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S E C T I O N 2 Destinations S TO R I E S A B O U T T R AV E L A N D A DV E N T U R E B Y L O C A L P E O P L E -AGICAL ISLAND Barbara Wood and daughter eschew tourist guides and discover Easter Island on their own By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac / ur goal was to see the sun rise behind the row of 15 massive stone busts at Ahu Tongariki on Easter Island, but as we jolted along potholed dirt roads toward our destination in a small rented SUV driven by an exuberant Israeli who seemed to know where he was going, it looked like we Barbara Wood wouldn’t make it. The clouds were coloring in the east and we had left 15 minutes later than planned, and, to make things worse, this was our only chance as my daughter and I were leaving the island the next day. Finally we arrived at our destination, squeezed ourselves out of the vehicle and rushed, cameras in hand, to join about 20 others with the same goal. We had made it. For the next 20 minutes it was photographers’ heaven as we watched the clouds take on flamboyant colors that Photos by Barbara Wood a set designer might chose as the perTop picture: This sight of the sun rising over Ahu Tongarik, the largest fect backdrop to the mysterious moai, group of restored moai statues on Easter Island, was almost missed stone statues weighing an average of by Barbara Wood and her daughter. Above: This volcano crater, with nearly 14 tons that have fascinated and a slice of the Pacific Ocean appearing through one rim, is just one of the natural features of Easter Island that can be discovered as part of perplexed Easter Island visitors since a day hike or a short drive. Europeans first discovered the island on Easter day in 1722. I traveled to Easter Island in early Chile, even further away at 2,300 miles to the east. January because my daughter wanted to go, but it While the tourism authorities recommend exploring turned out be a place filled with many of things I with a guide, my 21-year-old daughter and I both like love most — friendly people, archeological wonders to hike, so armed with maps we traversed much of the with mysteries attached, photos begging to be taken island on foot and on our own. everywhere, and all on a tropical island in the southern While Western visitors took away many of the island’s hemisphere, where January is summer and the ocean treasures after they arrived in 1722, so many natural and fine for swimming. Even better, most of those things man-made wonders remain that exploring the island is a were within hiking distance of our guest house. constant experience of discovery. According to informaEaster Island is technically a part of Chile, although the tion in the Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum Rapa Nui, as the island inhabitants like to call both them- on the island, Easter Island was formed by the eruption selves and their island, are not particularly happy about of several volcanoes starting three million years ago. it. Easter Island is literally in the middle of nowhere, in The volcanoes left behind many caves and also a huge the South Pacific, with the closest inhabited island being crater, which is where we hiked on our first day. The crater Pitcairn, not exactly centrally located itself at 1,242 miles is a visual delight with a patchwork of colors and textures to the west. So it’s easy to understand why Easter Island Continued on next page inhabitants feel they don’t have much in common with April 3, 2013NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN25

The Almanac 04.03.2013 - Section 2

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