The prospect of sunrise bursting over the moai of Ahu Tongariki and a few more moments with my new friend Moa got me on the road while the stars were still out. Missing a few billion sky sparkles over your city? They have been collecting them for you way out here in the Pacific.
The potholed coastal road to the north east was a challenge in the darkness and as I passed roadside Rapanui camps I dipped the 4WD’s lights for those still slumbering.
On the road it seemed like I was the only person on the island stirring, but as I walked towards the 15 stone giants of Tongariki I could see I was among like-minded strangers.
Camera lights flickered across the field in front of the moai. Scattered positions had already been taken on the rocks and grass. No one was too close in the dark.
I found a spot, snapped, waited, snapped and waited some more. Inexplicably, people left in the twilight before the true sun emerged. Did they have somewhere better to be?
It was blink and you’ll miss it as the dawn’s glory was soon done and dusted.
Sunlight got the till g-string wearing Moa out of his cave so I went over to say hello. He was making lemongrass tea from freshly picked stalks.
After drinking tea he showed me his garden, which is surprisingly in full view of tourists. Fruit and vegetables were growing in a small space, protected by rocks near the moai. There were lemongrass, taro, another root vegetable I didn’t recognize and and expanse of small Rapanui pineapples. The later were being grown from the refuse of a nearby pineapple stand manned by Moa’s neighbours.
He was extremely happy to pose for a few photos with tourists, but I felt weird about asking for the same. He put down his coffee cup to do it.
We chatted in simple English and gestures a bit more and I left promising to return.
The crater lake used to be the island’s main water supply. People would clamber up and down the steep slopes with hollowed out pumpkins to carry fresh water to homes.
The whole area is being rehabilitated and tourists are prohibited from trying their luck down scrambling up and down the sides of the crater.
I caught a glimpse of this Rapanui couple on the return leg. It looked hard going. They had to stop constantly and did not seem exactly sure of the best path. They were carrying bags of some untold delicacy that must have been worth the effort and danger.
I’ll leave you with this stunning sunset.. of which there have been many this week on Easter Island.