Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Magnificant Moai

For our second day on the island we decided to take a tour to tackle the site-filled south coast, hoping to benefit from the expertise of a local guide. We were extremely lucky to be given a guide who had an absolute wealth of knowledge, and offered plenty of fascinating information about each area we visited.

One of the wonderful things about the island is that it is basically a giant open-air museum, and the south coast has some of the best examples of Moai, evidence of their construction and erection, as well as gorgeous coastlines and crystal clear waters. We stopped at the biggest reconstruction of a Moai platform on the island (15 in a row), foundations of the boat-shaped houses of islanders, petroglyphs carved into rocks, and possibly my favourite area – the quarry where the Moai were carved, which still holds hundreds of Moai, some complete, some buried, and some still joined to the rock, frozen in time in the middle of construction. It was an amazing area – so many statues dotted along the hillside in various states and forming out of the rocks. We climbed up a steep path to see the largest Moai ever made – at 21 metres it was never finished, but the scale seemed almost impossible.

As we travelled through the south coast we saw numerous other platforms which were unrestored, their Moai lying face down over or next to them. The statues are so impressive it is quite moving to see them toppled over, face down. Towards the end of the tour we stopped at ‘the navel of the world’ – a sea smooth large stone with a high iron content and a magnetic field which was sacred to the islanders and apparently still exudes energy (although I didn’t feel anything when I touched it unfortunately!). Arriving at the only main beach, with a small platform of six Moai, it began to rain, which was disappointing until we saw a beautiful rainbow arching over the platform which looked spectacular over the statues and was a picture-perfect ending to the day. Taking a tour turned out to be a great decision – our guide was incredibly informed and very passionate about both the history and modern life of the island, and really made everything come alive even more for us.

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