The touristy bit turns A OK: Ranu Raraku and the history teacher
Easter Island Travel Blog› entry 4 of 4 › view all entries
So I woke up that day at a very early hour, and drove up Ranu Kau to check the sunrise. Killin'!
On my way down, I decided I felt like meeting new people, so I drove to Aku Aku, and signed in for a day tour of the island. On paper it did not sound that exciting, since some months before I'd already visited all of the places, but I was hoping I'd get to know interesting people and learn a bit from expert historians.
Along came the bus to pick me up at Tekena, and I almost fainted. At a first glance, my youngest day companion was in his early 80's. Not that I discriminate...but I was a bit disappointed, to be honest.
But then we stopped at a last hotel, and out walks Xavi, the Spanish history teacher. And behind him, an argentinian dad with his teenage daughter.
The four of us and a brit chap clicked right away, and the day flew!
The southern coast in Rapa Nui is covered in evidence of what is described as the clan wars. It's strange, and wonderful and scary to realize moai are everywhere! It's just that, pushed over, on their face, sometimes you miss them. That's when I decided having signed for this tour had been a good idea after all.
Hundreds of moai and dozens of Ahus lead the way onto the quarry in Ranu Raraku, the beautiful volcano that silently tells you about the history and stories of the island. It's here where you hear, for instance, for the first time about the phallic resemblance of moai and how important the simile was for the sculptors...or the theory of Rapa Nui having been a matrilineal society in which men suddenly rose in a rebellion that left them as masters of the faith, yet still paying homage to the female figure.
It's on the foothills of Ranu Raraku that you can check the longest, largest moai (21 mts) and partly understand how artists worked to free them from the volcano's womb. Ranu raraku is the place where suddenly any stone could be looking at you...and it's atop it that you have the finest view of the island (regardless of what Mount Terevaka's fans state!). Plus, if you walk to its highest point, you'll see enormous holes dug/carved in the stone. Holes that add up to the mystery of how Moai walked/flew/were somehow transported to their current spots. 'Cause some say enormous poles were inserted in them, to which ropes were tied to kind of slowly lower the moai down the hill. Others, though, say the holes were the fridges the clans had, 'cause covered by algae they could preserve seafood for quite a while.
So up the hill we went! Xavi and I old time friends by then. Myself neurotically reminding him this was a much treasured Chilean archelogical site he should respect so that he wouldn't climb, touch and the lot...him lovingly hugging the moai he'd dreamed of getting to know since he was a child.
We made a pause for lunch and everyone enjoyed a lovely pisco sour (or two...or three...hahahha!) that made us forget about the hundreds of flies that lusted over our barbecued chicken and fish in the midst of a stupendous sycamore forest.
And then, we were off to Tongariki.
The 15 elders do look solemn.
They say seeing the sunrise from that spot is magnificent.
In Tongariki I also found out that the biggest part of restauration-financing has been donated by the Japanese Government. And that the huge earthquake that almost did away with Valdivia -in the continent- in the 60's had had a rebound wave that had ended up ravaging the north-eastern coast of the island...and that the sole proof, evidence, reminder of it is a lonesome moai lying on its back, in the middle of nowhere so to speak, inland, a kilometer and a half away from the Tongariki Ahu.
So that was that for the tour. After Tongariki we drove to Anakena and spent about an hour swimming and talking...or as Xavi puts it, cementing the foundations of new friendships (oooh, the optimism!).
Later that day a group of us, back in Hanga Roa, set for the sunset in Ta Hai...what can I say...not to miss!
And the day finished at Te Moana, with different kind of cebiches, more pisco sour, e-mail exchanges and the promises of keeping in touch.
All in all, another good day in "la isla"