It’s mid-afternoon of our third day on Rapa Nui Island, popularly known as Easter Island. The Chilean government has recently changed the island’s name back to Rapa Nui.
Our first two days here were spent touring the island with guide Ricardo, who is a native islander but was educated in mainland Chile. He was brimming with information about every Moai (there are over 900 carved stone statues here, many are over twenty to thirty feet tall, every archaeological site, every petroglyph, and every ancient village. It turned out to be two days chocked full of more than I ever wanted to know about the origins of the Rapa Nui people.
Ricardo is understandably very proud of his heritage, but even he said, “If it weren’t for the Moai statues, nobody would come to this island.” That’s because it only has one small sandy beach. The rest is rocky coastline and sheer cliffs plunging down to the sea. The restaurants serve mediocre fare at high prices. The landscape, although beautiful, is mostly treeless hills and farmland. This place lacks the tropical beauty of Tahiti or Hawaii or any other South Pacific Island.
Our third day was guideless. We walked the two miles from our hotel into town and combed the downtown area looking for a good cup of coffee and WIFI. We didn’t find either. The coffee shop we stopped at served us two Americanos and a tart for $15, and the coffee sucked.
The morning was hot and humid, which made walking difficult. Once we realized there were no good eateries in town, we walked down to the wharf area. It was busy with boats taking divers and snorkelers to the dive sites. There were also fishing boats, and we watched a man butchering a swordfish, hung by its tail, and over six feet long. The butcher, a real island hunk, was washing the guts into the sea, where a giant turtle was feasting of it. It was the most interesting thing I saw all day. Of course, the other interesting sites were the local boys, bare chested with lovely muscles, working the wharf.
I’m happy to have made the five-hour flight out and back to this island, and I found the place interesting, but this is one place I won’t revisit.