Arriving On Easter Island (Isla de Pascua)
“The farther you go, however, the harder it is to return. The world has many edges, and it’s easy to fall off.” Anderson Cooper
The idea of a bucket list is weird. The thought that there is a set number of activities that you have to do in the world to die happy is depressing. Life changes and things happen and your goals and desires change with that. I love lists. I make them all the time. They are more travel goals than bucket lists. The thing about these lists is to never finish them and always add new ideas.
The plane landed at another place on my list that I can check off – Easter Island. It is one of the most remote places in the world and has all those statues. We have flown six hours from Santiago to get here. You can only fly from Santiago or Tahiti on Latam Airlines to get there.
When you land on Easter Island you’ll notice that the runway appears to be really huge, because it’s really huge. Back when NASA was working out the flight plans for the space shuttle in the 1980s, Easter Island aligned perfectly with one of the designated landing spots and the US government made a deal with the government of Chile to upgrade and extend the runway on Easter Island in exchange for possibly letting the space shuttle land there in case of an emergency. Although never needed by NASA the runway expansion helped Easter Island greatly, as this meant larger planes could ferry tourists and supplies to the island.
In 2007 the Explora all-inclusive hotel opened on Easter Island. The hotel has expansive windows and outdoor areas to see the beautiful views on the south side of the island. The air smells so good. It feels like pollution has not yet come to this remote part of the world.
We arrive at lunchtime and a woman starts talking to us. I travel alone often and I’m always in awe of people who can do that. We are a little surprised but chat a bit with her about the island.
After lunch, we are taken on our first tour of the Moai with two couples from Missouri. Meeting Americans abroad is tricky in Trump’s America. We are sure they are Trump supporters and to them we must be California liberals. We know they own guns. In our minds this means that they must like racist, narcissistic bullies. Someone asks me what I do? I say that I write a travel blog. Another one snaps, ”I don’t want to be in your blog.” I want to answer that I’m way too self-centered to write about you. This isn’t starting well.
We make a decision to not talk about politics and not be those judgmental California liberals that we were about to become. Those people turn out to be nice and interesting. I don’t know who they voted for but they aren’t thrilled with what is happening in the country now either. They became the people who experienced Easter Island at the same time in the same way that we did. They will always be part of our amazing memories here. The woman who snapped at me wasn’t feeling well and we were tired from jet lag and the long plane rides. The lesson for me is don’t judge people on your worst traveling day.
It is the tours to the Moai and surrounding areas and especially the staff and tour guides that really make this place so wonderful.
They are young, passionate, fun, very knowledgeable with great communication skills and a lot of information.
We spend most of our time with Bruno and Ika. Bruno is Chilean and had worked at Explora in the Atacama desert.
Ika is Rapa Nui and from the island. It is interesting to get their different take on the Moia stories.
Paulina the hostess is always around making sure that everything is going smoothly with kindness and humor.
Francisco the manager is always visible and asking about your day. I have amazing massages with Moea at the end of hiking days. The girl who runs the gift shop makes a pharmacy run for me.
The friendliness and kindness of Explora is catching. We are having lunch a few days later. A couple sits down next to us. ” So did you just get here? Where are you from?” I ask.
I will always have a bucket list of places but it is the people you meet who live and work in these places and the encounters with other travelers that shapes your travel experience.