Tag Archives: Chile

The Many Moai of Rano Raraku

Moai of Rano Raraku

I’m surprised I haven’t posted this image of Easter Island before, considering my wife and I spent nearly an entire day walking around Rano Raraku (a.k.a. “The Quarry”)  and have many pictures.

The Quarry is where all of the moai on Easter Island were carved from. Many of them were carved from the rock of the hillside, then “walked” down the hill where they would slowly make their way to their final destination. No one really knows how long it took to completely carve a moai, but if they broke during transit, the moai were left in that location and work was began on another carving another back in The Quarry. Obviously it was a very labor intensive project.

For the sake of experiencing The Quarry as the sun rose, my wife and I were the first ones to the location. The lighting was brutal for photographs, but the stillness and silence of it all made the early-morning trip worth it. As we were leaving, we began chatting with the ticket attendant and she told us her shift ends at three o’clock. If we come back before then she’d let us back in without having to pay — a total sweetheart move.

What was nice about going back the second time was the majesty of it all was still pretty cool, but it was easier to focus on taking some pictures. And, by the time its all said and done, “tourism” on Easter Island is far different than “tourism” anywhere else on earth. It is such a remote and difficult location that even their “busy” season is nothing like many other places on earth. Going early to get there before the crowd isn’t really necessary. It was still fantastic to experience the stillness of The Quarry without tour groups and such, but The Quarry was large enough we could easily avoid them once they were there.

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Ahu Togariki

Ahu Togariki

While in London to cover the Games of the XXX Olympiad, on an off-day I traveled to see Stonehenge with a guy I was covering the Olympics with. We met a woman along the way and the three of us misfit travelers had a grand time together.

We discussed the earth and its famous “old rocks,” from the ancient pyramids in Egypt to, obviously, Stonehenge. To thank us for letting her join us on our motley adventure, JC bought Alan and I pens exclaiming “Stonehenge Rocks.” I keep that pen in my travel bag, which holds my iPod, headphones, passport and a few other miscellanious travel items when flying someplace.

While in Easter Island, I took a picture of my pen in front of the famous moai and sent the photo, along with something along the lines of “More famous old rocks!” to the gang. That collection of famous old rocks is growing, apparently, as my wife and I recently booked flights to Machu Picchu.

We’re excited about our upcoming adventure and, while it is the tail-end of their rainy season, we are still stoked about going to explore someplace new. Travel is the one thing you buy that makes you richer. Travel is like an investment in yourself. It makes you more interesting, more fun, and more understanding.

I studied the Inca culture in grade school and am excited to be able to learn more about their mysterious culture. Their ruins are fantastic, as is the mysterious history surrounding Machu Picchu. Not unlike the famed moai of Easter Island or the pyramids of Egypt, the ancient temples of Machu Picchu continue to inspire, amaze and make one wonder.

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Ahu Tahai Sunset

Ahu Tahai Sunset

On a few of the days my wife and I spent on Easter Island, we woke up in the morning and jogged from where we were staying, along the ocean, and over to Ahu  Tahai. It was exactly two miles round trip. (I’d probably go running every day if I had a route like that, but alas, in my Chicago neighborhood, there is no ocean, nor a centuries-old historical artifact to run to.

Before getting ready to head to the airport, my wife and I decided to go on one last run, to really get the blood flowing before the 22-hour journey home on an airplane. One of the few times we decided not to bring any cameras (point-and-shoot, fancy DSLRs, cell phones, etc.), we started our shoreline run to Ahu Tahai under sunny skies. As we approached the moai, a looming cloud came in and large drops of rain began falling down on us.

As quickly as the rains came, they then disappeared out over the ocean. Perfectly positioned behind the moai was probably the most crisp and beautiful rainbow my wife or I have ever seen. I turned to her, she turned to me, and we both looked down at our empty hands. No camera.

Oftentimes our favorite memories from our travels cannot be documented with a camera. Be it an exchange at a small farmers’ market, or an interaction with locals. Also included in that is sometimes I want to enjoy the moment, so I don’t raise my camera and fire off some frames.

Besides, in the end, it was more fun to think of Easter Island saying its own special goodbye to just us, because we didn’t bring any cameras.

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Traveling Moai at Ahu Togariki

My wife and I just returned from a week-long adventure to Easter Island.

Isla de Pascua, as the locals seem to refer to it, is located about 2,200 miles (3,540km) off the coast of Chile. It is the most isolated inhabited areas in the world. Well, sort of.

Apparently there is a small island, Tristan da Cunha, in the South Atlantic, nearly halfway in between South America and Africa. It’s closest neighbor, Saint Helena, is 1,509 miles (2,340km) away. The debate comes in because only 250 miles (400km) from Tristan da Canha is an island called Gough.

Gough houses six meteorologists from South Africa doing Antarctic Research. Since they don’t actually live on the island, but there are always six meteorologists, that’s where things get messy.

Some say “Since they don’t live there, it doesn’t count.” Others proclaim “There are always six. It does count.” The argument is a tough one, specifically for both islands.

Either way, Easter Island was one of the longest “travel days” we’ve ever had to endure to reach it — 22 hours — but, it was well worth it. The people are friendly, the weather is fantastic, and the history was awesome.

I’ll post more pictures as I get through them in the next few days, but in the meantime, here is an image of the “Traveling Moai” standing watch over Ahu Togariki on Easter Island.

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