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Updated Nov 18, 2006......................................................................................

Easter Island

9/28/06—Easter Island—Day 1

We arrived in Easter Island around 10:00 am or 6:00 am Tahitian time, so there was no chance that the girls were going back to sleep at the hotel. The hotel rooms were a little odd with stained particle board for their walls, but the staff was friendly, the court yard was very pretty and we finally had a place with hammocks.

We went exploring and tried to get some lunch. Unfortunately, we discovered that most places don’t take credit cards, so we had to get cash first. We tried the ATM but discovered that it doesn’t work for foreign cards, so Darren went to get cash at the bank. At the bank, he discovered that he needed his passport to get cash, so he had to rush back to the hotel since the hotel closed in 15 minutes. He was able to get some cash, and then he went to the store to get some lunch. Unfortunately the store selection is very limited, so we had bread and water for lunch.

The hotel’s owner has a five-year old daughter, so the girls were able to play with the swings and tree house in the hotel’s courtyard. We wandered around town again to find something for dinner. We stopped at a place which was really expensive for what you got, but we were tired of walking around and we were very hungry.

We met a family from Switzerland who are sailing around the world. They were on the plane with us from Tahiti and they’re heading on to Chile. They invited us to join them in renting a car to tour the island tomorrow, so we’ll do that.

I put the girls to bed at 8:30 pm, which was only 4:30 pm per their body clocks, but I thought that the four hours sleep the night before and no naps would counter this. Unfortunately, even though they were really tired, they didn’t fall asleep until 10:30 pm.

Dominique swing
Annette swing

9/29/06—Easter Island—Day 2

We met the Swiss family and drove around the island. First we climbed the Rano Raraku volcano which was the “nursery” where the moai were carved. Dominique hiked all the way to the top. Annette was really tired so I carried her; she more interested in the flowers than the moai. It was really neat to see the partially completed moai being carved out of the stone. After that, we went to see the Ahu Tongariki, which is where the fifteen moai line up along the coast. It was really impressive. We ate lunch with the huge moai watching over us, and for the most part, with very few other people around. A couple of tour groups came but after taking a few pictures, they moved on. After lunch, we went to the island’s only beach, where there were some more moai. The girls played in the sand at the base of these huge moai. Dominique made an incredible village where she had a volcano providing thermal energy to heat the hot water for the village. After the beach, we made our last stop at the Rano Kau crator. We were all pretty tired so we didn’t stop to go into the national park or hike around the crater, but it looked very impressive.

When we returned the rental car, the Swiss family invited us to their guest house where they cooked dinner for us. It was so nice of them since we don’t have a kitchen and I wasn’t looking very forward to having an expensive, not good dinner. It also gave us a chance to talk to them about their travel. They’ve set up a not-for-profit organization (www.toptotop.org) to allow them to sail around the world, climbing the seven highest peaks, stopping at local schools to interest the kids in sports and the environment. They’ve been traveling for about four years, almost all by sailing with no motor, biking, walking and climbing everywhere they go. They were both really amazing people—experienced mountain guides and sailors, fluent in several languages, very knowledgeable and incredibly down-to-earth. What’s even more amazing is that they are traveling with their 17 month old daughter, and they are about a month away for having their second child. They will be in Chile while we’re there, so we may hook up with them again during our visit. Meeting the family really reflects why our trip has been so great. We’re meeting such interesting people who are doing such amazing things, yet when you meet them in the field, they’re doing the same things that we all do—fixing “boo boos”, preparing dinner etc. It all seems so achievable when you get out there and do it.

family heads
Annette head
picnic

9/30/06—Easter Island—Day 3

We were going to take a full-day tour of the island today, but we decided to skip it since we had a full day yesterday. Instead, we decided to wander around town and see if we could find a cool moai to purchase. Annette was acting really tired since they didn’t fall asleep until 10:00 pm again last night, so we didn’t spend too long looking. We came back to the hotel so that the girls could play for a while and we could work in some naps.

We found a place where locals eat which was much cheaper than the touristy restaurants, so we had empeńadas for dinner at the park, surrounded by seven friendly dogs. Darren and I thought we found a gold mine but unfortunately the kids didn’t like them too much. If they had, we’d probably eat them every day.

We’ve been using our really rough Spanish. I can actually understand about 70% of what people are saying when they speak slowly, but the problem is that I nod and show that I understand them, then they suddenly launch into turbo speed and I go down to around 10%. My speaking is much worse. I can remember some vocabulary, but I’m really rusty on conjugating the verbs. Still, it’s fun and I’m enjoying it. Darren also seems to be getting into it. The girls are also doing well. They’ve been watching a Spanish educational video to help them get comfortable with the language. It’s been great since they say “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank you” in Spanish very well (they were also doing it well in French in Tahiti). One funny moment was when Annette told the owners’ daughter in Spanish that she was beautiful. She was so proud of herself for speaking Spanish she told me that she told her “soy hermosa” since that’s what the princess says on the video. She actually should have dropped the “soy” since that means “I am”. Funny how one little word reverses the meaning. Oh well, she meant well and I’m glad she used her Spanish.

10/1/06—Easter Island—Day 4

We checked out a local picnic this morning. The family cooked a huge amount of traditional island food in a pit covered by banana leaves and invited the community to come and eat. We arrived at noon which is when it started, and there were probably close to 100 people lined up to get in. They all carried plastic bags or rubber tree leaves to hold the food they take. I couldn’t believe how much food there was available. We went to hear the music. We saw a man with a guitar but we didn’t hear anything, so after about an hour we left.

We’ve been walking everywhere since everything is easy to get to and it’s safe. It’s really neat that the locals still use horses as transportation, not just for joy rides. Most horses are not fenced but are branded and just wander around. We met four in the road as we walked back from the picnic and after a while, they wandered into someone’s yard to eat the grass under the clothes line. It’s really authentic country life here—it’s great. A hotel guest said it’s like Bali was 30 years ago before all the tourists. I hope it doesn’t lose its charm too quickly.

We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out at the hotel. The girls had fun climbing around the tree house and in the swimming pool, while Darren and I supervised from our hammocks.

horses in the road

10/2/06—Easter Island—Day 5

We rented a car again today to go back out exploring the island. The moais are just so cool, we had to get another look. We repeated the loop we took a couple of days ago and took lots more pictures. There were hardly any tourists at all today, so the horses had come right up to the moai. I think it’s fair to say that I was obsessed with the horses—it was so great seeing them freely wandering around these incredible statues. We had a picnic lunch at the beach and then returned to the hotel for the rest of the afternoon. One of the guests painted the girls nails since they were so in awe of her pretty pink nails—they really can’t wait to see Karris again to put on some make-up.

horses by moai
lunch

10/3/06—Easter Island to Santiago

It was a travel day today. As usual, the girls were great. We left the hotel around 11:00 and the owner dropped us to the airport and gave us a couple of his CDs of Rapa Nui music that he composed and produced. We’ve had such a great time on Easter Island since the people have been so friendly, we’re sad to be leaving.

We arrived in Santiago around 7:30 pm with the 2-hour time change, so now we’re on the same time as the U.S. again. Both Darren and I discovered that our limited Spanish is pretty critical since we needed it at the airport, getting the rental car, getting gas and following directions. I think we’re going to be walking around with our pocket dictionary and translators. Most of the people we talked to spoke very little English, and it’s going to get even more limited as we drive into the country. Still, we’re having a good time brushing of our Spanish.

It was about a 2.5 hour drive to our hotel in Santa Cruz, so we arrived around mid-night. That was only 10:00 pm per the girls body clocks because of the time change, but they were still really tired. I thought the hotel would be easy to find since it was in the Santa Cruz plaza, but there were no signs for the plaza. Fortunately, just when we thought we may have to stop for directions (not something I really wanted to do with our limited Spanish in a small town at mid-night), I took a right and found the plaza and the hotel. The good thing is that we’re in an area that’s not at all touristy. Along with that comes that fact that there are no signs, especially not in English. Anyway, we found the place, checked in and went immediately to bed. We’ve got a long day of driving ahead of us tomorrow.


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