A horse riding tour around the island and a walk up the volcano of Rano Kau
|me on Api|
Another dire night fighting the dogs, discos and cocks. But a lovely morning and I am looking forward to my horse riding experience this morning.
At 10.30 I bid good-bye to my husband who isn’t all that keen on wrecking his thigh muscles and drive off with Lionel and the other French couple to a barn. A dark grim looking man with a black scarf around his head greets us ‘Alo!’.
His name is Peti (not Peeti which obviously means something naughty in local Napa Rui) and he owns 200 horses.
|Peti my guide|
Within minutes he saddles the horses and the others all mount their horses leaving me on the ground. I am told that I shall go on my own with Piti on a ‘fast’ riding tour, they would be on a slow tour.
Moments later I find myself on a little horse called Ape riding up the valley with my gaucho on his stallion behind me.
He cracks his lariat and chases a few wild running horses around. We jump into immediate gallop and don’t ever seem to go much slower for the rest of our 3 hours tour.
The horses are great! They run without much pressure and their gallop is as smooth as warm margarine. And those primitive looking Rapa Nui saddles turn out to be very comfortable. So there we go, galloping our way along the green hills and into the vast empty countryside of the Island. Piti certainly has taken an eye on me and he thinks I or my riding is great.
|Easter Island has the perfect horse-riding countryside|
So he starts telling me that he is looking for a new wife having divorced his Chilean wife. He explains to me all his problems in Spanish (I hardly speak a word but I do understand bits and pieces) and laments that Napa Rui men and Chilean women can’t get along with each other because of many ‘problema di cultura’.
|stopping briefly for fabulous views across the vast ocean|
He thinks Europeans are much better! This all makes me slightly suspicious of his intentions. So when we finally reach the steep coast and he invites me to take a look at a cave, my inner warning system runs on full power.
We climb down to the cave. A few jar bones of whatever animal lay around and I secretly joke to myself that those are the remains of his last horse riding guests. I firmly recline an invitation to take a swim in one of the little water pools and am glad to sit on my friendly horse again.
|a view into the cave - but not more...|
We ride back along the coast and through some eucalyptus forest. It’s beautiful. Pite points out a few remains of houses and fallen moais and continues his Spanish conversation about women with me.
Time passes far too quickly and we realize we have to race back to be there in time to catch the others. The horses are still in very good form and we gallop back all the way. What an adventure!
Finally back at our pension I am so glad to be married to my wonderful English man Phil and not gaucho Mr. Piti! We immediately set off to use the rest of the day to explore the biggest volcano of the island, Rano Kau.
|at the Crater|
The crater is indeed very impressive. It’s a 200m deep perfectly round shaped whole in the middle of the sharp rim with pools of water in it.
The views across the rest of the island from here are very impressive. We walk to the rim and catch a view of the two islands that are closely linked to the famous ‘birdman cult’ that was practiced here 400 years ago.
After the megalith culture of the moais declined at the end of 14th century a new cult was born.
|downtown Easter Island: reminder of the Old Wild West!|
Various tribes of the island used to choose their new leader by exercising a special competition: the men had to race down the cliffs, swim out to these tiny islands and try to catch the first eggs laid by the sooty terns that would arrive in early spring.
The winner was the ‘birdman’ and new chief of the island for a whole year.
On our last evening we return to the German restaurant and have some simple spaghetti Bolognese. It turns out that Hermann even does tours for Studiosus, my travel agency, when groups come to visit the island.
The food is good, the wine wonderful and we are hoping for a good nights sleep. But alas it’s the same old story: the disco, the dogs and the mosquitoes all start their wild night at exactly 1am! Bon nuit!
PHIL:Day 71/25 April
There are five types of sound during the night, two soothing and three disturbing. The cicadas and the sound of the ocean are perfect for inducing sleep, but the cockerels, dogs and distant bass of the Hanga Roa disco scene drown them out.
Why do people in the Pacific islands keep dogs? It cannot be for security, nor is it evidently for love and companionship.
Why do all the most disturbing sounds happen at night? I guess the cockerels have a job to do, even if some of them seem to have their watches set to mainland time, but the dogs and the disco…..
|Allie's wild gaucho at the cave|
This morning there is yet another French couple staying at the pension – where does Lionel put them all?
Allie goes off for her horse-riding session, but still bemoans the unlikely windless atmosphere enshrouding the island which gives her the urge to go ballooning instead.
She returns after a wild ride across the remote west coast with a
Rapa Nui gaucho who,
amongst other things, apparently talked about his need for a woman and suggested
a naked swim in a cave. As far as I can tell she resisted his blandishments but
was clearly flattered by the horseman’s attempts at seduction.
The last afternoon is spent climbing (mostly by car) to the ancient settlement of Orongo where a bird-man cult developed in the 16th century.
|horses are an essential part of Easter Island|
I have visions of some kind of primordial Lillienthal with feathered wings strapped to his body, but alas, it appears the ‘bird-man’ merely (well, rather more than merely) swam the 2km to a nearby islet to be the first to collect a tern’s egg each spring.
This feat apparently entitled the winner to his choice of virgins from a nearby cave. Maybe that’s where Allie’s horseman got his ideas.
As if to re-inforce the
Rapa Nui legend an equally
wild-looking guide emerges from a nearby crater lake after a swim with his
young Australian girl protégée.