Me and a maoiHello from Easter Island! I’m on the world’s most isolated inhabited island (or so I’m told), which is famous for maoi (pronounced mwhy) statues built by the indigenous people before the Spanish arrived. Kurt’s description of it is, “it was like the cold war arms race except with statues and trees.” I like it.

When I arrived I was greeted by a sign at the airport that read “Welcome to Eastern Island”, and a native band playing in the airport carpark. The band chanted and played bongos in a tribal style, and danced around in nothing but home-made underwear and fur boots. Just as I was thinking, “wow, what a nice way to welcome visitors to the island”, when one of the band member’s handed me a flyer for their show in a couple of days… with a $16 cover charge! Everything was expensive there. $15 for the cheapest meal and $25 to wash my clothes. I washed my clothes in the shower and lived off packet soup, pasta, and bread all week!

On the first day I hired a bike and cycled around on the unpaved, muddy “roads” trying to find the statues. I found the first statues in a few minutes, but afterwards the map I had was useless – there would be one road on the map but 5 in reality, so I got hopelessly lost. After about 5 hours I finally made it to the statues. I hadn’t seen anyone for hours on the way there, and when I arrived there were 3 minivans of tourists. And they’re all the tourists who can afford to hire minivans and go on tours: American golf players with their yellow polo shirts and their wives with their annoying accents. And Japanese tourists documenting every moment. It was disappointing since I had gone to such effort to get there! It was nice though, and the statues were impressive.

Maoi statues, Easter IslandAs I left the site, the sun was starting to set, so I went back to the first statues to watch the sunset over the ocean (and over the statues). I sat on a hill and relaxed at last (my legs were falling off from all the cycling!) to watch the sunset. It was so beautiful and peaceful. But then, just before sunset, the same 3 minivans of tourists showed up and suddenly the place was swarming with tourists! Hmm, what a pretty sunset. I was starting to think everything was going to be a disappointment. But then, I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

I left the site after dark and made my way back to the hostel. The bike had been squeaking for the last few hours and I knew it hadn’t been doing this in the morning. I didn’t want to give the kid back a broken bike, so I went into a car garage on the way home to see if they could fix it. I was sure it only needed some oil to grease it up, but I wasn’t sure if they were going to charge Easter Island prices and charge $20 for a drop of oil. I thought I might as well ask, and walked in with the bike and asked them what they could do. It was then that I knew good things can happen on Easter Island, as forty-five minutes later I walked out, completely drunk, with a fixed bike and carrier bag full of mangoes!

They fixed the bike in 30 seconds and sat me down with a carton of Chilean wine and kept topping it up every 2 minutes telling me I needed more! The 3 guys in there had finished work for the day and were getting ready to the start the night. Two guys from Santiago and one native taxi driver. One guy gave me a mango from his tree, and after I said I loved it, he came back with a carrier bag full!

Later that night I met up with some German girls and a Scottish guy and saw a Rapa Nui band play at this cheesy club (surprisingly, Easter Island has quite a few). The band were great – it was good to see a bit of culture – and for free too. On the way home, I looked up at the sky and could see the Milky Way. I wanted to lie down and look at the stars all night.

Palm trees, maoi and myselfToday I hitch-hiked to the other side of the island and went to the island’s only sandy beach. It was surprisingly easy – not a single car passed without picking me up! I was glad I didn’t pay $60 for a tour of the beach and the surrounding maoi. The beach was perfect: white sand, palm trees, and hardly anyone on it. Plus there were maoi statues right on the beach too! I sat on the beach, stared out to sea, and wondered how on earth anyone found this tiny lone island all those years ago.