Kind of amazing.
After the walking tour in Santiago, relaxed at the hostel for a bit, grabbed a cab to the airport (another 14,000 pesos) and caught my flight, barely, to Easter Island. When I arrived at the airport, I stashed my bag there instead of carting back and forth across the ocean. But then I noticed on the flight boards that my flight was now leaving an hour early. Cue mega panic attack.
I'd just about worked it out in my head that I wouldn't make it to Easter Island and what would I do instead, when the ticketing agents got it sorted and I managed to race through security and customs and get on my flight. When I got to Lima, of course my flight was delayed so I spent five extra hours in the airport but at least they let us in the VIP lounge to wait. But it did bring back memories of my trip to Peru in 2008, when I spent plenty of time in the Lima airport.
Of course I couldn't sleep on that flight, which was probably a bad idea while in South America.
Landed on Easter Island and had no plan whatsoever, so after navigating through customs again and talking to a very rude hostel/tour guy, I just went outside and found a taxi.
The driver was trying to tell me how much it would cost and he was saying 30,000 pesos (about $60 USD) and for some reason I was sure I didn't have that much. I'll blame it on the lack of sleep, because I definitely did. Another tourist heard my confusion and came over to help and we got everything sorted.
So instead of paying hundreds for a private tour that day, I got my own taxi and tour by a local for $80 USD in the end.
The water is stunningly clear and incredible and the air is also very clean. Alex talked about the pollution in Santiago and said it's not that way on Easter Island. There's only about 5,000 people living there. Alex said less than half are descendants of the native population and most work in tourism from the looks of it. I heard from another traveler that moving to Easter Island is a tough thing to do, but hard to say what the real rules are.
Side note, if you go to Easter Island, which you should, do not walk too close to the moai. They're considered sacred ceremonial sites and it's completely improper and disrespectful to the locals.
We chatted about my trip and his taxi business, but mostly, I just stared at the blueness of the ocean and the sky and the immenseness of how far from anything I was...and I loved it. Cruising along dirt roads in a rickety Nissan with a local on one of the most mysterious islands on Earth was a far cry from sitting in D.C. traffic trying to get somewhere I didn't really want to go and being stressed about nothing all the time.
One of my favorite things about travel is the perspective you get when you see how others live with so little and seem so happy and are reminded of real problems and what truly matters to you. Cut off from the world with no cell phone, social media, tv, whatever, you just meet new people, learn about their lives and cultures and feel small in a big world again. It's a good feeling.
I saw people up on the site walking awfully close to the moai, hopefully someone up there set them straight. We hopped back in the car and headed to the next site, which was the one I was most excited to see. Some of the ones in this photo are pretty recognizable, but the next site might be the most iconic of the place.
I spent quite a bit of time just staring at this site. With the bluest ocean behind it, clear skies and a breeze, it was one of those incredible "I am here" moments.