South American Adventure

Soy alergico al harina el trigo

  • March 2, 2008

Today is Monday, and as we sit at the airport waiting for our flight to take us to Santiago Chile, the delay of 4 hours and 15 minutes has given us a chance to look back at the journey so far. Easter Island, or as it is known to the Chileans, Rapa Nui, was a great first stop to ease us into the South American culture. If one was to overlook the high prices, the lack of English speakers and the excess amount of gluten in the local diet the last four days have been a breeze. Overall, we have become better at speaking in Spanish and attempting to negotiate taxi fairs to and from Volcanoes…..

Our first day on the island after having been greeted by the man flaunting a chicken for a hat, we were greeted by our two very accommodating hosts, Exquiel & Bicky whom own the Mana Nui Inn. We were swiftly packed into the back of our airport transfer and whisked through the town of Hanga Roa in a brief guided tour of the township. We arrived at our accommodation for the next four nights and were given a beautiful freshly blended juice to wash away the hours of travel that we had just endured. Shortly after the juice had touched our stomachs we proceeded to crash onto the more than comfortable bed where we attempted to fully understand the islands first mystery, Jet-Lag.

After much deliberation on the mystery of jet-lag, we managed to drag ourselves out of the room in an attempt to explore our surroundings and seek much needed supplies. Our journey led us into the heart of time where we were greeted by a siesta. How the Chilean people understand how important the hours between 1pm and 5pm’ish, and I believe we have much to learn. Imagine on a conference call, “Sorry, I have just finished lunch and I need a nap, I will call you back in 4 hours”. Food for me was in short supply as the term Sin gluten “Gluten Free” is a term that is not widely recognised in this country. However the key word that I have learnt to look for on food items is simple enough “trego”. Special diet aside, shopping was simple, a pack of chips, a can of tuna and a tomato, was to be the food of choice in desperate times. My first real meal, was a bowl of papas fritas, or commonly referred to in the English speaking world as hot chips. This was purchased at a shack, although “rustic”, oozed charm. As I watched the young lad, whom in most countries should be working as a builder of Lego in a child care place two potatoes into a press and proceed to swing from a large arm like a monkey. To my amazement, I watched as chip like products spewed from this press. I can only imagine Bird’s Eye or McKane recruiting similar resources on their production line to ensure that their products were of the high standard that I was about to devour. The chips were probably the most delicious that I have ever tasted, reinforcing that fresh is most definitely the best. From there we managed to solve the mystery of jet-lag with a swim in the pacific ocean. The water was clear and the locals were friendly. However, I believe that there was a certain fascination of the moon like luminosity of my skin as I climbed down to the water’s edge. Then it was time to experience our first Easter Island sunset as the sun gently lowered itself behind the stone statues of Tahai giving us the perfect photo opportunity that we began to experience frequently on the island.

Day 2 on the island led us to the museum as we began to feel guilty that we had no idea of the islands heritage and cultural background. Many aspect of the island remain a mystery, and the museum proudly boasts that visitors must use their imagination to fill in the gaps that frequent the islands extraordinary time line. With imaginations in tow we sort to follow the history of the island and believe that we succeeded in understanding how fascinating and amazing Rapa Nui truly is. From here it was time to seek out a mode of transportation as there is no public transport apart from feet and overpriced tourist taxi’s. On the search for a form of transport, I began to randomly smack my head to Jayde’s amusement. However to my dismay, a bee had decided to lodge itself in between my ear and my sunglasses. After a brief head smacking and sending my sunglasses flying, I managed to get stung by a bee above my ear, however the stinger was removed fairly quickly. A severe headache later, a decision was made that a motorbike was most defiantly the transport of choice with fuel prices close to USD$2 a litre and the many dirt roads that we would be traveling on. Our first trip was to be out to Ahu Tongariki where we would be experience our first sunrise the following day.

We woke at 6am sharp on Day 3, the sky was littered with a spectacular display of lights that one may refer to as stars. In a place where there is no pollution, this was to be an amazing morning light show. We rode in pitch blackness with a feeble light on the front of our trail bike to arrive at the Ahu Tongariki. We set up the camera and began taking photos as the rays of sun gradually peered over the horizon.

After over 100 photos (fear not, I will not subject anybody to that pain), it was time to move onto more photo opportunities. We traveled the island on the bike, seeing the sites and often feeling as though we were on an episode of “Long Way Down”. Many of the roads on the island are not maintained and most of the time seem more like a goat trail than a track. The many photo opportunities included Ranu Raku (the quarry where many of the Moai’s were carved before been transported around the island), Tapu Caves (an intricate lava tube cave), Ahu Tikia (the only stone statues that looks out towards the ocean), and Akeana Beach.

Day 4 left us with no transportation and a hike up the Rano Kau volcano, where we were able to see petroglyph carvings and a stone village (Oronga), The 10km hike left us tired but gave us the inspiration to find a nice restaurant to write some post cards and emails.

After four fantastic days, it was time to move onto our next destination. Rapu Nui gave us a fantastic starting point into South America. The people, the accommodation and the island is a destination of choice and I would love to come back one day. Aside from the completely random bee sting and the over inflated prices (which is understandable as most of the island products are flown in via LAN Chile). Next stop Santiago…….