“Oh you went to Easter Island! Tell me one neat thing about it.”
Yikes that is hard. Everything about it is “neat” to me. Every aspect. My brain just sort of… shuts down when I’m overwhelmed like that. But I think I’ve learned to just pick one thing in advance and go with that. I think I tell those who ask about the third cave that we saw on our third day there. There. That’s the one thing. Now you can feel like you’ve shown that you care. Phew. That story was short. Ha.
But really… I feel like I have to set up the situation a little bit. Like, how it feels to arrive in Easter Island.
Being from the prairie province of Manitoba, smack in the middle of Canada, we’re very landlocked. So the idea of flying on a jet five hours from Santiago to a tiny speck of an island that is alone in the midst of the Pacific Ocean, is unnerving.
So yeah, Easter Island is super-isolated in the physical sense. And it’s tiny. So tiny. You can see the entire thing just by looking out the window of the plane as you land. You see the cliffs bending up out of the water, green on the top, waves crashing below. Land. You see mountains formed by volcanos millions (billions?) of years ago. Volcanic mountains are so eerie-looking to me. They look fluid and strange. I suppose I just think this because of the time I spent in the Canadian Rockies, which are sharp and jagged. These are softer… and yet somehow seem more intense. (Perhaps because they’re VOLCANOES.)
I felt all this strangeness… this isolation… yet this feeling of closeness… and adventure.
Mostly though when we first landed I was like, “Ahhhhhhhh! We’re on Easter Island!!!! Never in my life did I ever think I’d visit this place!!!! Ahhhhhhh!” I was trying to convince myself that this was real.
Such a tiny airport, which of course has just one gate… but they have taken the time to label it “Gate 1”. Oh. THAT gate. It’s the one gate. Gate One.
We arrived at the baggage carousel, which was was pretty congested, given the volume of passengers on the plane, in contrast with the size of the airport as a whole. The plane we arrived on was huge. That surprised me. For some reason I had expected a prop plane… which wouldn’t actually make sense. I mean, one plane arrives per day, so that plane is going to be pretty big. Most planes arrive from Santiago, but I think once a week a plane also arrives from Tahiti, which is a mere 7-hour flight from Easter Island. And that’s one of their nearer “neighbours” (so to speak).
I noticed a lot of apple boxes on the carousel… and realized that there were actual apples in those boxes. They were shipping food on the plane we arrived on. Of course! It all makes sense once I think about it.
If you’ve booked accommodation before you arrive, there will be someone from your hotel or guesthouse waiting to pick you up, and they will welcome you with a lei.
The lei surprised me. I thought that was a Hawaiian thing. Are they just doing that because that’s how Hawaiian tourists are welcomed? Or is it a Pacific Island kind of thing and I was just unaware? Yeah… I never asked.
The lei was nice I guess but mostly I found it awkward. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be super-delighted or what. I was pleasantly surprised anyway, because flowers.
The drive from the airport to our guesthouse was short, because the airport is on the edge of the only town, Hanga Roa. I was pretty much in awe because this was when we first saw a moai statue as we drove along the shore; there’s one in town by the marina.
It’s such a thrill — I wanted to yell “stop the car” and leap out and go investigate. But, it’s a small place and we’d be there for a few days. First thing’s first, settle in.
More on that later.
Oh, and also I’m still reading Overbooked. I feel like much of what I’m reading dovetails nicely with thoughts I encountered while on Easter Island. More on this later as well. What can I say, I’m a slow processor.