Our original plan was visit the museum first. When we got there it was closed, which was a bit aggravating as we had been told it was closed Sunday and open the other days. Turns out it was open Sunday and closed Monday. Grrrr.
There was only one more stretch of dirt road to explore. From the popular sunset spot heading north is a dirt road which meets up with the one we walked on the day before. This small complex has two seventeenth century restored ahu, but only one with a standing moai, along with an enclosed stone garden or chicken coop and some rubble. Tradition says each new king lived for a while near Ahu Akapu. A nearby school taught the king the art of engraving tablets with rongo-rongo script.
We continued driving up the bumpy road to another section of the National Park. The park ranger was playing a game of chess with his friend off to the side of the hut. While Bill was having our tickets stamped, I spoke a bit with the other player. I noticed his arm was sporting a large tattoo of the rongo script. I had read it has not yet been deciphered as there are not enough of the original writings to do that. I asked him about that and was told it tells about the culture of the Rapa Nui people, which I had assumed.
The first cave we came to, Ana Kakenga, is a lava tube about 50 meters long and was used as a shelter. We weren’t quite sure if what we saw was the cave but the entrance did fit the description. Some cut rock had been used to make the mouth of the cave smaller and make a narrow passage. This helped control those who entered and exited. Deciding this had to be it, Bill waited outside while I carefully crept down into the entryway. There was no head room so I had to be very careful as I crept deeper into the cave. Again, with my iPhone flashlight not being very bright, I could not see well enough to desire to go much further. Banging my head on an overhead rock was not in the plan. There were supposed to be two openings at the other end which face the sea and an islet, but I left that for someone else to enjoy.
The next cave, Ana Te Pora, is also a lava tube but has more head room. It was used as both a shelter and ceremonial place long ago. People also hid in them during wars. We both went into this one and exited not too far along. At this point there is a continuation which descends into the next section with a tree growing out of it. Bill stayed outside while I ventured onwards. It was pretty dark so I didn’t go very far.
On the way into town we passed the current cemetery. It is filled with a mix of Christian and Rapa Nui icons. There are no funeral companies on the island so the people have to make all the arrangements, from building the coffin to transport to the cemetery. The dead are always buried with their heads to the Pacific Ocean. Wildflowers grew everywhere and made for a more wild than manicured look.
Our last dinner was closer to this area with another view of the ocean. The food was quite tasty, Bill’s being the best he had had. I had a risotto with fish and lemon and cheese which I loved.
The next morning we were going to take a taxi to the museum, but needed pesos which we didn’t have. There was no where close to get any so we hung around the hotel using the wifi until the owner took us to the airport. There was supposed to be wifi there, but it wasn’t working. Being a small airport we had to wait until closer to the flight to go through security. Once we did, we were in an area open to the outside. People milled about and took photos of the waiting plane, a moai, and a few other items including a memorial to the joint effort of the US and Chile to extend the runway. in 1987 the Easter Island airport was to be used as a possible landing for the space shuttle which required a modification.
Both legs of the trip back to Mexico were with lie flat beds. We didn’t need them for the first one, but the second one was delayed by several hours. Fortunately, we were able to use the Latam lounge which is much bigger and was more crowded. We didn’t see anywhere to stretch out, but there was plenty of free food and drinks. This one had showers, but at that point we didn’t feel a need. We finally took off in the wee hours and did stretch out to sleep for about five hours, skipped dinner, and took advantage of breakfast. We missed our Interjet flight back to Costa Rica. Thankfully, Latam had told the other airlines of the delay due to bad weather, perhaps smog, in Mexico and to help passengers get to where they needed to go. The agent with Interjet did get permission to put us on the next flight, about nine hours later. As we weren’t on a connecting flight with Latam we couldn’t use the lounge, but they seemed to make an exception as long as we paid thirty dollars each. This time we did take showers which helped me feel not as yucky after the long wait and three hour upcoming flight. We arrived home about midnight rather than midday, but it wasn’t too bad.
I am so glad I chose Easter Island as the destination for my birthday. It was really cool learning about the culture and just being on a remote speck of land way out in the South Pacific.