Around the World for the 1st time [Day 8] Start sightseeing in Rapa Nui
First moai I’ve ever seen
Breakfast at the inn is served outside, and the inn’s dog is adorable, and although it is mid-summer in Rapa Nui in February, the mornings are pleasantly cool and dry. After renting a car at the inn, we depart for the long-awaited island tour! The roads in Rapa Nui are quite off-road, so I used a MT Jimny. And it is interesting because it is left-hand drive!
Before leaving in the rental car, I had a strange feeling. On the contrary to the feeling of wanting to come to Rapa Nui, which I have longed to visit since my childhood, and to tour the island as soon as possible, I felt satisfied just staying here, looking up at the sky and breathing the air, and not having to go anywhere else. A feeling akin to sadness that once I know the island, I can never go back to the time when I didn’t. I still cherish that feeling.
Although I have a minimal tourist map, I don’t rely on it, but run in the direction We want to go, following my instincts and intuition. However, there are no complicated roads on the island, so there is no need to get lost. Then, while driving along the road by the sea, I found the first moai! This is the first moai I encountered in my life. I named him “Sweet First” because he was the first one I met.
Once we had fully enjoyed the Sweet First, we drove along the coast with the ocean on our right. I thought moai were everywhere on the island, but that was not the case. And even more than the moai is the island’s natural beauty! Once we leave Hanga Roa, where there is a concentration of lodges and stores, the plains just spread out! The wide open sky! The blue sea! And the good smells! The roads are paved, but there are many places where the pavement has peeled off and the roads are off-road. As we go along such off-road mixed roads…
Te Ara O Te Moai
Behind a sign that read “Te Ara O Te Moai,” there was a moai that had fallen forward. The moai are basically fenced off like this. A mermaid dressed in the same outfit. I said, “This moai looks like it would jump up if I clapped my hands!” We both laughed out loud!
And from here we headed to Rano Raraku. This is the mountain where the moai were carved out. This is the most major spot in Rapa Nui and is definitely visited by tourists. The moai of Rano Raraku are scattered on the slope of the mountain, which faces south-southwest. Therefore, in the morning, the moai are in the shade and do not photograph well. However, if you don’t go there first thing in the morning, many other tourists will come and disturb you to take pictures. Especially if a Chinese bus tour comes, you will feel hopeless. Even if it is good for people to be in the picture, Chinese people often wear flashy clothes in primary colors, and I don’t want to take pictures of people in those tickly shades crowding around the moai. Rarely do tourists like us rent cars to get around in small groups, and most of them are bus tours.
As you go back from the reception of Rano Raraku, you will hit a mountain and a small path separates you to the left and right. To the right is the so-called Rano Raraku. You will meet the moai. Show your ticket at the reception and get a stamp on the back of the ticket. Then, fill in your passport number (you will not remember this, so you can write it down as you like), name (you can use your country’s characters), and country in the notebook, and the caretaker will explain the precautions to you. I felt embarrassed to be told such things as “Do not get on the moai,” “Do not go inside the fence,” and “Take your garbage home with you. I blame the Chinese.
Caldera Lake in Rano Raraku
There is a moai sitting upright at the back of Rano Raraku, and I thought I took a picture of it, but I don’t have one. Well, I will upload it somewhere. After enjoying the moai on the right and the spectacular view, we took the first fork to the left…
It will be on the back side of the slope of the mountain in Rano Raraku. I think it is 1 km or more one way. It was quite a walk. On the way, a dirty and smelly stray dog started following us, which was a little depressing even for a dog lover like me, but it seems that this dog is kept for horse chasing. There is a small lake here, and moai can be seen at the back of the lake. I wanted to go that far, but there is a fence around the lake. The horses are grazing on the growing grass in Rano Raraku in the early morning when there are no tourists.
When we returned from the lake, the slope side was completely lightened.
There is a little food court and souvenir store in front of the reception of Rano Raraku, where you can take a break. There were chickens, cats, and dogs there.
Two girls are walking along the seaside from Rano Raraku. It was amazing that they had walked this far under this blazing sun, but I had no idea how far they might go on the endless road from here…. These girls hitchhiked and I gave them a ride. I forgot which country they were from, but they understood English. They said, “How did you walk all the way to this place? And I can’t believe you were going to walk this far!” I told them, and they said they thought so themselves. Apparently there was going to be a festival, and her uncle and aunt were there and wanted to join them. When we heard that, we said, “A festival? We’re going! ” We were all excited.
Before that, we stopped by Ahu Tongariki. The tsunami had destroyed everything there, and when it was broadcast on “Sekai Fushigi Hakken! broadcast, Tadano Ltd. brought cranes and other equipment to Rapa Nui in 1992 and succeeded in restoring and repairing the moai statues in Ahu Tongariki, in the southern part of the island. The company also donated the used cranes and other equipment to Easter Island.
After leaving Tongariki and following the girls’ directions for about 15 minutes, we arrived at Mount Pui. There were dozens of cars parked on the road, and it was so crowded that I wondered where all these people had came from. It seems to be a traditional festival of Rapa Nui called “Banana Peel Sliding,” where people compete for speed by sliding down the mountain slope. It seems that in the old days they really used banana peels to slide. Now they ride on small sleds. The speed is so fast that the fastest speed exceeds 100km/h, and sometimes people die.
Having enjoyed the festival, we return to the car and continue our drive. Except for Anakena Beach, Rapa Nui’s coast is littered with pitch black lava rocks and no beach. Still, we wanted to see the border with the ocean, so we picked a suitable spot and got out of the car. What! This color! The azure sky, white clouds, emerald green sea, green grasslands, jet-black lava! Everything is great!
Then we got back in the car and were driving again when we came across horses. In Rapa Nui, there are wild horses and cows, and they live in a relaxed atmosphere. In the town of Hanga Roa, there are horses walking around and drinking water from the dive store’s water tank. I think this kind of scenery where people and animals live in harmony is unique to Rapa Nui. Oh, yes, there are also many wild dogs.
Back at the inn, we boiled Somen and Soba noodles that we brought from Japan and had dinner. Of course, there is no gas stove in the guest room. I think we rented a kitchen, but I forgot.