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    South by South America Tour – Chile Part 9

    Thursday, August 29, 2019
    Santiago to Rapa Nui, Chile

    The Eco Taina Cafe in Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, Chile.
    The Eco Taina Cafe in Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, Chile.

    Since I had to set out for the Santiago airport in the middle of the night, I just stayed awake. There was no point in kidding myself that Mr. Sleep would bestow even the slightest amount of shut eye upon me. A few minutes before 3:00 am, a driver in a grey mini-van taxi showed up and whisked me at breakneck speed through the trafficless streets and roads to the airport around 20 kilometers away from the city center. Inside, I took a big plastic bag of produce I had bought at the market the day before and crammed the contents of it into every available nook and cranny in my backpack and messenger bag until they were both bulging. I did this because I read that food is considerably more expensive on Rapa Nui.

    Bright greenery in Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, Chile.
    Bright greenery in Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, Chile.

    After that, I had to deal with the usual confusion regarding language barriers, signage etc. It took me a while to figure out that Latam Airlines referred to Easter Island as Isla de Pascua on the electronic departures sign, and not the more common Rapa Nui for some weird reason. Once I figured out that, I was able to navigate my way to the correct gate. At 6:30 am, the flight, which was mostly full of what appeared to be folks from Argentina and Chile, finally took to the sky. After a meager breakfast that consisted of a small omelette and a few slices of apple, I draped a blanket over my head for privacy (and to ward off any people who might try to take a selfie with me in the background for comic relief) and managed to saw wood for maybe three hours.

    A mural on a house in Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, Chile.
    A mural on a house in Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, Chile.

    When I woke up, sure enough, a young lady sitting next to me tried repeatedly to take a selfie with me in the upper right corner of her screen. I could plainly see what she was up to. I just kept blocking her attempts with my blanket until she finally gave up. Upon touchdown, the landing gear slammed harshly into the pavement, which made for quite a rough landing. That pilot must be an amateur. Exiting the jet, we trudged across the tarmac in really chilly, rainy weather, which really surprised me. I was expecting hot weather on Rapa Nui. After I pulled my backpack off of the luggage carousel, I stepped outside, where a lady from La Casa del Kori was holding up a sign with several names on it, one of which was mine.

    A muddy back lane in Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, Chile.
    A muddy back lane in Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, Chile.

    After a friendly greeting, she threw a lei ( a “necklace” of flowers) over my neck. I had never experienced that kind of reception before. I was stoked. Along with a young couple, we piled into the car and got a quick tour of the main drag of Hanga Roa, the only town on Rapa Nui. After we checked into the hostel, I passed out on my bed for a good three-hour nap, followed by a walk in the late afternoon sunlight down to the main drag to buy some snacks to have with my dinner of produce I brought over from Santiago. The food was pretty expensive, but not oppressively so.

    A Kodak moment in Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, Chile.
    A Kodak moment in Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, Chile.

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

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