28.06.2016 - 02.07.2016
The first leg of the journey was a relatively uneventful 5 hours from Auckland to Tahiti where the kids were enthralled with the inflight entertainment while Matt and I watched a movie and relished travelling with kids who were older and not needing us to entertain them. Air Tahiti was pretty basic and the plane was old and grubby - but hey we were on our way!
In Tahiti unfortunately despite being only in transit we had to get all our luggage and clear customs which was a frustrating wait in a line for over an hour. We have Tahiti stamps in our passports but to be fair the open air verandah style airport that we spent the next 5 hours waiting in was nothing like the Tahiti you see in the travel brochures. Finally the check in to our flight opened and we dragged our by now tired bodies through another set of processing and scanning ready to board our LAN flight to Easter Island.
Again a fairly uneventful trip where we banned all screens and said to the kids they needed to get some sleep. They each managed a couple of hours apart from Toby who was by now showing that the little cough he'd woken with on the morning we'd left was set to develop into something a bit more substantial. All in all a whole lot less sleep their usual 10+ hours a night.
Breakfast was served ravioli with a light pink sauce (blergh!) Our seating configuration on this plane was less than ideal with a 3 + 1 + 1 line up meaning the only way to sort it was to have the kids together with me across the isle and Matt in the row below. I had to laugh with the Air Steward came round to deliver our meals and Toby politely ordered his then was asked if he was travelling with Holly who was asleep beside him - his reply "no" confused the poor chap who shrugged his shoulders and proceeded handing out meals.
Toby has had us in fits of giggles a couple of times this holidays. First looking at his passport as we were waiting in Tahiti. With a coy look on his face - "Mum it has "that" word written on it". That word of course was - sex. With that he decided the "M" underneath was for "mature" - hardly buddy! Upon our landing in Easter Island he was also convinced the plane had a downhill slope on it and that the pilot "must have landed on a hill!" Last but not least he said he was definitely taking his eye mask off the plane for wearing in the amazon - "so that no birds couldn't peck out his eyes" poor tormented child.
Poor old Holly got sick on landing - she was sitting in between Toby and Bella - as Holly grappled to find a vomit bag. Bella looked at her with a look of horror as if she had the plague and Toby turned away to face the opposite direction - all I could think of was the old saying "a friend in need is a friend indeed"
Our first taste of Easter Island was fairly uneventful. As we arrived in the afternoon we just explored the marina area close to our accommodation and got an early night. We were all a bit like zombies and happy to get to bed that night The next day we set out in our rental car I had booked for 2 days. It was my (Matt's) first experience in driving on the right hand side but I had guessed with only 5000 people living on the Island I couldn't get in too much trouble. With the help of Gunther from our accommodation at the Cabanas Ngahu we split the Island into two sections and started with a drive to Orongo. This 10min drive took substantially longer as I randomly drove on both the left and right hand side of the road. Did my best to ruin the gearbox with my manual gear changes. Constantly put my windscreen wipers instead of indicating - all this whilst trying to avoid the horses that roam the island. Did I mention you can't get car insurance when you rent on Easter island!
The wild horses we shared the road with - we were told to be careful as they have a habit of kicking the cars
We finally arrived at the ticket office and bought our National Park tickets for the next two days. Then proceeded to make our way up by foot to the rim of the volcanic crater at Raho Kau. It was a breath taking site and one we hadn't expected. From there it was another 1 hour walk across to view "Bird Man island" and the ceremonial sites in between. The history of the Bird Man was a fascinating insight into how destructive the focus on building the islands "Moai" statutes had been for the people of Rapa Nui. The other sites we got to were inland at Ahu A Kivi and Puna Pau.
Our exploring was cut a little short by the fact that by now Toby was looking pretty rough I (Rach) suspected he had a chest infection so we set off to find a pharmacy expecting to be able to purchase what we needed over the counter as we have in many of the places we have travelled. Not this time though - we were advised we needed to see a Dr at the Hospital. In a very round about way we found our way to the hospital. Signed in and were left in a waiting room after a long while we decided we really didn't have enough days on Easter Island to sit there for too many hours so we headed to the information centre where they rang and made us an appointment with the Island's only private Doctor. He was a nice enough guy but man was he on to a sweet thing. $250 later we had a diagnosis of a chest infection and some antibiotics. At least Toby would have a couple of days on them prior to our travel to Peru and the high altitudes we already knew would challenge our breathing. We finished our day with further exploring the main town of Hanga Roa
That evening I said to Matt could he get out the altitude meds and Malaria tabs so I could run through when we needed to start them. We couldn't find them anywhere. I was in a complete state of despair- we had packed them in our hand luggage so as we still had them if our bags went missing and here we were somewhere along the way in the process of checking through five lots of hand luggage and taking in and out lap tops, cameras, phones, ipods, kindles and meeting the liquid requirements - we'd somehow misplaced them. They would be difficult to obtain in time and had already cost us small fortune. On the off chance I rang our travel nurse in Nelson to see if she could get us a number for Auckland border control hoping they had them and they hadn't been destroyed. It was long shot but worth a go - other than that they could have been in Tahiti. She very kindly offered to ring for us and 20 mins later rang with the exciting news that they were in the lost property department. By a stroke of absolute good luck our friends Ben and Anna were travelling to meet us two days later and we were able to email the very efficiently run Lost Property department to authorise their pick up. We were very lucky in this case all the stars had aligned and they would be back with us a few days later. Valuable travel lessons learned and a few more grey hairs all round!
Day two was a earlier start as we had plenty to see. We drove the coastal road stopping off at all the significant Moai statues and burial sites.
The 2 favourites were Rano Raraku. This is were the quarry that the Moai were carved and transported from. There are many Moai that are still on the hill side. Left as they were carved without being moved. This collection was a highlight for the kids. The ability to walk around so many different sized Moai each with different features and expressions was amazing.
From here you can see down to Ahu Tongariki. This was the most impressive Moai restored to their upright position on the ceremonial stand. There are 15 here all in a line. The sheer size of them was breath-taking. Standing in front of them we all looked like ants. The rest of the day we spent cruising up to Anakena were there is a small beach qute a lovely beach but funny to find in amongst the rest of the Easter Island landscape. To cold to swim though! Driving home after a long day exploring via the inland road.
We were struck by the Polynesian influences on the island and found it unusual to be greeted "Kia Orana" by the South American inhabitants. We loved that it was still relatively unspoilt and that land could only be purchase by the people of Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
All in all the stop on Easter Island was well worth it. Standing alongside the the Moai was a long time dream of mine and to see the volcanic crater at Oronga was spectacular. For the kids it was a real adventure playground. Lots of walking and discovery along the way. The only thing I didn't get that I had hoped for was the feeling of isolation. Being 3700km from the South American coast and 4200km from Tahiti I had hoped to feel a sense of being lost in time. Maybe I need to look at other islands that are more remote. Pitcairn maybe?
A beautiful sailing ship apparently owned by the Navy which was in the harbour at the time
So onwards with our adventure - next stop Cusco, Peru where Matt and Ben will take on the Inca Trail Marathon and the rest of us will just concentrate on breathing. I apologise for the delay in posting this blog - our internet connections have been hopeless. Makes you appreciate what you take for granted.