After Jon’s last blog post I figured all of us might need to take a break from cancer and the dark side of my disease. We write what we are feeling at the time, so although everything he wrote is true, right now I am feeling fine and almost like my normal self, aside from all the side effects from radiation and steroids. The fatigue comes in waves, but it is manageable. I am not dying right now (knock on some wood very loudly), but I do need to be flexible, since I will have no idea if the treatment is working until September. I may have to have some surgery or more treatment, or I may find out that the treatment worked. Then I can make some decisions. All I know right now is that I need to eat healthily, do my research about cancer survival, and rest and recuperate to give my body the best chance of beating this, since the side effects will last for another two months.
I am also glad that Jon was so honest about his feelings in the last blog because writing is great therapy for us. Both of us feel so much better when we put our thoughts down on paper and we no longer have to think about them so much. At this time I need to take some time off from cancer because I feel pretty good about life right now, despite all the hardships. It helps me to feel positive and optimistic and more like my normal self when I don’t dwell on the realities of my situation. During our week of teacher in-service, I have gone back twice to school for meetings and professional development, and although they have been long days, I am very happy to have retained a sense of normalcy during this time. Escapism: isn’t it great?!
On another note, Jon and I have finished editing the Easter Island pictures. I must confess it was a little difficult to travel to such a remote island with floating head syndrome, ear ringing, extreme fatigue, headscarves, lots of pills, and my wig, but it is what I love to do, so with my mom and Jon looking after me we managed to pack suitcases, get on a plane, and make some great memories. We have lots of beautiful pictures of both trips since both Jon and my mom are fabulous photographers, so I’d like to share some of them along with a few stories of our travels. I’ll start first with our favorites of Easter Island and hopefully just a few of the many pics of moai statues: hope you enjoy! If you don’t know what a moai is and you want to know more, click here: more info about moai
Our favorite place: The rock quarry at Rano Raraku
We went to this place three times because we liked it so much AND we didn’t have to pay the Conaf fee of 60 USD that normally provides entrance to both of the Chilean national park sites. Usually that fee allows you to visit each site only once. The Rapa Nui have recently taken over all of the Chilean sites and are running them themselves, with no fees. Lucky us! The first time we visited with our guide, Paul. We had to avoid a large school group from Santiago that was visiting at the same time so we first visited the volcano crater while they went right and visited the statues. My energy was pretty low that day so I just sat in quiet contemplation looking at the lake water in the crater while Jon and mom took pictures of the moai statues. On the second visit, we went by ourselves and got caught in a torrential downpour. Both mom and Jon had panchos to cover their camera equipment, so they stayed out in the storm. Luckily I was able to run back to the car before I got completely soaked, because I, sadly, had not brought my rain gear from the jeep. After the brief rain storm, the three of us ventured around the complex to see the many rock faces, in the very green, wet grass, and muddy paths. It is incredible that all of the statues were carved here and then moved to their various locations so long ago when there was no form of transportation. There are many theories for how the statues waddled down the side of the crater to their current resting places, but our guide, Paul subscribes to the theory that the rocks were rocked side to side on their feet to the various resting sights.
Anakena Beach and the North Shore
On day two of our trip to Easter Island we headed to a beautiful beach on the North Shore. Despite being surrounded by coastline, the island only has two sandy beaches, the main one being Anakena Beach. I was unprepared for the gorgeousness of this location: palm trees, sand, crystal blue weather, horses, roosters, and historical moai statues to boot. We had gorgeous weather there (mid 80’s and sunny) and the beach was almost to ourselves. It was like a speck of tropical paradise, just for us. I would go back to Easter Island just to relax on this beach. Spectacular!
The colors of sunrise/sunset at Ahu Tahai
One of the things that is so magical about Easter Island is that because it is in the middle of nowhere, the colors of the sky are so intense. This ahu structure known as Ahu Tahai, near where we stayed, is known for its mesmerizing sunsets, so many people sit on the grassy hill in front of these structures and watch the sun fall into the ocean, spreading pink hues across the clouds. Our guide, also the owner of our lodge, helped restore this Ahu back in 1968 when he was 16. Our guide, Paul, was recommended by our friends, the Flanagans, who told the most amazing stories about the island. He made the trip very memorable for us.
Wandering Around the Town of Hanga Roa
There are very few inhabitants of Easter Island (about 5,700) and only one main town. However, we really enjoyed walking around the coast line with its colorful boats, fun places to eat and shop, moai statues, both ancient and modern, tropical trees and flowers, wild dogs, parks, and unique church.
The Coast of the Island and other random Moai:
During our five days there, we managed to see just about every fallen moai statue on the island. The following pictures are from our multiple trips to the Southern and Northern Coast. We rented a jeep from Paul for a few days and had him as our guide for the others so he could tell us more about these fascinating structures that lie along the coastline, along with various boathouses and petroglyphs in the rocks. Not a lot is known about the moai for certain but we really enjoyed hearing the theories of how and why they got there from one of the archeologists himself. Good thing Jon is interested in history also!
Rapa Nui Food and Culture:
One of the things we most enjoyed about Easter Island was the distinct culture that exists there. We loved all the Polynesian influences including the food and the dancing. One night we went to the Kari Kari show which displayed beautiful hula dancing and extremely attractive men that were half dressed. I really enjoy the show because it was similar to Hawaiian culture and I gained an affinity for Hawaii during high school and college. My first boyfriend was Hawaiian and his family taught me how to do a traditional hula dance that my teacher tells me I also did during my “How To” speech during senior year. (I have blocked this out, but Ms. Wiley will swear to you that I danced in front of the class in my swimsuit…there might be video proof as well…) In addition, a good friend of mine in college is from Hawaii and got married on the Big Island so my California friends went to her wedding and had an amazing time “taking the plunge” aka jumping into the ocean from rocks 40 feet high in the southern most location in the United States. I also have some great memories from the time Grandma Doft took me, Ali, and our cousin Kate to Oahu and Maui. Good times! Easter Island wasn’t quite like those experiences, but it was fun to drink tropical fruit juices and eat delicious seafood dishes cooked in coconut milk, all the while watching this ancient and unique culture exist all around us.
Orongo, Ranu Kau Crater, and Ahu Akivi:
These sites are must sees on the island, but were not our favorite, maybe because the other locations were so spectacular. Orongo is the site of the ceremonial village and the really impressive volcanic crater, just outside of the town of Hanga Roa. We walked along the edge of Ranu Kau crater and gazed into its depths, which was quite spectacular. We then walked to where Paul met us outside of Orongo, but I didn’t feel quite as informed about what took place there as I did at some of the other sites. The bird ceremony is quite famous and displayed on many souvenirs, but I must have tuned out and actually missed the petroglyphs that depicted the ceremony. Oops! Ahu Akivi is an inland set of seven moai, the only ones on the island that face the sea. Very neat.
Alright, that’s it for now! You’ve made it to the end:-) I am going to edit the Salvador pictures now. This took much longer than I thought it would and I left out so many pictures!!