Visiting Easter Island (Land-Based)

Getting Settled Ashore

The entrance to Vai Kapua, the residencial where I stayed during my land-based visit.  

Thursday, June 10, 2004 (Day 1 Ashore)

In the last section, I told you about my transformation from crewperson to tourist, and as David headed off to the harbor to dinghy back to Marcie, I waited for a ride to my hotel.

In a few minutes, a lady drove up and took me to the Residencial Vai Kapua, located uphill from the sea off Te Pito o Te Henua street. She introduced herself as Luci, the manager, and I explained in my halting Spanish how I came to be here (most tourists arrive on scheduled jumbo jet flights). Once we reached the hotel, I checked in and paid for four nights, at 10,000 pesos a night (about $16 US), which included a very substantial breakfast each morning.

The hotel was called a residencial, or guest house, and it was organized around a central courtyard. Along opposing sides of the courtyard there were perhaps half a dozen private rooms each with a private bath. Luci and her family lived in an attached house at the head of the courtyard (with a public room where meals were served), and the last side of the courtyard had a fence with the entrance gate. Inside the courtyard there was a lush garden and a tiled walkway connecting the rooms. The facilities were decent although the guest rooms were somewhat flimsily constructed.

Looking into the courtyard of the residencial from outside the gate. My room is the farthest red door on the left (behind some shrubbery from this viewpoint).   Looking out the door of my room into the lush garden. There are a few more rooms on the far side of the courtyard.

A close-up of one of the yellow flowers massed behind the entrance sign, visible in the first picture, above.   A business card for Vai Kapua. Notice that the street address (Te Pito O Te Henua) is followed by S/N. This means sin número, Spanish for "without number"—none of the buildings in town have street numbers.

My next highest priority after securing a room was getting an airplane ticket home. After consulting a map in the tourist brochure, I walked to the Lan Chile office where a very helpful woman clerk arranged everything quickly and easily (she also spoke English). Since there is no competition, the price for a one-way ticket to Miami (via Santiago on the mainland) was a steep $1,300 US, but most tourists opt to fly rather than swim. There are two flights a week and the next flight is on Monday, but that would give me only three days on the island. Instead I decided to stay a week and leave next Thursday, which will give me enough time to explore.

After I bought my ticket, I walked around Hanga Roa, feeling very relaxed. My main missions had been accomplished quickly and easily, plus now as a land-based tourist, I didn't have to rush through chores or worry about a wet dinghy ride or a dragging anchor. I could finally be on Easter Island, and relaxed.

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