Day 65 - Coral and Birdmen

Trip Start Sep 30, 2012
1
69
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Trip End Jan 09, 2013


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Flag of Chile  , Valparaíso,
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Orongo
Another great opportunity to dive and one we decided not to miss. We headed down to the small harbour close to town at around 0900 after a quick breakie at the hotel. Our dive was with Orca Diving, which is owned and run by a dive companion of famous diver Jacques Casteu (I am sure the spelling of this is wrong. Please comment the correct one), and founded Orca Diving on Easter Island after expedition with him here. I think his name is Herni Garcia.
He is also broke the record for the highest altitude dive in 1995 in northern Chile. Apparently and impressively he flew down the mountain afterward on a delta wing - very adventurous.
Our dive guide was Kata, it was just the two of us on the boat, and it was only a 3 minute ride to the dive site. Very easy access and chilled diving.

The reef was very different to what we have see before. Apparently the water temperature is on the border of the temperature at which coral grows - 23'c. So there is not much variety, but the reef is beautiful and looks healthy.
They have sunk a Moai (fabricated) as an attraction which was fun to see. There were also old 19th century anchors to see.

The fish live was not abundant like the barrier reef but the fish were different and there was a fair amount. We saw an interesting eel still to be identified. Saw two turtles and tickled ones neck - very cool. A very different and enjoyable dive.

We thought about another dive, but we were rather cold and Anton had some issues with his ear, so we went back to our cabin and relaxed until 1500 when we met our guide (Mattheus) to show us the island.

Our half day tour today focused on the bird man culture of the island. After the the fall of the Moai culture, and the ensuing violence from ecological devastation on the island, the 12 clans agreed to stop fighting and follow a new way. This entailed each clan sending their fittest warrior to compete against the other 11 clans in the bird man competition, where they had to out maneuver, physically and mentally, to retrieve the first egg of the Sooty Turn bird - which migrated to a little island off the main island each year around September when this competition was held. The warrior had to declare he had the egg and then make his way back to the island without it breaking to win the competition. The little island where the eggs are found is extremely difficult to get to, with high cliffs and no resources to keep you alive. So the challenge was not simple and could last over a month.
If you managed to get the egg back to the chiefs, living in the ceremonial village overlooking the little island - where we were taken around by the guide - the egg was analyzed to ensure its authenticity. If cleared your clan chief would become he Island ruler for the year for all clans, until the next years competition found a new ruler. A very interesting culture.
The ceremonial town was called Orongo, and was apparently like an orgy over the period of the competition with only the most important people on the island allow there - it was a big party. The town is on the side of one of the three volcanoes which created the island. We got on very well with Matteus, he has been a very knowledgable and fun guide to experience the island with.

At 2000 we headed to the best sunset spot on the Island. It was very beautiful with the sunset behind a number of Moai. We did sit for a while as the sun only went down at 2100ish. It was rather popular with quite a gathering.

For dinner we headed to a restaurant recommended by Mattheus in town. Anton tried the Civeche, raw fish (his was Tuna) cut up and marinated - very delicious.
Tess had the local fish with a mango salsa, also very yum.
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