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A feast for eyes and palate Easter Island

| 08 May 2012

Easter Island is famous for its impressive moai statues. Cox & Kings client Richard Clark recently visited this small island off the coast of Chile with his wife Frances. Here he tells us why there is more to Easter Island than first meets the eye.

Moai

A once-in-a-lifetime holiday has a lot to live up to and so after overnight stops in Buenos Aires and Santiago we arrived at Easter Island hoping for the best. The dream started when we were given a beautiful garland of flowers as we left the small airport. We quickly unpacked at our Polynesian-style hotel and then walked to the seafront of the main village, Hanga Roa. Easter Island makes for a trip back in time where you can see the historical statues (moai) and beautiful scenery, as well as sampling local foods that complements these traditions. The island is dominated by moai carved in rock from a local quarry. Many theories exist over how 500 such moai, all more than 80 tonnes each, could be ‘walked’ and erected by local tribes around the island. This formidable achievement has prompted numerous whys and hows that go mostly unanswered, only for new questions to be asked.

At the seafront, various moai are visible, as well as the beautiful blue sea and high surf. The heat was always pleasant and fresh. The island was different to our recent city trips – all wooden houses, wide pavements, sleeping dogs, market shops, old cars and no public transport – with a lovely feeling of safety, relaxation and freedom.

The mystical history of the moai is a massive attraction to the island and it was a privilege to see them in all their glory. What’s more, there are many other wonders on the island, including the sites of Vinapua and Orango village, the amazing Birdman legend, the magnetic rock at Te Pito Kura, the beautiful white sandy beaches at Anakena and the blue water-filled extinct Rano Kau volcano crater. The list of attractions is endless. However, these are all appetisers for the famous line of moai at Tongariki.

As for palate, the fruit and fish are supreme. We enjoyed the local fish, picis, three times. Initially, one can find raw fish with coconut and pimentos a challenge, but it is certainly worth persevering. The second time was at a seafront restaurant where the curiously named ‘fish and ships’ was on the menu. The highlight, though, was later when our tour guide and her partner took us for a fish barbecue. This involved visiting Papa Vaka, a petroglyph (ancient rock carving) site, where five picis were caught on the edge of a cliff with a traditional line. The picis were then cooked in front of us and we ate the fish in front of a beautiful sunset on a sandy beach. This is a memory that will stay with us forever, as will our whole Easter Island experience.

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