Backpacking Eight Months On the Road
Bus Through South America
By David Rice
Page Thirty Five
Backpacking by Bus In South America
Eight Months On the Road
Text and Photos By David Rice
After arriving in Santiago I took the metro to the house where I had first stayed on my way south. The lady had a full house but had another place where she offered me a private room on a tree-lined street for the same price.
I had earlier made a reservation via the internet for a trip by the airline Lan Chile to Easter Island. Once I arrived in Santiago I confirmed my reservation and they booked me on the following day for a $700 round trip flight, a figure about twice what a Chilean pays.
The airline flies three times a week to Easter Island, 2,500-miles off the Chilean coast. Easter Island, locally called Rapa Nui by its 2500 residents, 70% of whom are native Pascuenses and speak a Polynesian language, officially speaks Spanish.
Our jet touched down at Hanga Roa airfield and from there I walked the entire island the first day, about 12 hours of hiking. The path took me through all the heads, including some that had been knocked down by a huge wave and had been replanted with the help of donations from the Japanese. Volcanic rock was everywhere and although the Island had been denuded of trees long ago by the ancient carvers of the stones, there now are Eucalyptus trees growing.
Most heads faced inland with just a few facing the sea, one of the many enigmas that still defy researcher's understanding as they try to make some sense of the Island archaeologically. The stones tell them that the inhabitants started carving the colossal figures in the 7th century AD and continued up until the 15th Century. The rest is a mystery
I stayed in a private home out on the tip of the island at the edge of the ocean where I paid $35 a night. I stayed four nights, plenty of time to see the whole island, including the volcano, the standing heads, and the quarry where the ancient people carved the heads.
I was hitchhiking one day when a local gal picked me up. I asked about all the horses that I had seen roaming free.
"Oh yes," she said, in a matter of fact way, "We eat them"
Easter Island, David Rice Photo