26th April: Easter Island (Ahu Hanga Kio’e)

Ahu Hanga Kio'e

We arrived at Ahu Hanga Kio’e before dawn, with only a few horses for company.

Ahu Hanga Kio'e

This is reputedly the last ahu built, in the mid 1600s.  The moai is in reasonably good repair and appears to have eye sockets so presumably the ivi atua (priests) would have inserted eyes on special occasions.

Ahu Hanga Kio'e

There is also a second, smaller ahu here with a fragment of a moai.  I haven’t featured it here but the rounded bump on the far right skyline is that moai fragment.

Ahu Hanga Kio'e

Moai contemplating the dawn.

Ahu Hanga Kio’e means ahu on Kio’e Bay and kio’e is rat so it’s the ahu on rat bay.  To us that might sound like noxious rodent ahu but the Rapanui were particularly short of meat and rats were part of their diet so maybe it was more like the ahu on fast food bay.

just behind the ahu

Just after dawn, a couple of riders ushered about 50 horses past on the road.  Ahu Hanga Kio’e is on the northern edge of Hanga Roa.  I am taking this photograph from beside the ahu so you can see how close some of the houses are.  The volcanic cone in the background is Maunga TangaroaMaunga Puna Pau, where the Rapanui excavated the pukao or topknots is probably visible but off frame to the right.

We are not far here from where we found some petroglyphs at the side of the road, unheralded on flat pieces of lava.  Lots of horses wandering around obviously accelerate erosion of the petroglyphs.

22nd April: Easter Island (Cemetery in Hanga Roa)

The cemetery in Hanga Roa, right beside the Tahai Complex, is a curious mixture of Spanish Catholic, Polynesian and traditional Rapanui influences.

View over the cemetery from near the front

We came past here after we stopped in town for lunch as we travelled between Orongo and Ranu Raraku.  Not perhaps your typical cemetery….

Petroglyph on the back of a tombstone

The image to the right shows the back of a tombstone with a petroglyph of a tangata manu (the birdman) as we saw in the Orongo post.  My guess is that it’s genuine.

It’s probably a bit hard to see unless you know what you’re looking for.  It’s a man’s body with the head of a frigate bird.  The head of the bird (above the body) is round, with a big round eye inside that, and above that is the hooked beak of the frigate bird.

Hanga Roa

Hanga Roa itself is a nice laid back friendly little place.  You can sit at a seaside cafe and watch the surfers and the bathers (depending on the weather).  The food is surprisingly good, especially the seafood, and there are lots of restaurants.

It might not be a good place to get drunk at night because the drains in the gutters are about three feet deep and have concrete covers but many of the covers are missing.  Many of the roads on the island are pretty good but some of the minor paved roads in town have as much pothole area as road surface.

There many dogs roaming around in Hanga Roa and they are surprisingly friendly and well-behaved.  It’s the only place I’ve ever been where in the late afternoon when the roads are warm, you may have to drive especially carefully to avoid running over dogs asleep on the road.

However, the recent history is not pretty.  From the annexation by Chile in 1888 to the mid 20th century – I think, 1964 – those few Rapanui who had survived syphilis, smallpox, kidnapping, murder and rape were confined to the village of Hanga Roa and commonly treated savagely by their farmer, colonial or naval overlords (depending on the period).  The population of the island is approaching 5,000 and the vast majority of that remains in Hanga Roa.