Matt & Emmy in Antarctica & Easter Island travel blog

A reasonable request

Rano Raraku quarry

A half-burried moai

Emmy at the quarry

Partially carved moai, abandonded in place

Unfinished moai

Ahu Tongariki

Moai with restored hat at Ahu Tongariki

After breakfast at the hotel, we drove across most of the island (30 minutes or so) to Rano Raraku, the quarry where the islanders carved the giant moai statues. This quarry was located on the side of a volcanic cone, which gave the carvers relatively easy access to the stone.

It is believed that the stateus were carved in place and then transported across the island to wherever they were going to be set up, with only final finish work to be done there. Clearly, the quarry was abandoned while still in operation, because there are dozens of moai scattered around in various states of completion. Some are almost entirely finished, and seem as if they might have been being moved when abandoned. Others are half carved out of the rock, clearly requiring more work. In our accompanying pictures, some moai seem to be sticking out of the ground. In fact, their bodies extend full length - soil has just piled up since they were abandoned, covering much of the sculpture.

The largest moai seen here is nearly 21 metres in height (and it was never finished). There are many theories how these monoliths were moved after completion. It must have been exceedingly difficult to move them without damaging them, as is evidenced by the numerous moai whose heads were broken off (the neck being the weakest point on the statue).

We hiked to the top of the caldera, providing an impressive view of the island and making it clear how difficult it must have been to carefully move the moai down the hill and to their destinations. We had a picnic lunch, and after lunch we visited the nearby Ahu Tongariki, the largest ceremonial site in all of Polynesia, which has about 15 restored moai in place. After this visit, we wen to the only sand beach on the island at Anakena and had a swim in the Pacific. The beach was set in a small cove and had pretty good sized waves.

In the evening we dined at a restaurant in Hanga Roa, and on our return to the hotel, we watched "Rapa Nui", an absolutely horrific movie produced by Kevin Costner in his immediately pre-waterworld days. It got the history and culture entirely wrong, the acting was terrible, and the plot made no sense. It is so bad it is almost worth seeing. Visit IMDB for details

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