Feature Friday [Easter Edition]: Meet Sara R.

Easter Island has always seemed so mysterious…at least to me. Come learn more about this incredible island as Sara shares her adventures!

In honor of Easter weekend, I wanted to dedicate a post to Easter! What better than learning more about Easter Island? This island continues to be a mystery to many. Discovered on Easter day, {hence the name}, the island houses the many large figurehead statues as is famously known. There’s so much more to this island than meets the eye. Today we have Sara here with us to delve into some of the island’s mysteries! 

1. Thank you for participating in Feature Friday! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
IMG_4708My name is Sara Roccisano, creator of Embolden Adventures, a travel content site and podcast show. I am a passionate, world-traveling, scuba-diving, wanderlusting, former-Wall Streeter, New Yorker. I love to travel, I love to explore, I love to discover, and I love to learn. I have been embarking on adventures around the depths of the oceans to the heights of the mountains and beyond.

2. What country do you call home?
I was born and raised in the United States. I live in New York City now.

3. Which city{s}/country{s} did you recently travel to?
In 2017 so far, I traveled to England where I visited the ancient stone ruins of Stonehenge [http://www.emboldenadventures.com/mysterious-stonehenge] and to Scotland. I am heading to Tanzania in Africa this September to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, then for a safari in the Serengeti at the base of the mountain, and lastly to scuba dive in Zanzibar. Follow along in the adventure to the top here: http://www.emboldenadventures.com/embolden-adventures-kilimanjaro/.

In September 2016, I traveled to Easter Island, the most remote, inhabited place in the world and home to the mysterious stone moai statues. Easter Island is also known as the Polynesian island of Rapa Nui, although it is part of the country of Chile in South America.

The island is located in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean in the Southern Hemisphere as far south as Santiago, Chile. Easter Island’s closest neighbor is mainland Chile located 2180 miles to the east followed by Tahiti located 2650 miles northwest of Easter Island. Easter Island makes up the southeastern point of the Polynesian Triangle. New Zealand is the southwestern point and Hawaii is the northern point of the triangle.

4. How long was your journey?Easter Island 200
We spent a total of 9 days on this trip: 5 days in Easter Island in between our time spent in Santiago Chile. We flew from overnight from New York City to Santiago on the red eye. Because we did not have enough time to catch that morning flight out to Easter Island, we stayed 24 hours in Santiago Chile. Then we took the flight to Easter Island the next day. The same goes on the way home. We would just miss the flight back to the United States, so we stayed a day in Santiago on the back end until the following day.

5. Why did you travel to Easter Island?
I do not know why Easter Island attracted me. This attraction is the same unknown that has pushed me to the remote, mysterious Stonehenge. It pushed me to ancient Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, hidden away in the Andes Mountains of Peru. It pushed me to experience a sacred energy Hawaiians call “mana” that emanates from Hawaii’s volcanoes. And it even pushed me to experience the energy vortexes of Sedona Arizona and to climb to the top of the venerated Mt Fuji in Japan.

My world travels, scuba diving, yoga, and meditation were my ways of healing. Burnout from my old Wall Street way of life was my truth for too long. By immersing myself in nature through adventures, my sustained uneasiness began to evaporate. My pent up toxicities dissipated.

I can go on about the many adventures around the world, both above water and 113_4864underwater. However, the conclusion remains the same: The energetic power of these mystical, ancient places such as Easter Island has brought me a deep sense of calm.

Easter Island is a place where the mysterious stone moai statues hold on tight to their secrets past; A place where the ancient Rapa Nui civilization flourished and then nearly disappeared.

The island is uniquely known to the world because the moai. The moai are monolithic structures.  Each are carved out of a single volcanic stone made into the shape of a human with large, broad noses, long ears, big lips and eyes, and pronounced chins.  The moai are thought to be a symbol of reverence to spiritual leaders or chiefs on the island although no one knows for sure about the intent of these structures.

Two styles of moai are on the island: The ones that have full bodies without legs that stand tall and the ones with just a large head protruding from the hillside. The eyes once were filled with white coral and black obsidian rock to create an eyeball effect.

The moai average about 13 feet tall and weigh about 14 tons, but one has been found toppled over at 30 feet and 80 tons.  Another unfinished moai at the quarry is about 70 feet in length and weighs 270 tons.  

Some moai wear red volcanic stone hats called “pukao” that are cylindrical in shape, and some moai are perched up on stone platforms called “ahu”. Almost all of the moai were placed along the shores of the island with their tattooed backs facing the sea.

I wanted to find out all about this enigmatic place and, of course, go scuba diving while I was at it. So I booked this trip and dragged my brother and his girlfriend along for the ride!

6. What native dish was your favorite to eat?
I enjoyed eating the seafood empanadas and drinking a cold, local beer near the stone moai on the Anakena Beach. This beach, as legend has it, is where the first Rapanui king Hotu Matu’a arrived to the island with the queen Vakai after completing his trek across the ocean from Polynesia in a canoe.  It was the first time humans may have set foot onto the island. The beach resembles a Polynesian island compared to the rest of the island that is more of a rugged, hilly, grassland terrain similar to perhaps to upstate New York. It has white coral sand and palm trees.  The reason why this part of the island has palm trees is because they were given by Tahiti as a gift.  At the beach, you can swim and kayak in the roped off area. The water is very cold despite its turquoise appearance.

7. What was the most unique thing you ate?
The food is similar cuisine to mainland Chile. Unfortunately, the island is dependent on Chile for its food and other resources.  The island is heavily over-fished due to illegal trawlers in the international waters.  However the Chilean government announced, in connection with the 2015 Oceans Conference, that they would establish the third largest marine sanctuary in the world around Easter Island to protect the underwater ecosystem. This announcement was made just as we were there scuba diving!

In between our dives, we had lunch at a local empanada shack near the elementary school. At the table we saw our new friend Lalo Garza who was on the moai tour with us on the first two days. While the food was not unique, the experience was! He is the voice of Mexican Elmo of Sesame Street and does other cartoon voice work in Latin America. We had lunch together and heard all about his career and even got to hear some examples of Elmo speaking.

8. What was your most unique mode of transportation?DIGITAL CAMERA
My brother and I explored the waters of Easter Island by scuba diving, so the most unique mode of transportation was using our fins!  Also one day we rode horses up to the Terevaka volcano, the highest point of the island at over 1600 feet above sea level.  

The horseback ride was just awesome. We trekked up the rolling hills of farmland, passing barking dogs, grazing cows, and of course more ancient stone moai statues. The terrain reminded me a bit of the farmlands in Finger Lakes area of New York. I felt like I was an explorer from yesteryear riding a horse surveying an unknown land. 

113_4830Interestingly enough, our horseback tour guide is a professional competitive surfer, an activity quite popular on Easter Island.

The ride round-trip took about 3 hours or so, but it was worth the trip. From this point, we had the best 360-degree views of the entire Easter Island and as far as we could see out to the vast Pacific Ocean.  It dawn on me how isolated we were in the world at this moment. I tried to look out towards the south thinking that Antarctica was not much farther away from where I was standing. The sun shone brightly and reflected beautifully off the ocean. I commemorated this experience with a yoga headstand atop the volcano.

9. What was the weather like during your trip?
Because of its location so far south in the Southern Hemisphere close to Antarctica, the weather tends to be cold for a typical Polynesian island. Winds were strong by the Rano Kau volcanic crater near the southern tip of the island. We hiked on the pathway along the crater while enduring the heavy, unrelenting, frigid winds coming from the south. The only thing separating this point and Antarctica is the Pacific Ocean ahead of us. Most times though, we had partly cloudy days and mild temperatures. We did experience one night of a short spurt of torrential rains. Luckily we were indoors watching a cultural show at the time.

10. Where was your favorite place to go in Easter Island? Why?
The entire island was a favorite place. Easter Island is a single island made up of three dormant volcanoes and lots of rolling hills. The island is about 15 miles wide and 8 miles long and can be circumnavigated by car in a day. About 887 moai statues have been found throughout the island in clusters.  Almost all of them were toppled over as a result of infighting on the island, according to historians.  Most are still not repaired and re-erected.  

11. What was the funniest thing that happened to you on this trip?113_4691
We had fun watching a highly animated Kari Kari cultural warrior dancer on stage. Then we just happen to see him dressed in plain clothes, boarding our plane back to Santiago Chile the following day!  Also, the stray dogs around town are funny too. They have such personality and sass strutting around town and around the moai statues.

12. What was the best part about your trip?
Pretty much everything. Touring the moai statues as if we were on a National Geographic tour; Going scuba diving and posing for a photo underwater with a moai; Having lunch with Mexican Elmo hearing a sampling of his voice while we eat empanadas; Riding horseback, passing the moai statues, up to the highest point on the island; Seeing wild horses run through the grasslands; Meeting the granddaughter of the last Rapa Nui king; and so much more.

13. What was the most challenging part about your trip?
Nothing really other than the international flights to and from Santiago did not line up with the daily flight to Easter Island – therefore we had more than a 24 hour layover each way.

14. What is the favorite picture you took during your trip?
Me standing along side the line of ancient moai and the moai with the flowers.

15. How does this Easter Island compare to New York City? Were your expectations met, or did they differ completely?
Well, Easter Island and New York City are vastly different, obviously! 😉 One is a remote island far from the world and the other is an island in the center of the world!  I very much enjoyed the adventure, as it was an Embolden Adventure!

16. If you were to go to Easter Island again, what would you do differently?
Nothing really. We planned a great trip that had just the right amount of a variety of activities in the day and evening combined with some relaxation.  I would have liked to spend some more time scuba diving however. Just weeks earlier the dive shop said they spotted a fin whale, a rare sighting for the area!

17. Do you have any more travel plans lined up? Where to next?
I am heading to Tanzania to hike Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest freestanding mountain and the fourth most prominent mountain on Earth.  Read about my adventure here: http://www.emboldenadventures.com/embolden-adventures-kilimanjaro/#.WO-11FMrKCQ

18. Anything else you want to share about your trip to Easter Island?
Read my post about spending 5 days around the island here: http://www.emboldenadventures.com/easter-island/#.WO-di1MrKCQ 

Thank you, Sara for being a part of Feature Friday; especially this special edition dedicated to Easter Weekend! Hopefully one day I’ll have the pleasure of visiting Easter Island for myself. It sounds like an amazing adventure just waiting to happen!

Did you like what you read? If you’d like to learn more about Sara and her adventures, check her out at the following:

About Me imageBlog: www.EmboldenAdventures.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/EmboldenAdventures
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/emboldenAdventr
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emboldenadventures/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/emboldenadventures

Follow along on the adventure!

0 thoughts on “Feature Friday [Easter Edition]: Meet Sara R.”

  1. I’ve always wanted to go to Easter Island! I’ve seen a lot of travel shows and documentaries about it and it’s always fascinated me. I love how it’s so remote and mysterious. I’ve also been to Stonehedge and I love it, such a cool place. Pompeii is another fascinating historical place.

    1. Ah Pompeii. Another trip that needs to be added to my list! Definitely need to do some research beforehand though. If you’ve already been, I’d love to hear about your trip, if you’re willing to share!

      1. I studied abroad in Italy for a month in college. We took a day trip to Naples and Pompeii. I only spent a day there but it’s one of my favorite places I’ve visited. It’s so unique and has such a fascinating (although depressing) history. We also ate at the most delicious local Italian restaurant there. I wish I could remember the name, although it’s not hard to find amazing Italian food when you’re in Italy! 😉

  2. Very cool interview and info, I honestly hadn’t really heard a lot about Easter Island before, but it sounds amazing! thanks!

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