Aku-Aku Eclipse

Easter Island

July 11th, 2010

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Cliffs and Caves

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2010-07-08 23:21 UTC Click images for enlargements.

A walk along the coast allows exploring a variety of unrestored sites. This is a “boat house”: not a house for a boat, but rather the stone foundation of a house in the shape of a boat, upon which poles and a leaf roof would be erected. (You can see the holes bored in the stones where the poles were placed if you look closely.) These houses were used only for shelter from the elements whilst sleeping, and consequently they are remarkably cosy by present-day standards.

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2010-07-08 23:24 UTC

The high winds which frequently scour the island require protection for vulnerable food plants, so circular stone “gardens” would be constructed to shelter crops. Grazing horses, which roam freely in the area, are visible in the background.

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2010-07-08 23:25 UTC

This, believe it or not, is a chicken coop. No, really! It is not a hollow structure—chickens would simply squeeze themselves into cracks between the rocks to escape the weather. Because of their robust structure, these are some of the easiest to identify evidence of settlements on the island.

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2010-07-08 23:28 UTC

Here's the chicken coop from the top.

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2010-07-08 23:30 UTC

Most boat houses were quite small, but this, the “king's house” was extravagantly large with multiple entrances. Note the holes bored in the rock foundation to support the poles holding up the roof.

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2010-07-08 23:35 UTC

There are a number of ruined moai platforms along the coast, These were destroyed in the cataclysmic warfare in which the moai were toppled. Here are the head of a moai and its topknot which lie today where they fell centuries ago.

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2010-07-08 23:39 UTC

This is the back—ocean side—of a destroyed ahu (moai platform). The moai have been toppled but the platform is reasonably intact.

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2010-07-08 23:40 UTC

Toppled moai on the other side of the platform.

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2010-07-08 23:40 UTC

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2010-07-08 23:43 UTC

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2010-07-08 23:43 UTC

Looking closer at the Ahu, we discern that the head of a moai from an earlier generation has been recycled into the platform for this village.

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2010-07-08 23:46 UTC

A frigate bird flies by. There are relatively few seabirds on the island because it is so remote from other land.

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2010-07-08 23:50 UTC

The coastline is forbidding to those approaching from the sea, but beautiful.

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2010-07-08 23:59 UTC

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2010-07-09 00:08 UTC

Lava tubes create a network of caves throughout the island. These caves were used for shelter, fortifications, and habitation by the residents. Here is the entrance to one such cave.

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2010-07-09 00:47 UTC

The advantage of touring with a “certified Local Guide” is that when he or she says “We're all going to die!”, you know they're right.

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2010-07-09 00:09 UTC

Down the rabbit hole.

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2010-07-09 00:10 UTC

Interesting stuff down there….

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2010-07-09 00:15 UTC

These lava tubes can go on for hundreds of metres underground and pop out in the most amazing places.

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2010-07-10 23:52 UTC

Further along the coast (and after a cloudburst, as you can see), we came along this rock, larger than a watermelon, which is said to have been some kind of musical instrument—a stone age vuvuzela, if you like. We blew and blew and blew, but couldn't get anything out of it but a wheeze. But then I never got all that much out of a saxophone!

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2010-07-09 00:34 UTC

Watching the surf cascade off of the offshore islands (motu) is endlessly fascinating. These islands are visible from a lava tube extending from a cave we visited which ends in the cliff overlooking the islands.

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2010-07-09 00:39 UTC

by John Walker
July 20th, 2010
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This document is in the public domain.