Visiting Easter Island (Boat-Based)

Hanga Roa Ashore (continued)

The grave of William Mulloy, an archaeologist who spent years on the island performing research and restoring ahu and moai.   Ahu Vai Uri in the shoreside park on the north side of Hanga Roa.

Ahu Vai Uri and Ahu Tahai. You can just make out Nine of Cups to the right of the moai.  

I hadn't been to Hanga Roa since our last provisioning trip nearly two weeks ago, just after we arrived at Easter Island. At that time, we had many chores and I didn't do much sightseeing or picture-taking. This morning, I immediately struck out for the moai we could see from the boat. I took a bunch of pictures even though the light wasn't that great (a gray overcast). A special photo subject was the Hanga Roa anchorage. There were only two vessels at anchor, Nine of Cups and a Chilean submarine. I took a few good pictures of the two of us anchored right next to each other. Since the town rises from the sea, many locations in town have a good view of the anchorage. People in town must have noticed the submarine, which would have been an unusual visitor practically anywhere. And when they saw the sub, they couldn't help but notice the sailboat right next to the sub. As we walked around town, townspeople would as of us, "Oh, were we from the sailboat next to the submarine?" It was kind of fun to be famous by association. Probably not many people notice or care about yachts ordinarily, because there are so few of them and they do little for the local economy.

After taking pictures of the moai and the cemetery, I walked back into town and found the Entel office, which is the Chilean national phone company. I was going to try calling Mom, but after I waited in line for a while I eventually gave up and left. The place was very busy, and people were jabbering in rapid-fire Spanish, of which I understood practically nothing. This type of situation always makes me uncomfortable and I feel so inadequate and frustrated. I had a relatively ordinary business transaction to accomplish, but I wound up giving up and walking away (I also was pressed for time).

I walked over to the artisan's market and bumped into Marcie. She was looking at tee-shirts, but led me over to an artisan's booth to show me a wood carving she was thinking of buying. It was a beautiful carved bowl, functional of course, but also a highly decorated and symbolic piece of sculpture. She wound up buying it after some tense negotiations over price. Meanwhile, I bought a so-so tee-shirt (for some reason, nobody in town had very good shirts) and a carved wooden egg that was decorated with cultural symbols. Not being a haggler, I paid the price as marked. I talked for a while with the woman at the booth and she knew about the sailboat and the submarine, so I was locally famous for 15 minudos. I also met her husband the woodcarver who was sitting outside working.

Because of various delays and an ambitious schedule, Marcie and I were now running late and had to hurry through the provisioning. We walked over to the supermercado and walked two shopping carts up and down the aisles, piling stuff in: six loaves of bread, six quarts of milk, probably 25 packages of cookies and crackers (you tend to get the munchies at odd hours running the boat 24-hours a day at sea), bags of potatoes and onions, a dozen cans of tomato sauce, bags of flour, five packs of spaghetti, sacks of potato chips, cans, boxes, and bags of this and that, enough to last us another two months or so, until we reach the mainland. Unfortunately, they were out of rice, which was a surprise—rice is an important staple; we probably have enough on the boat to last us. They were also out of any kind of decent meat or chicken, though they did have some unappetizing bony chunks of local beef. We were specifically looking for a few kilos of ground beef, but we struck out. Without fresh meat, we may have to dig into the boat's stock of canned meat—acceptable but not our preference.

We filled up two carts and worked our way through the checkout lines. With our supplies packed in cardboard boxes, we hired a cab and loaded the stuff in the trunk. We told the driver we needed to stop at the fresh market right across the street to pick up more fresh fruit and vegetables. Marcie got a whole bunch of stuff, including a free watermelon and a big bunch of free cilantro. Of course, it wasn't really free—we were probably overpaying for the other items, so they could afford to throw in a few freebies.

We took the cab down to the dock but just as we arrived, we saw the commando's dinghy heading out of the harbor and back to the sub—darn, we missed the boat. Actually, the commandos had been ferrying people back and forth to the sub all day, and not just crewmembers on shore leave but also whole families and even groups of schoolchildren; the sub obviously was open for public visiting.

We didn't have long to wait before the dinghy came back and unloaded a group of visitors; we loaded our boxes of provisions and hitched a ride back to Nine of Cups. This time, there was a lieutenant from the sub returning in mufti after some shore leave. He spoke excellent English, and it turned out he was into sailing, too. However, he was into performance sailing and racing and said he didn't really have the patience to do what we were doing—sailing for weeks at a time to reach a remote destination thousands of miles away. We had a good chat and when we reached Nine of Cups, both the commandos and the lieutenant helped transfer our boxes and bags of provisions up to the boat. We stowed things as best as possible below as we related our adventures to David.

Two views of Ahu Kote Riku in the shoreside park. This moai has eyes made from coral and obsidian (for the white and black areas). From what I read, when the moai were carved at the quarry, their eyes weren't finished at the quarry. After a moai was transported to an ahu and erected, the eyes were finished and the coral and obsidian installed. This activated the mana, or power, of the shrine. We called this moai "obsidian eye guy".

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