Visiting Easter Island (Boat-Based)

Visiting Hanga Roa (continued)

 
Marcie walking down the street named Te Pito o Te Henua (which means "The Navel Of The World") with the ocean visible in the distance. This is when we were walking back from the hospital.   A tourist map of Hanga Roa, scanned from the free tourist brochure available from Sernatur, the Chilean National Tourism Service. Click on the map for a bigger version (99 kb); use your browser's "back" command to return here.

Friday, May 14 (Day 2 at Easter Island)

Last night was very rolly and uncomfortable due to swell sweeping through the exposed anchorage; it felt like we were sailing at sea even though we were anchored. It was also a little chilly and I slept poorly.

This morning, it's my turn to go ashore with Marcie. Since we know the stores close early for midday break, we're in a bit of a rush. I took a shower and washed my hair, and when I got dressed I used my last pair of clean underwear—I desperately need to do some laundry ASAP.

David ferried us ashore and the dinghy ride went well; there was some swell and wave action but David was careful and followed a safe path around areas of breaking waves. Surge from the swell followed us into the narrow and shallow entrance channel, then we pulled into the small protected cove that passes for a harbor. There were several colorful fishing skiffs securely tied fore and aft to resist the surge. Along one side of the cove there was a low wall with steps for a dry landing; the opposite side of the cove had a tiny beach for wet landings.

After dropping us off, David drove the dinghy back to Nine of Cups where he is building a wooden cradle to hold the dinghy on the foredeck. Every night we haul the dinghy aboard but it's a bit of a production: first, unload the gear and remove and haul up the motor, then haul up the dinghy on a halliard and laboriously flip it over to stow it upside down on the foredeck (the dinghy has a hard fiberglass keel that would scratch the deck if right side up). The wooden cradle is designed to hold the dinghy right side up with the motor still attached, holding the dinghy off the deck so the deck won't get scratched. We'll then be able to stow and deploy the dinghy much more quickly.

Marcie and I walked towards the center of Hanga Roa with three missions in mind: changing some money at the bank, paying the entry fees that were assessed at check-in, and stocking up on provisions. Of course we'll also be poking around in souvenir shops and snapping pictures. As we walked through town, I though the scenery looked much more like what a South Pacific island should look like compared to the Galápagos—lush rolling hills, lots of banana trees and big coconut palms, exotic brightly-colored flowers. There were many Chileans but also some fierce-looking Rapa Nui men with strange hair styles and clothes—not trendy or outré but dressed according to different tastes and local customs. I also saw some big overfed Polynesians. Walking around, I couldn't help sensing the remoteness and isolation of the island, a tiny dot of land so far from any other inhabited land, truly a world unto itself.

We found the bank easily enough and I had no problem changing $300 US into Chilean pesos. They have a 10,000 peso note that is similar in usage to a $20 bill (more like a $16 bill), but their paper money is much more colorful and elaborately designed than American greenbacks. While I was waiting in line, it was amusing to see the ever-present mongrel dogs wander into the bank (and even into the supermarket, later); businesses are typically open to the air where they face the street.

The entry fees were ostensibly "health fees" that would have to be paid at the hospital, so we headed off across town to the hospital which was some distance away. As we walked through the center of town, we walked down one of the main streets of the small but busy town. The street was pleasantly tree-lined and had a row of very individualistic small shops along one side: souvenir shops, the supermarket, restaurants, a hardware store, pharmacy, bakery, etc. At the end of the street, we turned right to walk uphill on another main street, and passed through a small street corner park with benches, ornamental flowers, and palms. Along the way we saw relatively few tourists (it is the off-season) but occasionally passed natives, both Polynesian and Chilean. At the hospital, Marcie got a big but polite bureaucratic run-around but finally was able to pay and get a stamped receipt which we will need to show the Armada to get our clearance certificate. The hospital seemed rather ramshackle and the building needed some work, but it obviously served its purpose.

Afterwards, Marcie went to the artisan's market while I wandered around and took pictures. On our way back to the supermarket, Marcie visited other shops to check prices. I was surprised that the town was so busy and active with lots of traffic for such a small island. At one point, a horse and rider went galloping along the street; it seems some people don't have a car but a horse works just as well.

We indulged in a major provisioning binge at the supermarket: fresh food (potatoes, onions, cabbage, garlic), snacks (potato chips, cookies, crackers), pasta, rice, flour, canned goods, UHT milk, bread, etc. At the checkout it came to more than $100 (but in pesos, some huge number) and we just barely managed to carry it all the load was so heavy. David met us at the dinghy dock and we motored back to Nine of Cups; we got back O.K. but it was a little tricky and we had to buck some swell. Back on the boat everything was passed aboard and stowed below.


 
The town's Catholic church, at the upper end of Te Pito o Te Henua.   This building is next to the church; I think it is a community hall.

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