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Monday 31st May - Easter Island
By Claire
Wednesday, 2nd June 2004 21:42

We had marzipan-filled pancakes for breakfast, which were very nice. We asked about hiring a car for the day and it arrived within five minutes. Mikey was shown how it worked, I got mauled by an excited alsatian puppy, picked up our raincoats, a map and the cameras and we headed into town in a tiny little jeep. The local supermarket had very little in the way of supplies, so, armed with just a chocolate bar and the certainty that someone somewhere would sell us lunch, we took the only road out of town in search of the famous giant heads.

The island, about 18 miles long, is a triangle of volcanoes with some grass and hills in between. The one main road, mostly paved (there are countless muddy jeep-tracks), does a circuit along the southern coast, cuts across the eastern corner and then heads back to Hanga Roa in the south west through the middle. The map had little symbols for the moai but no scale, and after half an hour of driving slowly and hoping, we'd only seen the sea. Then, suddenly there was a dirt track to our right, Mikey drove down it with relish and bumps, and we'd found our first moai. After that, though, we didn't see any for ages. We stopped to watch fantastically huge green waves crash against the black volcanic rocks and explode in enormous clouds of spray and foam, and then asked the driver of the only other car around, where we were on the map.

We were very close to the mountain where the heads were made (and several inches from where I thought we should be), so we headed that way, off road for a bit, through some unnecessarily large mud puddles (just for fun) into a little car park. On the mountain were hundreds (or at least fifty) massive carved faces staring out over the countryside. Most of them were well over 25 feet tall, and beautiful. They all looked so solemn and wisdomous and a bit sad too. We took far too many photos, bypassed a bunch of uncharacteristically friendly German tourists, and climbed the hill to the top. It turned out that the hill was actually a volcano, and the crater in the middle was filled with water. There were a load more moai this side, burried in pink grass and yellow gorse bushes. We took more pictures, I fell down a little mountain and got very muddy, and we went back to the jeep. Only a few hundred yards down the road was a line of fifteen really huge moai with their backs to the sea. Time for more photos, then back along the road. We spent the whole day like this, driving through any and all available mud, stopping at every giant head along the way, finding beautiful sandy beaches and eerie collections of stone statues, a sandwich kiosk, herds of horses, pink hills, more spectacular scenery. We ended back in Hanga Roa as it was getting dark and we watched the sun set and enormous waves crash against the rocks until we couldn't see any more. I changed out of my muddy trousers and we went out to a restaurant for supper. We planned to get up at 5am to see the sun rise over the moai by the beach, so I was asleep very quickly.

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