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Sunday 30th May - Santiago to Easter Island
By Claire
Wednesday, 2nd June 2004 21:40

Because it was our last day in Santiago we got up late and ate all our left-over food that we couldn't take with us. I phoned Rupert because it was his birthday party and he'd invited us to his barbecue. Unfortunately we couldn't make it, as we were supposed to go to Easter Island rather than Worcester today, but it was great to talk to all my family anyway.

Mikey had found the Grand Prix on the television so he, and a couple of other guys from the hostel, sat and wached for a couple of hours while I looked Tahiti up on the intertnet.

At about 2pm we left for the airport and checked our bags in. A lady with some large, paper-wrapped boxes asked us to take them to Easter Island for her, which I was actually very cross at, because I couldn't imagine anyone being stupid enough to take someone else's luggage on a plane. After confirming our onward flight to Tahiti and avoiding the people trying to offer accommodation on Easter Island, we headed for the departure lounge and some doughnuts.

It turned out that the flight was five hours rather than the three we were expecting, but that Easter Island was two hours behind Santiago so we'd arrive roughly when we were expecting to. I was a bit disappointed with the LanChile service on this flight: we had to get our own drinks after the initial post-take-off rush and the stewardesses were nowhere to be found. But I watched a reasonable Jack Nicholson film that contained a cute doctor and played tetris and read Mikey's book for a while, so it was all fine.

Rapa Nui, Easter Island, was much, much warmer than I was expecting. There were palm trees in the airport, and it was very humid. The terminal building is tiny, but apparently the runway has been extended recently to serve as an emergency landing site for the space shuttle, which is quite cool. While we waited for our bags we watched people being greeted with flower garlands, and then we went to find somewhere to stay. It was about 9pm local time, and because only two flights come from Chile each week in low season, all the people with hostels or hotels stand at the airport as the plane gets in to attract customers. We'd been recommended to find 'Anna Something' in the 'middle desk' and we were surprised to see Ana Rapu waiting at the centre kiosk thingy. She took us and another couple to her truck, and I got to sit in the trailer with the luggage, mostly because I asked to, and we headed off to Easter Island.

There is a sinlge town on the island, called Hanga Roa, and there are about ten streets, many of them dirt tracks. We bumped along for about ten minutes and clambered out of the truck. Ana's hostel was fine, scary magenta satin bedspreads on the beds in our room, weird chipboard walls, but nothing we couldn't handle. We finally met someone who was doing a version of our trip. Up 'til now there had been about three types of travellers that we'd met: the gap year / post-university student types who have nothing else to do (many of whom, mostly boys, unfortunately turn 'ethnic' with beads and embroidered shirts and too much hair); the couples in their mid-thirties (often French) on a three-week holiday to somewhere unusual, with or without their children, and those in their mid to late 50s whose children have left home and who have enough time and money to go somewhere different. We had so far been the only ones who'd sold up and quit jobs to travel, but here there were a few more. Some of them were doing our exact trip just in reverse.

Ana, the hostel lady, was very friendly and spent a couple of minutes showing us a map of the island. One of the reasons we wanted to stay with her was that we'd heard that she organised excellent tours, but she suggested that we hire a car instead. She also said that if we were up by sunrise, about 6, there were some moai (giant stone heads) visible from the hill in her garden. Thinking it unlikely, but encouraged anyway, we got to sleep by about 11pm to the sounds of crickets and the wind in the palm trees.

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