and Santiago too.....
23.10.2010 - 02.11.2010
I met up with my friend Katie at the Santiago airport and after a 13 hour delay..... we finally made it to Easter Island!!! I have to say that Easter Island is in my top 3 travel destinations! It was absolutely peaceful and wonderful to explore the island (either by walking or driving around) and come across the most incredible moai that were carved, moved and placed (and knocked down and restored) hundreds of years ago.
Easter Island is in the middle of the pacific ocean literally over 1500 miles to the next inhabited island (some tiny islands in the south pacific) and over 2000 miles to mainland South America. I definitely felt the remoteness of the island which enhanced the mystery of why people made these incredible stone carvings to begin with. No one knows for sure who originally discovered and populated the island, although the main theory is people from the Polynesian islands rowed outrigger canoes across the pacific to mainland chile and then backtracked and settled easter island. Crazy! It is guessed that there were at least a few separate tribes which carved the moai in a kind of my moai is bigger than your moai kind of way. When the tribes ultimately ran out of living resources on the island fighting commenced and literally ALL of the moai on the island were toppled over and many broken or destroyed in the process. Few people either survived or remained on the island after this period thus the loss of history. Even now only about 4,000 people live on the island and they all pretty much seem to make a living on supporting us tourists.
Here is a favorite shot of one of the largest Moai.
The island is a volcanic island that is rocky and a little grassy and full of wild horses (along with the requisite stray/street dogs) that seem to have pretty much free range of where ever they choose on the island. It was not unusual to see horses wandering through town - although the dogs like to claim this area and would bark them away from time to time.
One of my favorite spots on the islands was the quarry where all of the moai were carved. There are hundreds of moai still in the nursery as it is also called in various stages of completion. Many are heads or upper torsos leaning out of the grassy hills seeming ready to lurch to life and meander down the hill. Personally I think that most of these were not intended to be moved to permanent sites and were in fact completed and meant to be in a group here. Who really knows. Here is a shot of the nursery.
Here is one last shot of some of the moai that were restored even though many of them were pretty damaged in their fall.
One last comment on Easter Island, the food and especially the local beer - Mahina - were all excellent. We understand that nearly all ingredients have to be imported to the island, but they then brew Mahina and we loved it!!!! If you have a quirky beer importer, you should request it (although we don´t know if they export all all).
After Easter Island we have been spending some time in Santiago and the Andes mountains about an hour away from Santiago. It is your typical large city and we have been enjoying exploring and eating and drinking. A couple items of note, the earthquake last February is still pretty visible. Many buildings are missing parts of their facades and lots of places are under construction. Many places are now closed while repairs are ongoing so we have learned we need to call ahead to whatever we plan to do to see if it is open.
We were however lucky to find one of the local wineries open and had a great afternoon at Cousina Macul. We loved the wine tour and the wine!! They told us that a majority of the wine from the last harvest which happened right at the time of the earthquake was destroyed which has caused a shortage of wine and beer in Chile as it is common here that all wine that is produced is released into the market when it is ready. They don´t seem to have the practice of holding back wine and aging it longer. So we have been drinking imported Peru beer and we understand that chilean wine is much more expensive then normal (shocking since you can get a decent bottle for $5 and good bottle for $10-$15!). An interesting thing we noticed is that all wine lists here are organized by grape, region of harvest and producer. There is no date of harvest ever on the menus. Date of production has no real meaning here since they release all of their wine. I think nearly every bottle we have ordered was a 2008 and they have all been delicious!!
Last update. As always I have been reading a lot. I finished Cutting for Stone which was a fabulous novel set in ethopia. It was hard to put down, even at Easter Island - I highly recommend it!! I also just finished a Jane Austen Classic Pride and Prejudice.
We are off to Buenos Aires tomorrow. More updates to come. Hope everyone had a great Halloween!!