knots (pukao) were made of.
Recognize the view over the left shoulder of Tukuturi? Yep, that's Tongariki.
This is the mountain in the third photo in this post.
According to this post, Tukuturi was unearthed by Thor Heyerdahl in 1955. When it was discovered, even the local folks didn't know of it.
What an interesting story this Moai could tell......
Or any one of these......
There are quite a few Moai that are broken littering the mountainside. According to what I read when a Moai fell and broke during the trip down the volcano, it was thought to have lost its "mana" , and left in place.
We had considered taking the other route to the crater of the volcano; but the winds had picked up and it was drizzling off and on. We decided to head on back. Rano Kao (in an upcoming post) and Rano Raraku were my two favorite places on Easter Island. I'm glad we were able to visit.
We headed back to Hang Roa, to grab some lunch. This time we took the road that we should have found in the morning which was along the ocean.
We weren't super hungry when we got into Hang Roa, so we decided to head on over to Casa Esquina, which was closed on this Tuesday as well. I seemed quite busy along Atamu Tekena on this day, so we just headed in the direction of the airport, found parking and started poking our head into places. Next to one of the markets was a little shop making Empanadas. These were baked, not fried, so the Missus got the Pollo Queso. I'd read that the one that was a "must try" was the Atun, tuna, so I got that.
As you can see; these were quite large. The Missus thought the chicken was decent, a bit on the dry side, but not bad.
She had a tiny bite of the tuna empanada and just could not swallow it! It was pretty dry and somewhat fishy. The cheese did this no favors. The pastry shell was nice, but the Missus had gotten Her fill and I promised that there'd be no more empanadas in our future.
It was time for a short nap, then we hoped to beat the rain and do some more exploring.
Thanks for reading!