The Boeing 767 from Papeete, French Polynesia to Hanga Roa, Easter Island seems brand new and all seats are equipped with a TV screen + remote control. Movies, hundreds of music albums, games of all sorts, radio channels, language lessons, Who Want’s to be a Millionaire and loads of other amusements are all crammed into the back of the seat in front of me. It’s great entertainment and I hardly get any sleep in those 5 hours in the plane. My brain is still severely undernourished after all this time on the road and I need to soak up all the info I can, no matter how bizarre and useless it is.
Arriving on Easter Island is a trifle surreal for me because of my lack of sleep all night. The eastbound flight ate 4 hours of my precious time (no one ever asks you if that’s okay or not) and thus the night is over before it really started.
The Chilean authorities are a bit fussy about bringing potential bacteria and biological oddities into their country. They are not particularly fond of my greasy jam & peanut butter sandwiches from Tahiti. With white plastic gloves (surgeon style) an inspector carefully opens all the sandwiches, some of them half-eaten, to check if everything is all right. Surprisingly, he hands the newly inspected sandwiches back to me and wishes me good luck on Easter Island.
Only about 4.000 people live on Easter Island. Almost all of them live in the main town Hanga Roa on the south west coast of the triangular shaped island, 3.500 km off the coast of South America.
Sitting on the pavement in that town, eating those sandwiches, a lady soon strikes up a conversation with me. I’d rather she left me alone (still zombie tired and hungry), eating my food and finding out where to sleep. But she doesn’t leave me alone. She immediately invites me to come and stay with her in her house next door.
Taken by surprise, I can’t (will not!) find an excuse and thus I’m now installed in her modest wooden house where Anna Julia (57) lives with her boyfriend cum fiancée Jaime (45) and their cat Agape (1). It was the quickest kidnap ever – and a very welcome one at that.
A walk around Hanga Roa shows that the number of jeans clad honey bums and flirting latina looks has risen dramatically since Tonga’s (all too) big mamas (no offence, I love them all!). It ain’t no bad progress, I tell you. Take it from me, the sad silver monk .
Hanga Roa is an altogether wonderful little town. Horses stroll up and down the main streets, a man sells carne de vaca from the back of his truck (no plastic, no fine entrecôte cuts here, it’s all natural and a bit bloody), the town shuts down completely during the afternoon siesta (and thus no way for me to change money). I love it here so far. Lots of sun and T-shirt temperatures.
After the dinner with Anna Julia, her brother Estéban, and Jaime I soon forget my tiredness when numerous Escudos, the local beer, are served. Chilean telenovelas make a boisterous noise from the TV, and soon we (the boys) all unite in a true brotherhood with colourful headbands in the local Isla de Pascua cowboy style.
I’m not overly fastidious, but this house is dirty. Really dirty, but I force myself to ignore it for now. It’s the kind of house where you don’t feel like touching the walls, the door knobs, and looking under the kitchen table and in the sorners of the room is a big no-no! Never mind the dirt because this is La Casa de Los Corazones (think I scored a few ”hermano points” for that one).
Well into my umpteenth Escudo, Estéban and I go to the Topa Tangi Bar, the local hotspot, with live music and quite a bit of that intimate Latin American party feeling that I’ve missed for too long now. Accompanied by new friends Christophe (France) and Alexandra (Chile) it is a wonderful night. Halleluja, lord, what a crazy Easter Island start for me.