We all have “dream” destinations, places we’ve always wanted to go. And I don’t mean somewhere belonging in a bucket list of places to visit before you die. I mean, the destinations that are so eccentric and out of reach that you don’t even dare put on your bucket list. The type of place nobody you know has ever been to, yet, you dream of going. Quietly, you make plans, read up about the place, how to get there, what to do, see, where to stay. Until you know so much about the place you could win any game show set on it. But it’s all a dream, a place you’ll go eventually, after you finish your tour of south east Asia (coz, after all, you are already there), or after you go to the Caucasus (because the area is changing so much and so quickly you need to visit it before it loses its old-world charm). So you keep postponing it, happy to wait for the “right” moment. And then one day your best friend tells you “No ifs, ands, or buts, get your things, we are going”.
For me that place was Easter Island (Rapa Nui in the local language) and the right moment was October 2014.
Was it as special as I thought it would be? Yes and no.
Yes, because seeing a Moai with my own eyes is not something I’ll ever forget;
Watching the sunset in the pacific ocean behind them was glorious;
Siting on the grass hearing the guide give us all those little tidbits you can’t get through reading was both relaxing and informative (and how often do you get to say relaxing and informative in the same sentence?);
Feasting on the local cuisine was just that, a feast;
Walking through caves formed thousands, if not millions of years ago, when the volcanoes that gave birth to the island erupted, was deeply humbling and mesmerizing;
Horse riding to the center and highest peak of the island coz its the only way there and it offers the best views was simply lots of fun (even if it meant enduring very sore muscles the morning after);
And No because while I adjourned Easter Island modern tourism arrived and with it the islanders adapted and some of the authenticity (if such a word even exists) of the island was lost. Let me explain, besides the Moai, Easter Island is famous for its dances so we wanted to see/participate in one and were told the only way was to go to a show (I cringed at the word but accepted it as inevitable). However, the show was so absurdly geared for tourists I couldn’t even enjoy it.
But who am I kidding? Easter island was all it promised to be and more. True, the weather wasn’t on our side and the dance show was touristy but I was finally in Easter Island and in the company of my other I. Plus, what a few days earlier had been a 5-hour friendship in San Pedro de Atacama turned into a week-long blast when our paths crossed once more with “D” (This time not on the bus to the Moon Valley but on the same flight to Easter Island) and he became our partner in crime. And Oh, what a majestic crime it was!