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2010 EasterIsland
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Stories: Conclusion: Amazing EnduranceX!
Nov 14 - Landed || Nov 16 - Land of Horses and Moai! || A special place
Rapa Nui - the land and the people

Photo Galleries by Steph Teeter


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Gallery VIX

Polo!

Ride Day

    Amazing EnduranceX!
    An endurance ride on Easter Island?? Leave it to EnduranceX to not only imagine doing this, but actually pull it together! And wait, while he's at it - how about organizing the first Polo game on the island?? Luis Enrique Opazo Baltra, or Guyo as his friends call him, seems to have no limit to imagination, adventure and enthusiasm, and he has an amazing ability to share his wacky ideas with enough friends and sponsors to actually pull things off. His energy and spirit and love for adventure and horses is infectious.

    Luis is retired from the Chilean military service - as a commandant, he led expeditions across Chile and other south American countries. He was equally capable on horseback, on motorbike, or as the commander of tank maneuvers. He has led numerous mounted expeditions into the Andes mountain range. And he has done almost everything a person can do with horses including jumping and professional polo. If I were to pick a handful of people that most embody the spirit of our sport - Luis would be one of them. He retired from the military ten years ago - and his vision for the next phase of his life was EnduranceX - a program, a business, an obsession - to organize endurance rides in the most spectacular and extreme places that can Chile had to offer. Patagonia - Torres del Paine, Tierra del Fuego, Atacama - the driest desert in the world with stunning scenery and unexpected wildlife. And why not Easter Island!?
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    The Island Horses
    One of the most amazing things about this place is all of the horses! They are everywhere, on every part of the island. The horses were introduced in the early 1900's, and most accounts say there are currently around 1000 horses roaming the island. They roam through town, munching on the grass along the roads, wandering through people's yards, grazing on the grass in front of the church. Wandering at leisure through the archeological sites, scratching their hides on the ancient moai statues. I've never seen anything like it!
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    The land and the people
    To me the island is not an image that repeats itself every second. Each place has an image that changes every second... now we are here and it looks like this, in a half hour it will look different. There is a game between the clouds and the sun and the winds and the rains that are always changing - and that is what attracts me to loving this island so much.
    Mike Rapu
    Rapa Nui, Easter Island, Isle de Pascua... the Navel of the World. The first impression I had of the island was of the light - the sensation that the sun was shining through the air, not just lighting the landscape, but lighting the air and the sky as well. It's a fairly barren piece of land - a little bump of volcanic rock and ash that began forming 3 million years ago - exposed to the elements, the wind, rain, sun, sea, shaped by the scarce plant and animal life that found its way there by air or by sea. And further shaped by the presence of humans since the first Polynesians landed on the shores sometime around the 700's.

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    This is a very special place. The newness and awe have worn off a little, but I'm still enchanted by it. From everything I've seen and read and heard, this place is just now being discovered by tourists. It still feels very natural - the way it has been for decades. (tho as recently as 1960's the people were forced to live in a barbed wire enclosure and the "Easter Island Exploitation Company" - a Scottish/Chilean nitrate and sheep farming company, used the island as one big sheep pasture. The people were basically rounded up and confined to the area around Hauna Roa (the town/port) for several generations. The older islanders still talk about that time - where the sheep could come and go, but they couldn't. There's a fair amount of resentment by the natives. understandably. )
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    Please don't step on Moai
    (horses and dogs and moai by the sea)


    A little stable ride We took some of the local horses out this morning - with a guide (riding in flip-flops with reggae music coming out of his backpack - this place is amazing!). The horses were 'rental' horses, a little beat up and not too interested in their work. It was still fun to get out a bit. The horses munched on guava, growing on scrubby bushes along the trail. The guide rounded up a couple geldings and brought them back to the stable. I asked him why he was herding the two horses in - 'they are mine. I had lost them'.


    And such is the state of horses on Easter Island! Yesterday S/D and I drove around the island checking out the herds. LOTS of horses, in various states of health, one foal-less mare (still dragging placenta), and one motherless foal- just a few days old, seemed pretty abandoned. But what to do!? Nobody in sight, just life a la nature I guess.
    November 16, Land of Horses and Moai! I'm pretty well settled in here, Easter Island is very very special. Safe (no crime), friendly, beautiful, the weather is pretty much perfect - in the 70's during the day - sun/clouds - can be hot in the direct sun, tshirt weather, maybe a vest or sweatshirt. And in the 50's and 60's at night - sweater in the early morning and evening, great sleeping. They don't need air conditioners or heaters here.I landed at a sweet little hotel - Hotel Uka - or 'Martin & Anita's' if you ask a local. Not too fancy, but pleasant and clean and very friendly. I'm renting a car from them - they also have bikes, scooters, whatever. Business on the island is very laid back - still not much in the way of paperwork, contract, etc. Lots of dealings by talk, by friendship. Pleasantly innocent feeling.

    The locals, the Rapa Nui, are very distinctive. Tall in stature, the youth seem very athletic. Smiling, laid back, no worries. There are tourists - but nothing overwhelming. The island seems to absorb them easily. Most of the touring I've done I've been alone at the most incredible places - are maybe a couple other people coming through. Very spiritual here. The moai (statues) are unfathomable - huge, beautiful - and endearing! They feel more like friendly guardians than threatening guards. I'll try to write more about them when I get a chance - the how/why/when - some of which is purely theoretical (still un-answered questions) - some history they (anthropoligists, archaeologists) feel pretty certain about.

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    November 14 - I've landed!
    Well, that was a really really long trip from Malaysia to Easter Island. It would have been shorter to go east across the Soutn China Sea, to the Pacific, but I had to go back west to pick up the LAN flight from Santiago. Around 40 hours total air time... plus connections. Three days of travel. I had decent flights, aisle or exit row seats, the worst part was the TWO HOURS it took me to get in and out of LAX airport. long long lines at passport, customs, security. pretty nasty. But the flights were fine - I watched a lot of movies (Robert Duvall is great in Get Low), read a good book - House Rules (family with autistic boy trapped in murder/legal intrigue).

    And today Sunday November 14 (I had to ask!) I landed on Easter Island, Isle de Pascua, Rapa Nui, El Ombligo del Mundo (the bellybutton of the world), the western most island of Polynesia. OMG I haven't been this excited on landing in a new place in a long time. This little island, population around 4000 I think, is the most geographically isolated, remotest place in the world. I watched a nice video on the plane, giving a taste of the history, culture, etc. The native population went from several thousand at its peak to only 111 individuals.

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    Endurance.Net (Steph Teeter) will be traveling to Rapa Nui to cover this EnduranceX event, thanks in part to the sponsorship of LAN Airlines.

    November 19 - 22 2010:
    Rapa Nui (Easter Island), in the Pacific Ocean - the most isolated inhabited island of the planet and one of the most mysterious cultures of the world, capable of erecting colossal statues and developing it's own petrogliphs and writing system. The endurance riding circuits go through ancient ruins of villages, and the misterious statues, called moais, watch over the riders with majesty while they cross green hilloocks and slopes. Rapa Nui, more than a geografic location to be visited, it is a feeling to experience.


    Endurancex invites you to enjoy an unforgettable experience in one of the most mystical and enigmatic places on Earth. Easter Island or Rapa Nui as known by the natives with a history dating back nearly fifteen centuries since first occupied by man. In the last century the first navigators brought horses to the island and the natives incorporated them for daily use. Today the islands horses will compete in an Endurance Ride. This first equestrian championship of Endurance riders will compete through the ancestral fields only a few meters from the great “Ahu Tahai” giving the island one of the most amazing sunsets. Riders will see and feel the mystical and magical sculptures called MOAI. Officials organizing this event along with the warmth of the Rapa Nui people Endurancex welcomes competitors and visitors for the November 19-22, 2010 event from around the world. The island is in the center of the South Pacific, a 4 hour flight with Lan Airlines from Santiago de Chile. - www.endurancex.com

    DIA 01 - November 19, 2010
    • Transfer from Mata Veri Airport on Easter Island.
    • Mini-van transport from Airport to Hotel Hangaro
    Eco Village & Spa - Check in and reception.
    • 21:00 hrs. Welcome Dinner.
    DIA 02 - November 20, 2010
    • 07:30 hrs. Breakfast in the hotel.
    • 08:30 hrs. Begin half-day or full-day excursions.
    • 16:00 hrs. Start of the Test Match Polo.
    • 20:00 hrs. Ride meeting for paid Endurance Riders.
    Assignment of horses.
    • 21:00 hrs. Dinner at the hotel.
    DIA 03 - November 21, 2010
    • 07:30 hrs. Breakfast in the hotel.
    • 09:00 hrs. Endurance Race begins (Paid participants)
    • 09:15 hrs. Half-day or Full-day excursions
    DIA 04 - November 22, 2010
    • 07:30 hrs. Breakfast in the hotel.
    • 10:00 hrs. Check out of hotel.
    • 12:00 hrs. Transfer to the Airport.