Deteriorating conditions on the water caused the Chilean Armada to close Hangaroa Bay and all water activities. (For the next 6 days we are stranded on land due to storms)
We spent the day post-processing pictures, data, and exploring the island. Here are the many wonders of Rapa Nui:
On the south west corner of this island lies Orongo, a filled in crater that extends some 300 meters deep (that’s over 1,000 feet!). Ancient stone houses were carved into the side of the hillside for past peoples to escape the constant winds. In tribal times, the Birdman Competition, would be held here. The ritual was an annual competition to collect the first sooty tern (manu tara) egg of the season from the islet of Motu Nui, carefully strap the egg in a forehead basket, swim back to Rapa Nui and climb the sea cliff of Rano Kau to the clifftop village of Orongo with the egg unbroken.
The monolithic Moai statues were painstakenly carved from the sides of a crater at Ranu Raraku on the eastern part of the island, and transported to the coasts all around the island. Seeing these giants buried up to their shoulders was truly awe-inspiring.
As with many cultures throughout time and around the world, there once existed much tension between the villages and peoples on this island. In the midst of conflict, most of the Moai were toppled over, their red hats (archeologists still don't know the significance of these hats) sometimes rolling all the way into the ocean.
In the 1950’s- 1960’s archaeologists restored Moai around the island, the pinnacle of their effort being Tongariki, a collection of 15 Moai side by side on the east coast. Some of these giants were 18 meters high, and only basic instruments were used in their resurrection- stones, trees, and rope.