Our LAN Chile flight to Easter Island left Santiago at 8 a.m., so we had another early-morning departure for the airport. This time, I did remember to not pack all my shoes. The flight to Easter Island was about 5 1/2 hours, made easier because LAN allows you to buy upgrades to business class at the airport for about $150 each. The plane was a brand-new 767 with a business class section nicer than any American airline I've flown. Easter Island is about 2000 miles west of mainland Chile and is one of the most remote inhabited places on earth. On the flight, we headed out over the Pacific in about 30 minutes, and the only other land we saw before arriving on Easter Island was a brief glimpse of Robinson Carusoe Island. We were accompanied on our flight by Richard White, the Lindblad staff member who was accompanying us on the trip as our guide. Richard is British, and his background is as a birder and naturalist. He lived several years in the Falklands and is headed down to join the Endeavour in late January for the remainder of the Antarctic season.
We arrived at the airport around lunchtime. IPC is the airport code - Isla de Pascua is "Easter Island" in Spanish, so named because it was first spoted by a European explorer on Easter Sunday. The runway is massive - the US lengthened it so it could serve as an emergency landing strip for the space shuttle. Other than that, it is a typical small airport with a single building and no jet bridge. We deplaned to the audience of (it seemed) 50% of the island population, who apparently ofen come out to see the one plane a day that lands here (until recently, LAN only provided service 3 days a week). We were met by Edmundo Edwards, a Chilean archeologist who has lived and worked on Easter Island since the 1960s. He will serve as our local guide on the island.
The 14 of us were shuttled to our hotel, the Taha Tai Hotel, which was nice but fairly basic (Emmy said it seemed like it was from the 1960s), and which is apparently the 2nd nicest hotel on the island. The small town in which it was located, Hanga Roa, is the only town on the island and houses a majority of the 3800 permanent residents of the island. We had lunch at a nearby restaurant, followed by a siesta, and then dinner at a small restaurant in town.
In the evening we ventured to another hotel nearby to see a traditional music and dance performance. I was a little underwhelmed by the dance aspect, but the music was impressively loud and interesting.