Rano Raraku & The Last Moai

If you look really carefully, on the outside left of the half-crater-mountain has a lot of little dots on it. The road takes us nearer… and those dots transform into the heads of Moai, sticking out of the ground.

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“Ahhhhhh! It’s the quarry!” I shouted in Andrew’s ear. I wasn’t shouting to inform him — he knew. He was aware. But I was SO excited! I hadn’t expected it to look like this, it hadn’t occurred to me that it’d be so dramatic.

The mountain I’d been marvelling at was Rano Raraku, and there’s an extraordinary crater lake up there. We didn’t climb it though. I think it was supposed to be a 4-hour climb? We’ve missed a lot of extraordinary things on our trips… that was something else we’ve missed. We’re only human, we’re bound by time and space… we cannot see it all. Alas!

The quarry is on the edge of Rano Raraku. This is where the Moai statues all come from. There are almost 400 statues scattered about on the slopes of the quarry. But before we could get to the quarry entrance, we were nearly sidelined: Andrew was drawn to this trail…

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This is a long line of fallen Moai statues, apparently abandoned in the midst of transition. It starts with this one, and then a few feet away is another. Then another. Then another. For many miles!

But we had limited time and could not spend this day chasing this trail — fascinating though it would’ve been!

Rano Raraku is probably the biggest tourist site on the island, complete with a cafe. So this was our dining stop, we enjoyed an empanada and a cake, and then we were off!

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This delightful chicken also lives at Rano Raraku.

It’s a little difficult to recognize the fallen statues from photos, but anyway the site is positively littered with Moai in all various states:

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And then you turn a corner and BOOM, you’re in the midst of it! Moai sticking out of the ground everywhere!

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Walking along that path was a surreal experience.

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In the months preceding our trip, this meme about the Moai statues began circulating the internet quite aggressively: “Did you know??? The Easter Island heads actually have bodies!!!”

I was amazed too!

And then Andrew said, “They all have bodies. This is not new information. Thor Heyerdahl wrote about it in his book, Aku-Aku.”

Thor Heyerdahl was a Norwegian adventurer, who spent time adventuring and discovering and setting up statues on Easter Island in the 1950’s. (He also had been the force behind the Kon-Tiki expedition in the 1940’s.)

Some Moai are certainly smaller than others. Over time many became buried so that only the heads stick out, but Thor Heyerdahl discovered that they have bodies, and I’ve read about other adventurers before him, who knew about this in the 1880’s.

(Oh, internet. You make us think things all the time, that are not entirely true.)

The path climbs up the side of the mountainside quarry. Looking down at the way we’d come, it kind of looks like some of the statues are sliding down the hill on their bellies:

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And we saw the statues that were left incomplete, never to be released from the mountain…

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Around the bend, we looked down and saw Ahu Tongariki, where we had just been:

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On this lonely path, away from the Moai, you’ll find this one smaller statue called Tukuturi. He is kneeling, looking up in awe at the mountain:

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Folks say this is likely the last Moai created.

The last one.

He looks so… plaintive.

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In the shadow of Rana Raraku.

And here I present the very best tourist photo op. Everyone else pretends to be pushing over the statue… but not us:

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One last look…

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It’s like they’re drowning…

Okay, another last look. Can’t resist. They’re so photogenic!

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