When in Viña del Mar ..... see an Easter Island moai

The town of Viña del Mar was founded in 1874 as a weekend retreat for the wealthy residents from Valparaíso and Santiago. Today it is Chile's premiere seaside resort. You can still see many of the charming old colonial houses and even castles dotted around town. We had lunch in one of the original castles and the seafood was plentiful and delicious. A Chilean girl sitting close to me on the airplane on the way to South America recommended “Machas a la parmesana” (mussels with parmesan) if I find myself in town and I gave it a try with some Chilean white wine from the Casablanca valley. Believe me, the combination of the meal and the setting created a memory that will last a long time!

At the Reñaca Beach in Viña, I had the chance to dip my toes into the Pacific Ocean, a first for me. Although everyone around me yelped at how cold it was, I thought the Cape West Coast might have one up on them :-)!

Notwithstanding all of this, for me the highlight of the day - by far - was seeing the original moai from Easter Island. The island, also known as Rapa Nui, is one of the world's most isolated inhabited islands and lies 3,510 km west of continental Chile (you can read more about the interesting history here and here). It is most famous for the monolithic gigantic statues, called moai, that the locals made from solidified volcanic ash. The largest moai ever raised on a platform weighs 82 tons and is almost 10m high. Even today the mystery of how the locals transported over 890 statutes to their locations all over the island remains, because today the island is almost completely treeless.

According to our guide for the day, only 3 original moais can be found outside of Easter Island and the Makaihi Moai of Ahu One is one of them, standing guard outside the Museo de Arqueología e Historia Francisco Fonck. I was instantly mesmerised - Easter Island is now on my bucket list!

Image credits: By me, except the one by the tour guide :-)

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