Easter Island was never on our itinerary. But because we got sick, and because anywhere east of Lima was unattainable for us by land due to the Andes’ giant barrier of high altitude stretching vertically from Venezuela all the way from south to the tip of Argentina, our choices were; stay put, travel along the coastline or fly.
Being one of the furthest places to reach from anywhere, Easter Island is the definition of remote. The closest destination, I think, is Santiago, which is six hours west by plane into the Pacific Ocean. In other words, impossibly far from Europe. Since we were already more than halfway there, and since we probably wouldn’t be getting closer than this for a long time, we decided to take the long haul to the far flung reaches of the ocean. Thank goodness for sihpromatums and their ability to turn negative into positive.
It would take us three flights and more than 20 hours in transit. Starting in Arequipa, we flew to Lima, waited a few hours before flying to Chile’s capital city, Santiago, slept just 5 hours in the incredible Holiday Inn just across the street, then boarded the final flight from Santiago to Hanga Roa AKA Easter Island.
On the plane from Santiago we watched the classic “Grease”, Kees’ first time EVER. To give a bit of background, Kees grew up in a very poor area of Amsterdam with his single mother and three siblings. To put it bluntly, he was in the worst area imaginable, the kind of place that people would shutter at mere mention of, “Bijlmer” in the 1970’s. While everyone was raving about the new release of the movie “Grease”, grooving the groove and reenacting songs and dances by John Travolta, flashing their “Grease” buttons and pins, Kees could only imagine and live vicariously. Of course, he could never afford to go to the actual THEATRE and back then there was no TV or Netflix or Internet to surf or download it. That didn’t stop him from memorizing every single line of every song, like everyone else. The only thing was, he didn’t know what the story was behind the songs he was singing. Amazingly, after ALL these years it wasn’t until sitting on an airplane headed to EASTER ISLAND, sitting next to his Canadian girl, that he finally watched it.
Being able to hold his hand while a part of his missing childhood was completed was pretty special. I feel so proud to see how far he has come from growing up in the slums to exploring the far reaches of the world. With me of all people!
I often feel undeserving of the opportunities I have been given, especially sitting next to Kees who has worked so hard to dig himself out of the poverty he was born into.
When you arrive on the island, everyone is greeted with freshly-made flower necklaces. Climbing down the steps of the airplane, the warm, windy air hit us and we’d arrived on holiday all over again.
I was grateful we had the middle row on the flight so I couldn’t see the landing out the window. I instantly felt the size of the island, the sound of the ocean seemed to caress me from wherever I stood. For those who fear flying, I almost don’t want to mention that the runway is the length of the island, leaving no room for error.
We would be on the island for a week. Partly because I hate flying, so doing the long haul twice in a couple days would make me crazy and also, a lot of reviewers said it could rain (like it has!) and to give a buffer day or two.
We were taken to one of the nicer hotels, Hotel Rapa Nui. I think a common misconception about Easter Island may be that because of the immense fame surrounding it and high prices, it naturally is fit for luxury travel. Amazingly, despite the high costs to get and stay there, you are lucky to have working internet or have a reliable, hot shower. For heaven’s sake, remember you are on a tiny island HOURS by airline from land. That alone is spectacular enough to experience. All-inclusive is pretty much out of the question, and once you understand that, you will have the most amazing time because the island is beautiful, wondrous and accessible. Despite the whopping $180/night and slightly musty air and unreliable warm water, it was comfortable. What I liked about it was the laid-back, cozy atmosphere with little gardens leading to the rooms.
The island has a very relaxed, backpacker feel (minus the backpackers) about it. Down the couple main streets, the shops mostly consist of tour operators, car rentals, restaurants, internet, money exchange and souvenirs.
There is a bonus, it’s a paradise destination that only few can access, so it doesn’t have all the hassle that goes with a typically touristic destination.
Our hotel has a beautiful setting and great location right on a main street, so access to restaurants and renting a motorcycle was extremely convenient. One thing that surprised me was all the Tsunami warnings and evacuation routes, even the hotel information booklet had instruction in case of a tsunami. I asked a local and they said it never happens, but it was still pretty discomforting.
We didn’t waste any time and immediately went out to explore. The walk along the coastline is perfect for a stroll, palm trees, green grass and lots of wild dogs to keep you company. There was a perfect amount of warm breeze coming in from the ocean, no one to hassle you, and the most amazing part, the statues are everywhere on the island.
Because we basically just stepped on a plane to Easter Island we had zero time to prepare. I had the misconceived notion that there would be a certain spot to see the historic statues, and that it would be surrounded by fences and entry fees etc etc.
But that’s not the case at all. They are everywhere along the coast line, open for viewing without being obscured by guards or fences or signs. The only small barrier from the mysterious statues a row of small rocks or a stone with an X
We spent our first night just a short walk from our hotel and watched the sunset over the row of Moai statues who have stood and watched thousands before us.
Categories: Savannah Grace