Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, is a rock in the ocean six hours flying time west of Santiago. It’s effectively the place on earth where people live that is furthest away from where other people live. I’m about as far away from the NHS as I can get. At least the Aussies have a reciprocal health arrangement.
It’s where those funny rock men live. A bucket list destination and one that I’m glad I’ve hit.
The stone men are quite special. Some of them have fallen over. Others stand alone. Another sees fifteen line up in front of the sea like a Pacific Island rugby union team about to perform a tribal dance to intimidate the opposition.
The island itself is a bit like any rocky coastline. Craggy, inspiring and in this case met by the biggest crashing waves I’ve ever seen. Ignoring the high waves it’s actually quite British in geological feel. The airport runway crosses almost the whole width of the island. The capital is a small village with very little going on. And pretty much the only village. A single petrol station. And a handful of roads with the stone dudes appearing here there and everywhere.
Yes, I’ve seen the pictures before getting here. But nothing beats the real thing. Seeing them evokes real thoughts of who they were, what they represented, why they were chosen to stand through the centuries.
Perhaps a chief and his minions. Maybe a religious leader? Or gods protecting the populous from the sea?
Regardless. I’ve spent a small fortune getting us here. Food retails at Icelandic prices and the car hire system has no insurance. Writing off the 4×4 Suzuki jeep type thing we’re hurling around in means paying for a new one!
Riders on horses gallop down the roads cowboy style in the face of oncoming traffic. Livestock, usually cows, wander aimlessly across roads regardless of cars. And the wind is constant. Sun changes to rain in an instant.
As well as the stone men, my highlight has been the volcanic crater at the south of the island. Blown away by an eruption centuries (millennia?) ago to enable flora to grow and small pools to form in a location reminiscent of the lair of a James Bond villain.
Chris has loved driving me around. Or rather he’s loved driving. I’m the side show! It’s a place like no other I’ve seen. In some ways it could be a Scottish Island. But in other ways its remoteness makes it unique, extraordinary and maybe a little fun.
It’s a privilege to be here. Even if the wifi is rubbish! It doesn’t feel like Chile. It feels like nowhere on earth!