After having such an insightful tour with Christophe the day before, and having a great desire to see as many archæological sites as possible while on the island, I’d emailed him to arrange two half day tours. One was to several sites to the west and centre of the island, while the other (which is going to be the subject of Day 5’s instalment) was for a hike around the Poike peninsula (the peninsula in the photo from the plane in the post entitled “Special Edition: Arriving on Easter Island (Day 1)”).
Anyway, before the half day tour (which started at 3 in the afternoon), I went for a walk with some of the people from the hostel. One of them only came as far as the first site of the day, called Tahai. There were several platforms here, one of which has a moai with modern eyes installed (after archæologists discovered fragments of an original eye on Anakena beach).
The moai with eyes at Tahai
An interesting aside is that I was talking to Christophe (my guide from yesterday) about this, and he said he spoke to the archæologist who discovered it – a native Easter Islander. Apparently the archæologist didn’t realise what it was, but showed it to his grandfather, who promptly told him that it was a moai eye (as he remembered the time when lots of them had eyes).
At this point, one of the hostel people left, and it was just me and the other (HC) who continued onwards. A little farther down the coast was Hanga Kio’e. Here stood a solitary moai, which, according to the book, was one of the final platforms and moai to be built.
We continued onwards, hoping to reach Te Peu, but without any success (as we were fighting a losing battle against time – we had to be back at the hostel by 3 to have the tour). I’d invited HC to join me on it, as she wanted to see one of the sights that it involved anyway.
Turning back (probably only 10 minutes from Te Peu with the benefit of hindsight), we stopped off at a cave called Ana Te Pora, which was interesting, and had a stone bed in it.
The next cave along (back in the direction of Hanga Roa), was called Ana Kakenga, which had two large openings facing the ocean which was beautiful. However, the entrance to the cave is very small and narrow (with a low ceiling), and also pitch black (and therefore not suitable for those with claustrophobia).
Looking out of Ana Kakenga at the Pacific Ocean, and some rocky islets
Upon returning to Hanga Roa, and having a quick lunch, HC and I got ready for our afternoon tour. Sure enough, at 3 o’clock, Christophe appeared, and we went off to the first site.
The site in question is called Puna Pau, and is the quarry where the topknots (Pukao) were made. These topknots are the red “hat like” objects on top of some of the moai. You can see one clear example in the first image in this post. There are three different designs of these, which either represent a feathered headdress, tied up long hair, or a bandana like thing. Those you see upon the moai are just balancing, they are not cemented or attached in any way. Overall, only about 100 were ever made (including those abandoned in the quarry).
Abandoned Pukao at Puna Pau
The next place to visit was Akivi, which is an inland platform consisting of seven moai. This platform is unique in being the only one where the moai face out to sea, rather than inland.
The final stop for the day was a cave called Ana Te Pahu, which, like all the caves I visited, are former lava tubes. Inside was an interesting petroglyph to Make Make, who was the god related to the birdman cult. Also in the cave were several ferns which were endemic to Easter Island (and only to Easter Island), which was pretty interesting.
Make Make petroglyph
With the tour over, we were dropped back in the hostel, where we relaxed. HC and I went for a walk along the shore in Hanga Roa just as the sun was setting. This gave the perfect opportunity for a sun-setting-behind-a-moai photo, which was too good to miss!
After wandering around for a while, we decided to get some supper at a French restaurant, whose proprietor was described to us in a way that made him sound like Basil Fawlty (a character from Fawlty Towers – which, for the benefit of my foreign friends, is probably the most famous British comedy programme on television that has ever been made) – although we never met said proprietor, so sadly couldn’t confirm personally alas!
Anyway, we ordered a massive paella to share, which was full of delicious seafood (lobster, scallops, mussels, clams, prawns, various types of fish, etc.). It was very big, and very filling, and very nice! Feeling delightfully full, we called it a night, and headed back to the hostel to sleep.
It was ridiculously big, but so nice!