Here's an interesting tidbit; mention Easter Island to someone in the Spanish speaking world and you might get a blank stare. The official Spanish name is Isla de Pascua. I mentioned Easter Island a few times in Santiago and got quizzical looks. Upon returning, I mentioned Easter Island to one of the folks in another department, she is Peruvian (Tusan!), and she had no idea what I was talking about until I said Isla de Pascua! She loves talking to me about Peruvian food and I'm definitely going to get some recommendations from her next time we travel to Peru.
Our The flight out of Hanga Roa didn't leave until 11, so we had some time to take a short drive and refill the fuel, and stuffs like that. While I was taking the trash out I heard the sound of hooves and took a look around the hedges! There was a guy riding a horse down the street....with a pony following! You sure don't see that everyday here in San Diego!
I quietly walked back to the cabanas, when, I was met by a familiar creature....dum, da, dum, dum......
He looked rather irritated and I'd had enough. I let the cat sit in my lap and gave it some attention. When I put the cat down....it got rather angry, but I moved quickly enough and avoided any parting shots.
Having escaped the clutches of the cat, we headed off and did a last short drive around Hanga Roa.
We got the specialty of the house; the eggs and Nescafe. This time I got a polka dot cup.....
We then went to the gas station, filled up and headed back to the cabanas to relax before our trip.
Check-out went smoothly. When Vero, the wonderful woman at Marae - Cabañas went to call us a shuttle, we told her that we'd rather walk. The airport was just a 15 minute walk away.
Check-In and everything else was fine; a bit slow, but again...this is island life....you don't rush things. Once past security, while waiting we watched the excited visitors exit the place. This is where we were just a few days before.
Due to the time change, it was almost 9pm when we got into Santiago. Our flight to Lima left at 8 the next morning so there was no sense in heading into Santiago. There's a very convenient Holiday Inn right across the street from the airport. After grabbing a sandwich in the airport, this is where we settled in. We decided on a nightcap and went to the bar.
The guy working the bar was so nice and friendly that we decided to stay for a second drink. We talked about Santiago and he mentioned how busy the city is. We asked about classic Chilean dishes and he was nice enough to pull photos from Instagram and other sites, describing the various dishes. What a great guy.
He also made a decent Old Fashioned.....
Soon enough, it was time to head back up to our room. We'd try to grab some shut-eye before our flight to Lima in the morning......though I could still see Moai dancing in my dreams!
After a pretty hectic but exhilarating day we returned to our cabanas and had a short nap. Upon waking we relaxed.....the Missus fiddled around and I worked on a post. The Missus opened the front door and shrieked! The "Killer Pussy" was back! And taunting us!
I mean...there were lots of possible victims.....the chickens looked like fair game.
But no......this cat seem to want some attention, or else!
We decided to wait out the killer cat, who eventually lost interest and left. A few minutes later we headed out for a drive and dinner.....we saw the cat running toward us. Luckily, we made it to the car rather quickly.
We took a nice drive down along the ocean......ending at a nice patch of green. Man, the backdrop of the pacific makes all the photos look great.
Rather than search around for a dinner destination, we decided to head back to Te Moana.
It was much more busy on this evening, but we got the same table as the previous night. Same Server too.
This time I decided on the Ceviche Ika Mata. As before the fish was sparkling fresh, though this seemed a tad "over-cooked" by citrus.
While I wasn't a big fan of adding mustard, nor the sauce to my ceviche....red onions, cilantro, avocado, fresh fish....what's not to like? I also kind of enjoyed the garlic toast as well.....though it didn't seem to go real well with the fish.
The Missus wanted Her favorite from the previous night; the Ceviche Te Moana.
The ceviche was just as lovely this night as well. The touch of coconut milk added a nice counter-point to the citrus and also added a mild creaminess to the lovely fish. The Missus also enjoyed the shrimp. And just like the previous night; that rice was terrible. Of course we didn't order this for the rice.
I also wanted to try the octopus; which was nice and tender, very mild in flavor.
Wasn't a fan of the rather odd tasting sauce, nor the mushy, slightly water-logged mashed potato either.
Overall, Te Moana delivered, the seafood wonderful.
That sunset was fantastic as well.
Te Moana Policarpo Toro Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Valparaiso, Chile
There's a playground just outside the restaurant. Where kids were playing and dogs were hanging out.
The Missus decided to have a bit of fun and a friend joined Her!
He followed the Missus all over the park. Even standing guard while the Missus had fun on the swings.
We wanted to bring him home! But a few minutes later, the pup left for greener pastures.
We took the long way back. Easter Island was an amazing experience. Definitely "bucket list" stuff. But even though we hadn't seen everything, it was time to move on. Tomorrow we'd be flying back to Santiago.
After breakfast we headed off to a site I was really looking forward to Orongo Ceremonial Village. Because this, like Rano Raraku was one of the two places where you absolutely needed admission, and they didn't open until 9am, we took our time. Meandering along the shoreline near Hanga Roa.
This one spot, where the road basically ends looked wonderful on a day like today....or perhaps it always looks amazing.
We'd soon be heading up that mountain in the background. But for now, we were content to watch the waves crash onto the rocks.
There's a campground right across the street. Quite a dramatic location. Though I wondered how things were during the high winds and rain the night before.
It must be great to wake up and have a banana while watching the wild Pacific doing its thing though.
We soon headed off, up Policarpo Toro and all the guest houses up the mountain. We stopped along the way at various view-points (mirador).
Our little Daihatsu Terios was doing a pretty nice job of getting us around.
At the top is Orongo Ceremonial Village. You need to show your tickets or purchase some, you also need to sign in. At Rano Raraku, I took a look at the country of origin of parties signing in; none were from the US. It was the same here. Strangely, very few people I know even know where Easter Island is, or if they've heard of the place, don't even know where it's located.
There are also some rather sad stories of how the site has been plundered and destroyed over the years.
Things start on a beautiful grassy trail.
Which stops on a dramatic cliff over-looking three small "islands".
It is those islands that the competitors of the Birdman Competition would swim to and collect the first seagull egg of the season. Strangely, the folks doing the actually swimming weren't considered the real competitors, but the actual "sponsors" and those holding important positions who decided who would actually perform the physical duties were. Sort of like today, eh?
Further up the trail are some restored stone "houses" made of basalt slabs. Most have been restored.
One was left half restored so we could see the tiny quarters......
The one thing that really caught my attention when I turned the corner was this.
This is Rano Kau, the crater of an extinct volcano that has become a lake. We found this mesmerizing and just plain beautiful; a bog of reed islets.
I wanted a better look so we left Orongo and went to the Rano Kau look-out.
Looking at this amazing sight, the inner Edwin Malone of my bookworm years arose. It left so much to the imagination......
Looking at the crater below, I recall telling the Missus, "Because its protected from the elements and population as a whole, I'm wondering if there's a special little micro eco-system down there; where there might be plants that are native to Easter island that can't be found anywhere else." Ah yes, there's still a bit of fantasy and romance left I guess. Then I came home and read the story of the Toromiro Tree. Endemic to Easter island, the last tree surviving in the wild was cut down in 1960. However, Thor Heyerdahl had saved seeds from a tree in Rano Kau during his time here in 1955-56. And while the species is basically extinct in the wild, it still survives in botanic gardens. All the trees that survive are thought to have descended from this one singular tree.
It was still rather early in the day. The Missus decided She wanted to visit one more place before lunch; the lava tubes that make up Ana Kakenga. Getting there was bit interesting as there's a definite lack of signage....you just go until the road ends and keep going.
The recent rains had made for some deceptively deep "pools". While nothing of consequence at first, it steadily got worse (sorry no photos - I was just trying to make sure we didn't get stuck). Finally, there was a road block and a makeshift shack where a Park Ranger had everyone park, sign the book and head off on foot.
And so we headed off......
With not a "two legged" soul in site......
Until we came to this......
And the sign said we'd passed our destination.
So we turned back.....
And then came upon a pretty large (like six-four, probably over three hundred pounds) guy. He asked in Spanish if we'd seen "Ana Kakenga" and we said no. So we all headed back. then we heard some exclamations; apparently his young son and daughter had found the place. You gotta love the sign......
We found a woman waiting among some backpacks and what was basically a hole in the ground.
There were folks checking things out, we'd wait until they finished then go down. It was a nice time to check out the scenery.
Finally, it was our chance to go down the rabbit hole. The Missus first of course!
Next me....at which things slowed down a bit. You see, the "big dude" got stuck. Finally, his kids and wife managed to pull him through...... He really wanted to hang with his kids, you gotta love it!
You're enrobed in pitch black darkness, with rocks ready to trip you at any moment. Your iPhone Flashlight is your best friend. You see two lights in the distance and understand why it's called "windows", basically two lava tubes formed perhaps centuries ago.
You head toward the light, making sure not to fall down the steep cliff at the end. No, this isn't the United States where everything is safety friendly.
You are ultimately paid off in full by this amazing view of the Pacific.
You turn the light to the direction by whence you came and go "holy s%!+".
Can you tell I'm not a caver?
You turn tail and get the heck out of there and walk back to your vehicle without getting on the wrong side of the rightful occupants of the place.
And yet, there are those for whom this is the norm.
We got back to the vehicle and made the short drive back to Hang Roa. It was lunch time.
While I've posted photos of the horses, cows, chickens, and killer cat, I really haven't mentioned all the dogs in Hanga Roa. Much like Cusco, they are everywhere in Hanga Roa.
And yet, there's a kind of rhythm to life here. The dogs fit in, they know the rules....those that don't, well, I think they don't make it. The dogs do their thing, most of them looked cared for and what was most interesting was that they will go to the door of shops and markets, but will not go in......I guess that's asking for trouble. They know the boundaries of life. Knowing that makes it a "dog's life".
I had a specific place for lunch in mind. Even though it seemed like a pretty busy lunch hour in town, we actually found the place, which we had searched for and found closed on our first day in town; Makona Restaurant.
There were two things on the Missus's mind for lunch; ceviche....and ceviche, so we ordered ceviche.
The folks working here were very nice; just like everywhere else on the island.
And we got ceviche and more ceviche.
The fish, while not as good quality as Te Moana, was still nice and fresh. It was nicely dressed, not too much citrus, great balanced flavors.
Slight ginger tones and the pungency of onion to balance things out. Like I mentioned before, I'm not a fan of the soy sauce they use in Hanga Roa. A touch of cilantro finished things off. Simple is sometimes best!
Meanwhile, we watched this fellow....who obviously was looking for a handout.
Doesn't he seem to be asking, "anything for me?"
And yet, he would not cross that threshold.
Makona Restaurant Atamu Tekena Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile
It started pouring at about 8pm.......but it was the wind that was quite impressive. I decided to hang out on the porch and have a brew. Suddenly, this little orange tabby hops on the porch and onto my lap....purring away like crazy! Strange..... So I gave the little fella' some TLC and the little cat just ate it up. By now I had finished my beer; it was time to call it a night. I put the cat down and it turned and sunk its claws into me and then bit a nice little chunk out of my leg! Geeeez! It was bleeding pretty good....I washed it out; the Missus was worried about some of the rather common cat bite infections or even...no not that "Cat Scratch Fever", but actual CSD. Luckily, nothing really happened except I bled pretty good. The other strange thing was that the cat would now stalk me....we'd park the SUV and as we would be getting out, the cat would come out of nowhere.....the Missus was terrified and she'd run into the cabanas. I'd wake up in the morning, open the front door and the cat would be there! I actually think this was fairly humorous, but the Missus wasn't amused...... No good deed goes unpunished I guess?
Anyway, the Missus wanted to head back to Tongariki and watch the sunrise yet again. Well, we were on an island, what else would we be doing at 5 in the morning? So the Missus starts pushing me awake....I swear, it's like 230 am and I ask Her what the heck is going on? She shows me Her phone, it says it's 430am, we're going to be late! I show Her my phone, which says 230.....it's that crazy thing where my phone is on Hanga Roa time and the Missus's phone is on mainland Chile time.....
Anyway, we do get up and make it back to Tongariki. The weather says it's going to be a beautiful day; the storm has passed.
The sky is bright and clear....I dunno, I kinda liked the deep red sky we had on the previous morning. This time around there are a few more folks milling about. Also, there's a Park Ranger at the entrance of the place checking passes.
You could tell that it was going to be a bright and clear day.
As on the previous day; there's a good bit of chatter while things are still rather dark. Then it gets quiet, almost solemn as the sun slowly rises over the 15 Moai.....
You realize that you've seen something special. And to see it twice.......
The drive back to Hanga Roa was just as beautiful as the previous morning......
The backdrop has the ability to turn every photo into something special......
Meanwhile, back in Hanga Roa it was morning rush hour.
Looking around, we noticed there wasn't much open at this time of the morning. However, on the previous day, I'd noticed a little coffee stand inside of the "Feria" (fair) building which was full of stands selling all sorts of tourist and other goods. Indeed, the place was open on this morning and full of locals.
The place had a simple greaseboard menu; with items like empanadas (2000 CLP - $3)....you know the Missus was not having that. Coffee, 500CLP (80 cents US), con leche (with cream) 1000CLP. Huevo Frito, fried eggs, 500CLP.
So we got two coffee.....they basically gave you a thermos with hot water and passed the jar of Nescafe to you.
They love Nescafe in Chile, you'll find it everywhere, even here on Isla de Pascua.
Outside of the building produce and meat stands were set-up.
We stopped by one of what seems like one of many mini-marts in the town and picked up a few things. We then headed back to the cabanas to drop said items off before heading out to our next destination.
As we neared the airport end of Atamu Tekena, we noticed this dog tailing the red SUV........
He would not let it out of his line of sight.
Finally the vehicle made a stop at the has station and the guy driving came out and gave the dog a big hug....... I guess it's his dog and he follows him to work every day. Must be some kind of daily ritual?
Meanwhile, we got back to the cottage, stowed things away. The Missus opened the door and out came an "eeeek"!
It looks like we were trapped by the "Killer Pussy".......
After our lunch empanadas, the Missus decided we should take a break. It was getting quite windy with occasional drizzles. Which didn't seem to bother the chickens one bit.
Our accommodations were quite large and spacious.
In case you were wondering; there is one local television station (where I watched an interesting episode of the Simpsons - dubbed of course) and two from Chile.
I enjoyed the patio and I'm sure the grill would be fun if you're here during better weather and perhaps a longer period of time.
The cooler weather helped while trying to nap and we awoke refreshed and ready to do a bit more exploring. Looking over the map, the Missus decided we should head inland and up the slopes of Maunga Terevaka, the tallest of the three extinct volcanos that make up Easter Island. Along the southern slopes is the very unique Ahu Akivi.
Unique because not only are these Moai inland, but they face the ocean instead of away from it. Also, the Moai are fairly uniform in size and folks believe that they were all built at the same time. The seven Moai are said to represent the "Seven Explorers" whom Hotu Matu'a sent toward the morning sun to find a place for his people to live.
The seven Moai are also perfectly aligned with the point in which the sun sets during the equinox.
On the way back from Ahu Akivi we stopped at Puna Pau.
Remember those "Pukao", the top knots on the Moai? They were made from Red Scoria and the only place where this is available on the island is in the crater that is Puna Pau.
It is thought that Pukao was a late addition in the construction of the Moai as there are about 100 pukao to approximately 1,000 Moai.
Much like Rano Raraku, where Moai are sprinkled along the hillside, here you'll find pukao lying along the trail.
As if a crew were going to arrive to transport these to some deserving Moai anytime now.
There's also a pretty nice view from here. You could see the rain coming in on Hang Roa.
We were getting pretty hungry. So we left Puna Pau and headed back to Hang Roa.
We headed toward the ocean and the cliffs at the edge of Hang Roa.
Stopping to enjoy the view......
The restaurant I had as number one on my list was also along the ocean side; Neptune Island which was closed during our stay, so was Vero's pick, Haka Honu (by the way, just like Hawaiian, Honu means turtle in the Rapa Nui language....Vero was tickled that I new what it meant). So we headed up to the northern edge of Hanga Roa, close to where we went looking for Moai when we first arrived. A place named Te Moana...which was open!
Apparently, this is a very popular spot because of the wonderful view.
There was no one in the place when we arrived, rather early for dinner. We sat at a small table near the back door of the dining area, which would turn out to be good location for us. Our Server was a very warm and friendly guy and he quickly brought out some rolls to start things off.
The Missus had Her Pisco Sour, not too sweet and I, a Mahina Pale Ale.
After having empanadas, hot dogs, and papas, over our last three meals, we really wanted to start eating well. This was an island.......where was the seafood?
Well here of course.
Starting with the Duo de Pescado not cheap at 17,000CLP ($25/US).
While I wasn't a big fan of the carpaccio; that cheese and fish with capers thing just didn't seem a great match. And then add mustard? Oh, and the soy sauce here is not to my liking either. But that Ceviche was divine. This version had sesame oil on it along with lime applied with restraint. The tuna was super tender, sparkling fresh, and delicious. Puts all the faux poke I've been eating recently to shame. This is in another league.
And after eating almost nothing green for a couple of days; we enjoyed the veggies.
The Missus had never had Poisson Cru, so I ordered the Ceviche Te Moana 15,000 CLP (about $22/US), which was made with lime and coconut milk much like the classic Tahitian dish.
The Missus was smitten; She just loved the clean interaction of flavors that both the coconut milk and the lime gave to this dish. The fish being sparkling fresh really helped too. The portion size was also quite generous. The shrimp was nicely fried and quite tasty. And of course...Island life, how many starches do you see? That jasmine rice was terrible, but the bananas and local potatoes were pretty good.
By now the place was starting to fill up and the service kind of slowed down....but heck, you need to slow down when you're on Isla de Pascua, take a chill pill and relax. What's the rush? After all, you can't make the sun set any sooner, can you?
As the sun started to set, I joined the Missus outside to enjoy the windy sunset.
Wonderful fish, great view, what else do you need?
Te Moana Policarpo Toro Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Valparaiso, Chile
The rain was starting to come down and the wind was picking up as we drove back to the cabanas. I was kind of enjoying things, having a Mahina on the front porch, when I got a visit from one of "the locals"......
** 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.
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.
In the Rapa Nui language "Papa" means large flat stone and "Vaka Ama" means outrigger canoe. This site was named after the large - 12 meter long canoe carved into the stone.
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.
As much as I enjoyed staying at the Lastarria Boutique Hotel, there was one little problem. The floorboards creaked quite loudly when walking on them. I was always worried about waking folks. Then the folks staying in the unit above us got back at about 2am; slamming the door and stomping about. I couldn't get back to sleep! Our shuttle came to pick us up at 5am and I was exhausted by the time our flight left at 750. In what I would consider a great stroke of luck, when I booked our flight to Hanga Roa, I noticed how cheap the business class fare was, so I just jumped on it. The prices for business class on the return was somewhat prohibitive, so that was a no-go. I was just glad to be able to sleep for a couple of hours during the 6 hour flight to Hanga Roa. LAN has fairly new 787s which are quite comfortable. There's one flight a day; to and from Hanga Roa. Five days of the week from Santiago and two from Tahiti; that's it. So it seems like quite a big deal when a flight arrives.
The place we were staying at had arranged for a shuttle from the airport. First thing you do after going down the stairs and walking off the tarmac is to go and get your tickets for Parque Nacional Rapa Nui. Most of the island, other than Hanga Roa is a National Park and you need admission for two of the sights. The tickets are good for 5 days from the first day of entrance; though you're only allowed one visit to Orongo and one visit to Rano Rarako. Also, there seemed to be random checks at various sights.
Having checked no luggage meant that we got to our shuttle quickly as the exit mob soon formed. It might look like a lot of people, but there really weren't any crowds at any of the sights we visited. Everyone else in business class on the flight (it was a Monday morning) seemed to be construction folks....I guess they've made this journey many times and have a nice stash of miles.
Funny thing; the place we were staying at; the wonderful Marae - Cabañas Premium was maybe a 15 minute walk from the airport! We could have walked over! The woman running this little compound of 3 cottages; named Vero was just fantastic. The cottages were huge! She also coordinated a vehicle for us; the Missus didn't want a tour, so we got a little Daihatsu Terios which was just perfect for our needs.
Of course, as soon as the vehicle arrived, the Missus just needed to see some Moai! So, to get adjusted to the vehicle, I drove thru the single main street of Hanga Roa, Atamu Tekena, and went to the North end of the town. I was told to look for the "cemetary". I found some parking on the street.......
Just north of these replica Moai along the rugged shoreline is the area known as Ahu Tahai.
There are three "Ahu" (shrines) here.
"Vai Ure" has five Moai of various sizes and in various states. Right to the north is Tahai. Worn and eroded; this Moai has a gaunt haunting look. Right past Tahai is Ko Te Riku, with the traditional top knot called a Pukao, which were carved from a reddish volcanic stone known as scoria. We'd actually visit the single quarry that produced the pukao later on the trip. For some reason, the eyes, which were painted based on a replica found during the 70's kind of creeped me out.
Easter Island had always been on the Missus' bucket list and She just couldn't take enough photos of the Moai......she'd take nearly 800 during our short time in Easter Island.
After the Missus had Her fill of photos, we decided to grab lunch. So we headed back to Hang Roa proper. Unfortunately, this being Monday, lunch option #1 was closed (named Casa Esquina they'd also be closed on Tuesday), as was option #2. We had parked the car along the main street on Hanga Roa.
We saw that this place was doing some pretty good business. A shop named "Club Sandwich".
The place had an interesting mix of tourists and locals. I'd come to find out that this was one of the more affordable places to eat in Hanga Roa.
So we decided to order a couple of things....I saw a couple of huge burgers being delivered to tables....it was just too much. So we ordered two empanadas and I was curious about the Hot Dog with Egg....Chileans love their hot dogs.....man, this was pretty over-the-top.
The bun was toasted, but really nothing special; nor was the hot dog. The best thing about this were the eggs......good eggs on Easter Island.
Not having really researched the empanadas, we were surprised at how large they were. The Missus got a cheese, which we ended up having for breakfast the next day.
I got the sausage version.
The good? Well, the salsa like condiment, which is basically Chilean "pebre" was really good, nice balance of spice-acid-salt. Think of this as a "pig-in-a-blanket" enrobed in an empanada shell...with cheese, lots of gooey cheese.
The meal was quite inexpensive; but not quite what the Missus thought we'd be having on Easter Island. Me? Well, this was island life.......especially walking into the markets.....it reminded me of visiting my grandparents; both in Honolua and Lana'i during the 60's and early 70's. And even growing up....Vienna sausage, Hot Dogs, Spam.......not very much in the way of "green" going on unless it was from your garden. It was all quite familiar.
Club Sandwich Atamu Tekena Easter Island, Chile
We did some quick shopping and headed back to our home away from home........
We had a nice nap, then headed back to town, taking the round about way along the ocean side. It was time for dinner, but unfortunately option #1 was closed the entire time we were there....and for some reason, due to darkness, I couldn't find option #2, which was the same option #2 we looked at for lunch. By now, the Missus was frustrated and told me, let's just head back and have the cheese empanada....talk about desperate times. Along the way, we passed what we thought was a little restaurant. Turned out, this was a sports/karaoke bar......man, just like home! Named Piroto Henua. Since we were along the main road right across from the airport, I just went to the side and the Missus ran in and asked about parking....which was in the lot behind the place.
This being a Monday night, not much was going on.
But he made the Missus a Pisco Sour to Her standards (not too sweet).....
And I got a bottle (I already had a six pack in the fridge that I hadn't touched) of the local brew; the Mahina Pale Ale.
Typical; light, nice, white head, slightly fruity, easy to drink.
Looking at the menu, I decided on what I thought would be a typical bar dish.....and decided on the Chorrillana Classico. The origin of which is subject of debate; it's either Peruvian originating from Chorrillos or classic Chilean pub grub. But at this moment, we really didn't care.
Loved the flower presentation by the way. For me, this tasted like Lomo Saltado...with much more fries, crowned with fried eggs.....so for a San Diego; think of it as thick cut carne asada fries topped with an egg. Talk about classic bar food.
I believe this was 11,000CLP; about $16.50. This wasn't bad at all, except for the papa fritas which were a bit on the cardboardish side. Still, what do you expect? We quickly found that the eggs on Easter Island tasted really good. I'd take this over TGIFriday's any day of the week.
Piroto Henua Hotu Matua Easter Island, Chile
Funny thing, we were now on the road in front of the airport. Our cabanas was close by. The Missus had some landmarks in mind as to where to turn....unfortunately, the landmarks were statues alongside the airport. Remember that I mentioned that the airport features one flight a day? So what happens after the flight leaves? Well, they close down the "International" Airport of course. So that side of the road was completely dark. Still, this is Hanga Roa.....I had recalled a stone wall and some shrubs and turned there. Island life remember? As in typical instructions when I was growing up...."go mauka, turn left befoa' da long stone wall....wen' you see the white wall on your left and the beeeg hedges on the right, you dea', ok"?
In case you've noticed I've been gone for a couple of days. Only had a short time for a trip this time around. So, I thought we'd knock some items off the Missus' "bucket list". Which conveniently meant heading back to one of my favorite cities when it comes to food.
And we weren't disappointed in the least.
If anything, things have gotten even better!
Our other stops were fairly good as well.
And then there were the places. One photo tells it all.
Just a beautiful place, where every photo becomes a postcard.
And where I learned that it's ok to go down some tight, dark hole.....
Because the payoff can be amazing.
Sort of like the sunsets.
And the places are the stuff of legend.
Even the dogs (though not the cats) are chill.
It all makes for a good story over a cold one.
We were even able to take care of a second bucket list item as well.
Overall, until today, it seems like one big layover......early mornings, with so much time spent in airports, or long drives. But tonight, I have time to regroup. With a cold one and the view from our room.
We've got one more day. And hopefully a couple good meals left before heading home. So I'll be back soon.