Christmas On Easter

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Martin Hash
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Christmas On Easter

Post by Martin Hash » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:58 pm

It's a tradition in our family to have Christmas somewhere exotic but as the kids got older, they went off on their own Christmases: this year my oldest son went to Canada, my daughter went to Mexico, and my youngest son, Haven, lived in Peru with his family. Our empty nest motivated my wife, Gwynne, to send me a link to a cruise that went through the Panama Canal, ending in Santiago, Chile for Christmas. Normally, I look for a few moments then throw the message away but something about Santiago was tickling the back of my mind, then I remembered that's how to get to Easter Island, a place Gwynne had mentioned she wanted to go. “Christmas on Easter,” I thought; I liked the sound of that, plus we could visit our grandson, Felix, in Lima, on the way.

Easter Island is its given Western name when it was “discovered” on Easter 1722, though it was settled by Polynesians in 1200 AD. It's original name is Rapu Nui, and it's the third most remote places on earth, over 2000 kilometers from the nearest piece of land. The most common way to get there is a 5-hour flight from Santiago, Chile, 3500 kilometers away. Chile annexed the Island for inscrutable reasons, taking the inhabitants as slaves until only 111 remained in 1877. There are now almost 8000.

Turns out, my idea wasn’t that original; apparently everybody who can fit on two 787 Dreamliners wants to have Christmas on Easter too: Chinese, Germans, French, and lots of Spanish speakers. We'd only gave ourselves 4 days, enough to see the Big Heads; and as it turned out, Haven said he was going to meet us for Christmas on Easter too.

Big Heads.jpg
My Big Head imagination had been sparked when I was a kid; hasn't everybody's? Creating all those Big Heads, almost 1000, was a remarkable thing, and they were so mysterious. I wanted to see as many Big Heads as possible in our short stay. We started out in the morning, and I'd plotted a big loop around the Island's perimeter; lots of lots of Big Heads along the way. Gwynne was my enthusiastic companion for the first eight hours or so but then she started to poop out.
“We’ve stopped at every Big Head we’ve driven by; there’s still a hundred to go on just this road alone,” she mentioned.
“I thought you liked Big Heads?”
“I do but the last one was knocked down and terribly eroded, and so were the 10 before that,” Gwynne pointed out.
“What about the Big Head next to the polygonal wall?” I asked, still amped.
“We could have skipped just the nose.”
“What about the face looking into the sky?” I asked.
“That was twenty heads ago.”
“But the two before that were just lying alone in a cow pasture,” I countered.
“Do you need pictures of all of them?”
“I'm getting GPS coordinates too,” I defended myself.
“Wouldn't it be better to be more particular for your Google Earth fly-thru?”
“There’s a row of 8 next,” I tried to encourage her.
“We haven’t even got to the main tourist sites yet,” Gwynne said, anxiously.
“There's still plenty of time,” I reassured her.
“But they close at 5 pm.”
“We’ll make it.”



It was close; we only got into see the row of 15 Big Heads at Tongariki because we were wearing Santa hats and looked like gringos, but the last tourist stop was closed so we only got pictures from the parking lot. Luckily, there were plenty of random Big Heads to record before the battery on my phone gave out. It was dark when we drove back, and Gwynne was exhausted by all the Big Heading, but we had to wait up for Haven to get in. We picked him up at the Mataveri airport at 11 pm on Christmas Eve, and headed over to the Big Head that was visible from our porch at the hostal we were staying at. I took a picture of Haven holding Felix in front of it at 2 am on Christmas day. When we finally got back to our room, Haven asked Gwynne, conversationally.

Night-Time.jpg

“So how were the Big Heads?”
“I’ll let your father answer that,” Gwynne replied, exasperation in her voice.
Haven looked at me questionably.
I shrugged.
“I don’t know; you seen one big head, you’ve seen them all.”



p.s. There’s also a Christmas Island.
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