After New Zealand we sailed eastwards back across the Pacific. The first Island we visited was Rapa-Iti, a remote little island which had never been visited by a cruise ship before. Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian explorer had visited there after his expedition to Easter Island. He wrote of the pyramids and terraces, built by an ancient long forgotten people, and now covered with vegetation.

The next port of call was Pitcairn Island where the mutineers from the Bounty settled. This rises out of the sea, a huge rocky eminence, a thousand miles from its nearest neighbour. The mutineers and their families created their own little world where their descendents still lived a simple life, which had changed little over the centuries, though I suppose now, in the twenty-first century, they will have airports and more communication with the outside world than they did when we visited. One of their “exports” was the collection of beautiful postage stamps. It was too difficult for us to land there so the islanders came out in their flat bottomed boats and came on board where they did a good trade in souvenirs, though I think if all the splinters of wood reputedly from the Bounty were genuine, it must have been a mighty big boat.:)

The last island we visited was the fascinating Easter Island with its giant stone statues, carved out of volcanic rock, which stand guard on the shore.

We were taken ashore by ship’s tender. Once ashore we had the choice of riding in jeeps over the bumpy roads or horse riding. I had done little horse riding so opted for the jeep at first, but the roads were so rough that we decided to risk horse riding.

We had been forewarned by the crew members who had visited before that the islanders would rather barter goods than money so had gone armed with soap, toiletries, fresh fruit etc. We had also taken our cash in single dollar notes, as they held up their fingers and if they said 5 they wanted five pieces, whether they were single dollar bills or 5 dollar bills!

I got a very docile horse which needed encouragement even to move and I was urging it along when my Scottish musician friend raced past me. I was lost in admiration as I watched him thundering over the rough ground and disappear into the distance.

S. and I rode on more sedately, visited the main site of the statues, took the obligatory photographs and started back for the ship. On the way one of the islanders had put out a sign inviting crew members to call in for refreshments.

The owner, the wife of a Chilean naval officer, made us very welcome and gave us lovely cold drinks. It was there we met up with my musician friend and discovered that he was not an expert rider, the horse had suddenly decided that it wanted to go home and would not stop until it reached home, and then decided to move no further! He stayed on more by luck than skill.:)

On the way back to the boat we met someone selling skirts made of hen feathers. They were like grass skirts but instead of grasses they had feathers threaded onto strings. I thought one would make a good souvenir but unfortunately we had given all our remaining bartering bits to the Chilean lady to thank her for her hospitality. Not wishing to miss a “sale” the seller tugged at my skirt and indicated that he would accept that in exchange. I was sorely tempted, but both S. and B. refused to walk back with me dressed in a feather skirt, so I had to decline the offer.

 Easter Island was the last of these wonderful lands we visited and we cruised on eastward towards South America via the Juan Fernandez Islands. The chief of these islands is Mas-a-Tierra, the island where Alexander Selkirk was marooned in 1704 and was the inspiration for Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe.

 We were now only 360 miles from the coast of South America.

Advertisements