|Outside the small terminal building at Mataveri Airport.||A sculpture in the airport parking lot.|
|Inside the terminal building.||The moai in the airport courtyard where passengers posed for pictures.|
Thursday, June 17, 2004
I got up early since I'm always antsy to get going and hate to be late for anything. After completing my morning routine, I was ready to leave at 7:30 a.m. The hotel was still dark and quiet as I hefted my bags and walked out, leaving the key in the room and the door unlocked.
Out on the street I flagged down a cab ($2 US) and arrived at the airport around dawn. I was literally the first passenger to check in—they hadn't even turned on all the lights or opened all the doors yet. There were no problems and I checked my bags through to Miami.
As I was sitting in the terminal, a man in a green jacket and cap hailed me—"¡Juanito!" It was the agriculture official who had come out to the boat when we had first arrived at the island. How nice to be remembered. I explained to him in my halting Spanish that after three months on the boat I was heading back to the States. The boat was still here at Vinapu and after fixing problems and waiting for good weather they would head to Ecuador. It was really neat to be recognized and greeted by someone—I actually know somebody on Easter Island! In retrospect, it was a smart move to dub me Juanito, because it's definitely something the Spanish-speaking locals remember.
Having arrived so early, I had a long wait, but finally the Lan Chile flight landed and slowly taxied back to the terminal. Ground crew rolled up boarding ramps and passengers from Tahiti deplaned. Maybe a dozen or so stopped at the small moai in the airport courtyard and posed while friends snapped their picture with an exotic icon of Easter Island. Departing passengers finally boarded and I settled in for the five-hour flight to the mainland. My seatmate was a college student from Santiago who had been visiting Easter Island to study their agricultural practices, part of the research required to complete his master's thesis.
|The Lan Chile jet taxiing into position on the ramp.||Climbing aboard, next stop Santiago, Chile.|
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