We hike from our campsite near Hanga Roa to the top of Rano Kao crater to see the crate and the lagoon inside it from above, and then carry on to the village of Orongo. This village wasn’t a normal village in that it was only lived in during certain times of the year. There was a society called the Birdman cult who lived here during certain months of the year. My apologies for any errors here, but in general I think this is what happened. The important members of society on the island were allowed to compete once each year to be named as the tangata-manu, or Birdman, for the year. They could compete themselves or name someone else to compete on their behalf. During the time that a migratory bird, the Manutara, arrived each year (in September), the men who were competing would climb down the rocky cliff of the outer rim of the volcano to the sea and then swim across a shark-infested channel to the furthest of three small islets just off the coast. They would live in caves on the island and wait for the first egg of the season to be laid and the man to claim it (or his sponsor) would be named Birdman. Sometimes men were killed by sharks….sometimes they were stabbed and killed by competitors….pretty rugged.
While the men were out on the island, the leaders of the society lived in the village at Orongo….and we can see the low flat stone houses perched high on the rim of the crater.
Learning about the culture and history of this place is unbelievably interesting to me….
On another day we rent bicycles and ride north out of Hanga Roa along the rocky coastline. We pass Ahu Tahai and ride toward Ana Kakenga, the cave of two windows. There are endless numbers of caves in the island, of all shapes and sizes. Lava tubes and caverns, skylights and nooks everywhere….
There are lots of wild horses out on this road too.
We find several of the coastal caves and do some minor exploring.
There are really sweet stray dogs all over the island and one adopts us along the trail today. I give her some water and some crackers….and wish I had more to give her.
As we keep heading north along the loop the road turns east and we stop by the “banana caves” at Ana Te Pahu. These are more like giant caverns that have skylights in them. Islanders have used these caves as gardens and banana trees and other plants are more sheltered here. It’s amazing to explore them.
On we go. Next stop Ahu Akivi, where the 7 large Moai face out to sea.
Then off to Panu Pau, the red rock quarry, where the Pukao were made.
We explore a cave near Hanga Roa and see cave paintings.
And one afternoon I get to wander in the tidal pools….one of my favorite pastimes.
On the last night of our trip we walked out to have a nice dinner near the harbor and then watch the sunset near Ahu Tahai. Brian lingered longer than normal, enjoying every last moment of the beautiful sky…and then he turned to face me and quietly asked me to marry him.
The stuff dreams are made of…..