Monday, 1 May 2017

Arrival at Easter Island

ALLIE: DAY 69: Monday, 23rd of April

flight into the middle of nowhere

Arrival at Easter Island, sunset over the moais and dinner with Herr Fritsch

The flight finally leaves at 4.35 am! What un uncivilized time. Sleep our way through as good as we can and arrive at 2pm local time (4hrs time difference) at the airstrip of Easter Island. Welcome to Chile!

disembarking our LAN flight onto Easter Island
A new country for me. Easter Island was one of the places that we both definitely wanted to see. And here we are: 4500km away from Tahiti and about the same distance from Chile in the middle of the Pacific ocean! What an exciting thought.
We have no idea where we are going to stay. But we are lucky and a French guy, Lionel, invites us to try his guesthouse a bit outside the town of Hanga Roa. It sounds like a good a reasonably cheap place. And indeed it is.

our little bungalow at Lionels
His three little bungalows are situated on a hill overlooking the bay of Hanga Piko and the volcanic mountain Rano Kau. The rooms are spacious (with 3 beds!) and have a lovely patio in front.
We are both a bit trashed from the long sleepless night, but there are things that need doing. We have to change money (no Visa cards accepted anywhere on the islands), hire a car and confirm and change our onward flight.

Finally everything sorted, a bit cash in our pockets (1000peso = 1 pound) , a ‘black Shitter’ (a wrecked looking Suzuki jeep) and our flight changed to La Paz instead of Arica. Good. Now we can relax over a beer and watch sunset over the little harbour.
a very special place indeed!

Everything seems to be really laid back and easy going here on this island. What a contrast to tacky and slightly violent looking Tahiti. The bars and restaurant all look interesting and nicely done and there seem to be a few choices around.

Hanga Roa is the only settlement on Easter Island. There are only 2800 inhabitants and maybe as many dogs and horses. The climate is very temperate with an average of 23 degrees all year round and it’s perfect right now with about 25 degrees and a nice sea breeze.

From what we hear, we are lucky so far: they just had four days of continuous rain and we can see some of the roads are still flooded with mud and rocks.
our little restaurant with Hermann Fritsch

For dinner we end up at a little restaurant called ‘Avareipuna’near the harbour. It’s run by a German called Hermann Fritsch. Hm, I have to ask him whether he knows Ernst Fritsch, my ex-landlord in Tutzing.

It turns out that he doesn’t know him but that his family is from Pilsen, Sudentenland (the same as ‘my’ Fritsch). He was born in Santiago de Chile but moved out here 8 years ago. He loves the peacefulness and the friendly people very much but is concerned that increasing tourism will soon spoil the whole atmosphere.

There are supposedly plans to built a casino on this island, but the locals have protested against it. We can only hope that they will win their battle.
A glass of wine, a cigar on our patio and looking at the beautiful star-studded sky. This could be paradise. But actually it’s not. At least not at night when all the dogs of Easter Island are having their barking competition.

PHIL: Day 69/23 April

Whilst LAN’s business seats are better than any since BA’s their cabin service is appalling. Despite (or perhaps because of) the long delay in departure the staff serve flat champagne at first and then have none later when we’d have liked some with breakfast. 
finally on the ground in Easter Island
They also seem unable to cope with serving breakfast at the equivalent of 9 or 10 a.m. rather than at 5 directly after we take off.
Easter Island’s Mataveri Airport is a combination of Polynesian laid-back and Latin American chaos.

There is no bank or car hire, but tourist touts hang around the exit, one of whom turns out to be a Frenchman whose pension Allie noticed featured in Lonely Planet. He is already collecting a French couple and only has one room left so we grab a lift. Lionel, married to a local with two ‘mestizo’ children, lives on a slope outside town where our room has a peaceful verandah overlooking the bay. The air is humid and quite warm (about 24degC) and the Chilean Health Ministry warns of a Dengue Fever risk so we anticipate a sticky night closeted in our airless room.
a first sight of the famous Moais
An initial stroll reveals a lively if slightly dilapidated single-storey town with a small Chilean Navy presence plus a good few tourists. At least the pubs and restaurants seem to be reasonably varied, unlike Papeete

Our first sight of a couple of the famous ‘moai’ down by the shoreline brings back memories of long-ago TV programmes about Thor Heyerdahl’s exploits here.
expensive but worth every penny!
By the time we have had a sunset beer at a café on the shore and a meal at a ramshackle German-owned place nearby we know that Easter Island is an expensive place to live.

Why the additional cost of transport to this remote island from mainland Chile should be any more costly than the Cook Islands or Tahiti is a mystery, but we overhear a shocked Englishman trying to reduce his stay from two weeks to a few days having realised his budget wouldn’t stretch far enough.

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