Day 13: Rapa Nui/Santiago
Today we woke up and jumped in the Explora van by 7AM (while it was still dark out) in order to watch the sunrise over Ahu Tongariki – a very recognizable row of 15 maui on the east end of Easter Island (or, if that doesn’t ring a bell, the ones in the picture at the top of this blog).
We found a good place to set up the camping chairs (hooray for another excellent opportunity to use Ã¢â‚¬Ëœem) and patiently awaited the sunrise. Eventually, the sun rose (as expected!), but it began to “dawn” on us that the clouds were not planning on cooperating (thank you, please tip your waiters, we’ll be here all week).
Likely because Ahu Tongariki is very close to the quarry, the moai at this location are larger than others on the island. Along with the picturesque rocky coastline right behind them, they look pretty darn majestic. Although direct sunlight didn’t make an appearance this morning, we enjoyed a peaceful hour of taking in the view while chilling in the tropical island breeze and hanging out with a couple of dogs.
Upon our return to Explora, we ate breakfast, drank more coffee, and returned to our room to pack our bags. We had plenty of time to peruse the gift shop, order a steady supply of pineapple sours from the bar (bringing the total number of sour varieties tasted on this trip to five – along with calafate, passion fruit, pisco, and amaretto), and enjoy the view from the hotel before heading to the airport. As a surprise, we were gifted traditional Rapa Nui shell necklaces when we departed – which are said to have the mystical power to “call you back” to the island someday (won’t argue with that).
At the airport, we scanned our bags for contraband (successfully proving we did not have any sand, rocks, fruits, moai, etc), checked them, and received our boarding pass indicating gate one (of one). When the immigration/security line opened, we passed through and waited in the most awesome terminal ever. Sitting outside in sunny, 60-degree tropical weather while waiting to board your plane makes the whole flying thing much more pleasant.
The flight went smoothly, and when we landed, we successfully fended off the barbarians at the baggage carousel, who apparently don’t mind getting up in your personal space while waiting for their luggage. Plus, there was a very large school/church group of teens on our flight, which made the baggage area feel like a mosh pit at a KPop concert (unless that’s mixing two things that do not cross, in which case we plead old).
To get to our hotel in Santiago, we attempted to order up an Uber until the app payment method failed (some sort of dollars vs pesos credit card issue, maybe) and beyond that, a police officer lady told us they are illegal at the airport (or at least that’s what it sounded like she said). Anyways, we took an official taxi instead. We arrived in no time, checked in and decompressed. The room is an awesome, top-floor, corner room with a great view because we decided to live it up and go for the huge $7 upgrade option at the time we booked (which we had forgotten about until we got on the elevator). Yep, we are definitely high rollers now.