|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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