28.08.2014 - 28.08.2014
I got up early as hell to be in time for the transfer leaving at 5am. Though I couldn’t find the new batteries I just bought here in Santiago for my portable baggage scale why I had to pack my baggage with my gut feeling and with a little anxiety for having to pay for over-weight on the flight. When time was 4.45am the receptionist phoned up to my room and announced that my transfer had arrived. Since I was already half stressed to death (over not finding the batteries) this announcement didn’t ease my stress at all! I pressed down the last stuff in my baggage and more or less forced the zipper closed. “Shit! I’ll never make the weight limit”, I thought to myself and shrugged… there was nothing I could do now. I wanted to bring everything with me back home and not leave anything behind. Took the elevator down to the reception and checked out, loaded the baggage into the transfer and sank down on the seat in the car. Boo so early in the morning it was!
I arrived well in time at Santiago Arturo Benítez International Airport. The flight to Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) was originally departing at 8am but was later changed to departure at 9.05am. I guess my travel agency forgot to delay my transfer to the airport with one hour as well… well, it’s better to be too early than late! I got in line to LAN Airlines check-in desks and nervously waited. Now for it! Not more than 23 kg was allowed for the baggage. And if someone wonders – yes, flights to Easter Island counts as international flights (even though the island belongs to Chile) so that’s why the weight limit for checked-in baggage is 23 kg. I was super nervous when they called me up to a desk and I told the man behind the desk that I had no idea what my bag would weigh in at before I it up on the scale. I saw how the digital numbers on the scale just went higher and higher to finally end up at 22,9 kg! Wow! I made it with a hairbreadth! Sometimes you need a little luck too I got my boarding card and walked away to the security check with light steps and since it was so early in the morning there was no line. Nice! I bought myself a sandwich and some water that had to do as breakfast. Then I had some to kill and I barely could stay awake.
When it was finally time for boarding I was just as tired and slow-witted as any. The airplane was quite big though, a sort of Dream Liner model but with 2+3+2 seats per row and my travel agency had pre-booked window seats for me just as I wanted. Between Santiago de Chile and Easter Island the flight took about 5 hours and 45 minutes and therefore food was included onboard. I made a few attempts to get some sleep but as always it’s hard to get any quality sleep during flights. Finally when the plane started to descend for landing I couldn’t see any island in sight but that’s not so strange since Easter Island is a very small island with an area of only 164 km2. Easter Island is more or less shaped like a triangle and the islands only airport Mataveri International Airport is situated in the south corner. Since it’s a small island means practically that the runway starts at the southeast coast and stretches 3,3 km east and stops at the northeast coast. So the pilots can’t afford any mistakes during landing or take-off or they will end up in the ocean! So with delight mingled with terror I could only watch through the window and hope for the best when the ocean got more and more close underneath the airplane.
Eventually I could spot the coastline of Easter Island and reinsure myself that the island was within reach when the plane took ground and braked. Luckily the passengers cannot see the end of the runway (that ends with cliffs into the ocean) getting closer and how much or little marginal the pilot actually has.
I disembarked the airplane with tired legs when an intense moisture heat hit me and since I just had left a chilly and cold Santiago I had quite warm clothes on me. But here on Easter Island it was +25 °C, nice and sunny and freshly but warm winds. Mataveri International Airport may be the vastest airport in the world but I want to state one of the smallest ones too, since we had to walk from the airplane on the ground and in to a small wooden building that represented the actual terminal building. I was in a real hurry to get inside since I really needed to use the restroom, but I noticed people stood in line at a small booth just by the entrance to the airport. But I had to walk them by to find a restroom. Even though the airport is small they did have a baggage belt where all the bags arrived on but the space around the belt was too small so people almost stood on top of each other to get their baggage. When I finally spotted my bag I literally had to push myself through the crowd to get it. It was really hot inside the arrival area, just as hot as the outside temperature.
Now all tired in both body and mind I had to find my transfer and I started to glance through all the signs one by one and found a sign with my name on it. It was a relatively tall man that I assume was a native rapa nui, he gave me a flower-necklace and welcomed me and for a short moment I thought I had arrived to Hawaii instead. He loaded my baggage into his transfer bus and asked me if I had bought my ticket to the national park. “Uuuhm, what ticket?” I said and felt totally confused. Then I remembered that it was probably that ticket all the people in line was waiting for to buy, when I had just walked by in search for a restroom. Except from the airport you can only buy the ticket to Orongo National Park (Orongo Parque Nacional) in one other place on the entire island, so remember to buy the ticket on the airport if you plan to visit Easter Island. So I had to go back to that booth to buy the ticket (30000 CLP = 30 Euro) and then back to the transfer. I sat down in the transfer next to another passenger named Emily. While the driver was waiting for a third person Emily and I started to chat a little. Emily was originally from London and been travelling around the world for 3 months and now just arrived with the same flight as I had. When the driver had gathered all three of us he drove off the airport and towards Hanga Roa and our hotels. First stop was Hotel O’Tai, my hotel where I was staying. The driver thought that Emily was the one staying there so when I said “That’s also my hotel” he got confused. So he had to look in his papers and realized that yes, this was my hotel and Emily was staying at another hotel… I’m lucky I was alert and noticed it was my hotel. Who knows where else he could have dropped me off at?
I checked in and got the key to my room. Hotel O’Tai is beautifully situated in a blooming garden decorated with native flowers, palm trees and small replicas of moai. The hotel’s 40 rooms are embedded in the lushly garden divided in separate buildings and my room was in a corner of one of the buildings – perfect! My room was in a clay-house-building so it was nice and cool inside and from my room you could hear the ocean but in order to see it you had to walk further away. There was no TV in the room and in order to get WiFi you had pay an extra fee. I quickly changed into more suitable clothes before heading out to grab something to eat. I found a restaurant on the main street Atamu Tekena. If you visit Easter Island it’s a must to try out one of all the local fish dishes they have to offer. I dared a tuna fish with rice and a tasty orange/pineapple juice. Then I walked down to the beach and walked along the coastline to Hanga Roa and photographed some moai.
Unfortunately the sun shined from behind so I decided to get back another day for pictures when the sun shined from another angle. It was really windy along the coast, almost chilly, in the late afternoon but as soon as you got in lee it got hot again. I got to experience a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean later that evening and soon thereafter it got really cold outside. The few street lights that do exist in Hanga Roa were lighted up and it was time to get back to the hotel again. If you plan to visit Easter Island, do remember to bring some kind of flashlight or your cell phone to light up the way in front of you after sunset. Because there aren’t many street lights in Hanga Roa and it gets dark really fast and on top of that the sidewalks are of insufficient quality, rough and edgy and along many sidewalks runs deep slots… so you really need to watch out where you’re walking in the dark.