We woke up today at 8:00 am, needing to pack and eat by 9:30. At breakfast we noted that staying in the Explora lodge, it's kind of like college, but with every day basically being a year. When you come in, you're the Freshman who doesn't know anything about anything, and everyone else there has been there longer than you. Each day, one of the "seniors" leaves, new people come in, and so on. We found out the Swiss couple (we never did learn their names, btw) was also leaving, so the people who had just arrived yesterday (the annoying American, the Scottish lady, the Brazilians and the American couple) are now the most senior.
We dropped off our bags at the airport at 9:32. Explora makes sure this gets taken care of first thing, because otherwise a long line starts. After dropping off the bags, we headed just north of Hanga Roa to Ahu Tahai. The Tahai area has three ahus all in close proximity. Two of the ahus have single Maoi on top, the other ahu has multiple maois. One of the single Maoi is the only one – we think – that has any eyes. The eyes were traditionally made of white coral, with obsidian or red scoria for the pupils. When the maoi were knocked down, however, all of the eyes were destroyed. In fact, it was not well known that the Maoi even had eyes until the middle of the 1900s when some broken coral was found near one of the fallen maoi.
After viewing Tahai, we went to the small Rapa Nui museum nearby. It contained some rongo rongo tablets, which Justin was not expecting to see. It also had the only female Maoi ever carved. Tito told us when we were at the quarry that there was only the one completed female. The reason for so few female maoi is that the Rapa Nui believed the females to contain some sort of evil spirits or the like, and that the maoi were to represent of give homage to the leaders of the tribes, which were always male.
At a display showing the one broken eye that the archaeologists had found, we saw a picture of several restored maoi with eyes. We did not remember seeing this on any of our excursions, so we took a closer look at the photo. The photo was taken at Anakena, where we had been twice. The maoi there do not have any eyes. We asked Tito about this and he said that around 1981 or 1982, one night all of the eyes "disappeared." No one has any idea what happened or where they went. Very weird. The eyes on the maoi at Tahai were constructed in the traditional manner, by the people from that tribe, so even though the eyes are restored, the maoi nonetheless has its "mana" back.
We went from the museum to the post office, where we mailed off the postcards we had bought at the airport a little earlier. For a fee, the post office also stamped our postcards and our passports with an "official" (we think) seal from Rapa Nui. Since Rapa Nui is a part of Chile, and most people arrive from Santiago (Papeete is the only other place to come from), the passports are stamped in Santiago. Now we have both – hopefully we didn't accidentally invalidate our passports.
One last stop before going to the airport – it was now after 11 and our flight was due to depart at 12:05 – was at a fruit stand. The Swiss couple really wanted some pineapple, and really wanted us to have some as well. We told them were fine, but they bought us a pineapple anyway. We should have told them that good pineapple is easy to find in California because of the shipments from Hawaii. Anyway, the pineapple was good, and we thanked them heavily.
We thought we were headed for the airport, but then we stopped one last time at the lodge. The two managers, Eddie and Giovanna, gave us each a very nice necklace with a shell pendant and wished us well on our travels. Then it was on to the airport, where we said our goodbyes to Singha and Tito. We also got a picture of the two of us, the Swiss couple, Singha and Tito. We talked a bit to the Swiss couple in the airport, then got onto the plane. They answered a question we had asked them the day before – where their favorite place they had traveled to. They said that Egypt was probably the best, both because of the sheer magnitude of the buildings in the Valley of the Kings as well as the age of these buildings. Many of the buildings were built more than 4000 years ago.
The plane ride was interesting. The food was horrible – at least the food we got. The cart in the back of the plane started one row behind us, so we were almost the first to eat, but instead were the last. And instead of having chicken and potatoes, or at least having the choice of that, we ended up with this tortellini that had less taste than any pasta we've ever eaten. We also started talking about Tito and Singha, and wondering if we've ever had more-or-less private guides before. We remembered two of the drivers we had in Malaysia on our trip last year, but we could not remember their names. After a few minutes Justin remembered Matthew, the gentleman who drove us around KL. Quite awhile later, after racking his brain endlessly, Justin remembered Rachman as well – the gentleman who drove us to and from the firefly excursion in Kuala Selangor.
We landed in Santiago, and went through the same immigration line to leave the country that we had when we entered – that was new. Hernan met us to take us from one part of the airport to the other. Since we had already checked our luggage through and we already had our boarding passes, he was with us for only 10 minutes. While it was certainly welcome to us, we're sure he would have rather not driven in.
We sat around in the terminal for a bit, with Justin getting worse and worse. He had woken up a little sore, and it now had progressed to full-body aches and fever. When we got on the plane, we tried to go to sleep but did not have much luck. We did have better luck with the food – we were the last two people to get the chicken, as opposed to the pasta. Justin still didn't feel well, but we had no medication for cold or flu. We didn't really have any medication that would help at all. Except one – Midol. Justin felt bad enough to try it, and sure enough, two hours later he felt fine except for a small headache.
One passenger had a worse time than Justin, however. One row up and over from us (we were in the middle 3 seats) was an old man, who as far as we can tell was with his wife and daughter and son-in-law. Our best guess is that he was pretty intoxicated before he even boarded, and then he kept getting more wine on the plane – which is actually quite good, by the way, and not just for airplane wine. They cut him off about 1 hour into the flight. He kept making odd grunting noises and saying what few Spanish phrases he knew quite loudly. When we were getting up to get off the plane, he looked in bad shape, and Justin said to Crystal , "I think Grandpa is trashed." And then we smelled the alcohol from 5 feet away. And then the daughter turned her head towards us and tried to hide her laughter. We're not sure if she thought it was funny, or if she was so embarrassed/mortified she had no idea what else to do but laugh.
After spending 30 minutes in the immigration line, we picked up our bags and exited. There were literally hundreds of people waiting at the exit, with signs everywhere. We found the A&K representative, who didn't say anything about our age but did do a double-take when she saw us. She led us out to the van, and immediately gave us some bad news. Apparently our 7am flight for the next morning was not early enough, so now our flight was scheduled for 5:15. This meant we had to leave the hotel at 3:30. This meant we had to wake up at 3:00. She was telling us this at 11:30. We drove to the hotel, and she pointed out some of the sights of Lima. We spent the entire time thinking, "How are we going to get only 2-3 hours of sleep." The hotel was quite nice, and it actually had a good internet connection, so we uploaded the photos we had taken to date.