Before the internet, you would look in a glossy brochure, read some information in the newspaper and book a trip. Your travel agent usually hadn’t been to the destination but was a good salesperson and convinced you it would be amazing! You could really be surprised by the destination back then. Now, there is rarely a destination that you can’t research to death online, knowing every nook and cranny before you leave. Knowing everything before you go provides a sense of comfort but also lends itself to the potential of missing out on discovering something new as you try to check off the items on your list. For my trip to Easter Island, I read a few trip reports online but didn’t quite have a grasp of what I was getting myself into going to the Island alone. I really had no clue on this trip, I hadn’t read the books, the history, I was going in as a blank slate. Scary and exciting at the same time.
At the airport, I flew past Paul, the tour guide/hotel owner thinking he was in the parking lot waiting for me rather than outside the airport arrival area. After realizing I read my confirmation email incorrectly, I started back to the group of people holding signs – there were many signs. Finding Paul, he laughed and said he thought I had a determined look of knowing where I was going (this would be my ” East Coast don’t mess with me look”) but figured it might be me. We were waiting for two other guests, a couple from the UK. Once they met us, we had quick introductions – they were Jess and Justin, and headed to the pickup truck. Paul apologized that the other vehicle was being used by guests. So into the dusty back seat I climbed (using my ninja yoga moves that I have now perfected climbing over sleeping passengers on planes). We slowly drove down the main street – about eight blocks long with three blocks lined with shops, lodging, restaurants and local buildings (school, church, post office). There wasn’t much to see here and I was beginning to think “How am I going to spend my free time walking around here?”. As the main street ended, we turned left and then turned right past small residential homes and a few B&Bs before turning onto the dirt road which ultimately led to the museum (the museum sign was great to find our way home).
Paul got out of the truck to open the gate to his property and we drove into the stone driveway. The main building was unfinished on the outside as was the smaller outer building, it looked like a construction site – now I was really thinking “glad I bought a few books because I’m stuck here, what was I thinking?”. We met the dog as Paul explained that he has been working on the house himself in his spare time (he has no spare time I would come to realize) as the materials and workers were unreliable in the past. He was fixing the prior work while he waited on supplies from the mainland which could take months to arrive.
I dropped my bags and left the property to explore to get an idea of what I had gotten myself into. Walking for about ten minutes down the red dirt road, I would find my first Moai and slowly all of my negative first impressions started to dissolve.
I took a few photos and was happy to see a rainbow. I texted a friend (yes, cell service works) to tell him I was on the island now and seeing a rainbow over on the other side of the island. Then a thought occurred to me – funny it didn’t rain here. Just when I hit send, it started to rain, it would be Disney rain (quick bursts as it passed over) but enough to soak me.
The rain felt like a literal washing of my grumpy thoughts – I would be ok here, if nothing else, I would need to slow down (shut off my auto pilot mode) and just be on holiday. The pictures online can’t convey that sense of stillness, the beauty of the Moai, the feeling that you are alone in the middle of the world and contented to be here.