Sunday, September 12, 2010

Biking the Island

I woke up this morning to the sound of light rain and roosters crowing in the distance.  And it reminded me of how I love the tranquility of Easter Island.  The sounds you hear are natural sounds: the wind passing by, animals barking and crowing, and the occasional wind chime.

Before I talk about my biking adventure, I shouldn´t forget to mention the "adventure" part of it.  No one rides with helmets here, not even on motorcycles it seems.  I asked about a phone number to call if I get a flat or had an accident or something, and the woman told me that I wouldn´t get cell phone reception on any part of the island where I would likely break down or have an accident, and that I would have to flag down a motorist passing by to get any type of assistance.  And then she handed me an air pump, repair kit, and camera.

After getting some breakfast I packed my bag, doused myself in sunblock, and mounted my bike to start the day´s adventure. 

And of course the first thing I did was get lost.

I got the sense that I wasn´t taking the right path, but the people at the hostel told me I would take three lefts to get out to the main street.  It turns out that they didn´t tell me that the first left wasn´t the first street I came to, but rather one a 5 minute ride further down the road.  This was a blessing in disguise, as I realized I missed one minor detail when I put on sunblock a bit earlier: my legs.  After putting it on I then continued.

The weather was warm and sunny, and there was a slight breeze.  I would say it was about 75 degrees, which was perfect biking weather.  My first stop was Puna Pau, and luckily it was all paved road on the way there.  At one point I came to a fork in the road and didn´t know which way to go.  My sister in law and I are both left handed, and she told me left-handed people are always right, so I didn´t sweat the decision too much.  I went right, and it turns out that both ways looped around to the same path.

Puna Pau is known for the construction of pukao, which were large lava colored rocks that were placed on top of the Moai statues.  They were supposed to represent their hair, but very few pukao actually made it on top of their heads.

After running into some people that were able to snap some pictures of me, I headed to the next stop.  Along the way I realized that I could kiss paved roads goodbye for a while.  The ride was uphill and bumpy, but I made it.  I also met some cows and horses along the way.

The next stop was Ahu Akivi, which is a famous archeological site with 7 well preserved Moai.  Then I locked up my bike and proceeded to hike up to Terevaka, which they say has the best view of the island.  As I locked my bike I noticed a cattle skull hanging on the fence, and I was hoping this wasn´t a sign someone was leaving for me.

The path was worn down due to tour vans, horses, and others that have taken the same path many times before me.  The gates along the way were not too welcoming with their barbed wire along the side, but I decided to continue on anyway.  There were amazing views of pastures with cows and horses, views of the ocean, some trees, and lots of green.

After about an hour of hiking, here is the view that I had:

I didn´t realize that there was a huge crater until I looked down.  It was a pretty amazing view and crazy to think that this place had once been the site of a volcano that erupted and caused this huge crater. 

I continued on, and then I came to another fork in the road.  From the looks of this one, however, they weren´t going to meet down the road.  Luckily I was able to figure out which way to go looking at my map.  Then I came to Ana Te Pahu, which is a cave.  It was a steep path down, and where the sun still shined there were banana trees.  Inside the cave it was cool and damp. This will sound very strange to almost all of you,. but the drops of water that fell in the cave reminded me of those in Mega Man 2 in the last cave before you fight Dr. Wily.

After that, I looped around and was now on the western side of the island.  I came to Ahu Tepeu, which didn´t look like it had much of anything at all.  But I decided to follow the path down and check it out anyway.

The site wasn´t very spectacular and didn´t have any Moai, but the view was breathtaking.  I was right along the ocean, and it was blue as far as you could see.  The only thing you could hear was the light breeze and the water crashing against the coast. 
It was about 3 in the afternoon by this time, and I had a nice downward path along the coast back to town.  Along the way I stopped and got some pictures of the waves crashing against the rocks along the shore.

It was about a 6 hour trip, and I loved every minute of it.  I got a rush from going downhill and biking on an unpaved road, and working up a sweat in the sun was such a good feeling.  This bike ride reminded me of how much I love biking as a way of exploring new places, and it brought me back to past biking adventures in Oaxaca, Germany, Argentina, and San Diego.

So, despite the risk involved evertying turned out fine.  Some time ago if I were told the same thing with the risks of the biking trip I might not have done it.  But every step in life involves some type of risk, and if you never did anything that involved any type of risk you might as well not live life.

It´s experiences like this that make me feel alive, and this is what life is all about.  Tomorrow I will be getting body art done and will bike to the beach.  And this time I will bring my bathing suit and a towel.

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