June 4, 2016 – Forget it, Kevin. It’s Rapa Nui.
Still no word from Skywalker or Solo. It’s an ominous phrase in The Empire Strikes Back, a featured extra line that resonates through the opening scenes of Hoth; her friends and our heroes are lost and Princess Leia feels the cold in so many ways.
That’s kinda how I’m feeling given the lack of communication from TravellingFit and Rodrigo the Rapa Nui race director. After a fitful, sleepless night that featured a throbbing pain right behind my left eye that I attribute to stress and growing frustrations, I wandered out to the lobby around 3 AM to write yet another email to Angela Everett of TravellingFit chronicling my frustrations. I really don’t think I’m unreasonable in my requests for accurate information, timely communication, and details on who I’m supposed to contact as ground staff while here.
As morning arrives and the sun rises, I snap a few Terrence Malick-ian shots of the flowers along our room’s patio.
Breakfast brings a lack of crème brule but a new hope for dessert as morning meal in the form of Bavarian cream puffs that are small, delicious, and addictive.
Rodrigo arrives and apologizes for the snafus and lack of communication. I voice my anger and frustration going so far as to tell him I understand he was out coordinating the triathlon yesterday but the last message I left was that regardless of the hour of his return I really needed to speak to him. He said he didn’t want to disturb me and I reiterated the message was that no matter how late he returned I really wanted to speak to him. His answer to the miscommunication over the opening ceremonies was that they rescheduled them due to a rain forecast on Friday and that the other group knew about it. I told him I wasn’t in the other group and he insisted he had told me but we clearly were having a breakdown in communication then, now, and perhaps always. But he told me that this was Easter Island and every problem has a solution. He told me they were doing another opening ceremony just for me and that he would get me tickets for tonight. I mentioned there were several of us from last night in the lobby who had the wrong information and he said he had spoken to those folks during the triathlon and they too would be at the opening ceremony. I’m not entirely sure how this is going to pan out but I appreciated an effort was being made to remedy the situation.
As an update, these are what the “official tickets” look like – stamps on a “While You Were Out” message slip:
I still haven’t heard from Angela and it’s 5:40 PM as I type this. There will be another email to her when all is said and done as I feel frankly completely abandoned by TravellingFit, a completely opposite feeling from my experiences with them during the Australian Outback Marathon.
Rodrigo and his wife also got me my race packet and shirt. The bib seems about as official as the tickets above – it looks to me like I’m running as a bandit. But we’ll see what develops as a result.
Afterwards, we wandered down to the mountain bike starting line to cheer on some of our fellow travelers. Here’s Mom photobombing them at the ready:
I was glad we were there as it was fun to see the countdown, the Chilean Bombaderos police force escort, the wild dogs who were afraid of the bikes and crouched near us for safety.
At 10 AM, they were off and so were we. We walked a ways out to another series of Moais and staged a few of my favorite pics from this trip with my tripod. It took a few takes but I really feel like we captured the fun and spirit of OUR Rapa Nui adventure. We aren’t going to let TravellingFit’s lack of planning and support ruin our experience. I think our adventure is well documented in these snapshots:
We strolled the main drag of souvenir shops to pick up a few things, including a $600 (Chilean peso) post card stamp. We were told to look at the post office for the letters to the Easter Bunny delivered to Easter Island and I’m really glad we went back to check them out.
We bumped into Jacqui on our way out and she asked how things were going. We mentioned we were getting our own opening ceremony and that apparently the ones we missed had been rescheduled due to rain. Jacqui found that a little odd as in all the years she’s been running the Marathon Tours trip on Rapa Nui the opening ceremony has ALWAYS been on Thursday, never on Friday. It’s a puzzling detail that makes me question once again the sincerity of my tour operators and contacts and feels once again like we’ve been slighted, insulted, and treated poorly. But I may be overreacting. I just don’t like being lied to. Perhaps that’s unreasonable.
For lunch, we hit a few speedbumps before heading once again to Pea. Unfortunately, the bar wasn’t open so no pisco sours for us, but we did order a few sandwiches. Unfortunately, Mom’s “pollo” order got lost in the translation and she wound up with a “carne” order. She accepted it like a trooper, but I feel bad she didn’t get what she wanted. I’ll make it up to her later.
After a brief siesta (when in Rome… or Rapa Nui…), I went for a run to visit a Moai Ahu a bit farther afield. While I didn’t have the same horse/dog/me experience as the day before, at least this time I had my camera and snapped a few things along the way.
We’re just now headed to the other hotel for the packet pickup (made unnecessary due to Rodrigo’s attempts to remedy rough patches so far), race talk, and a supposedly lame pasta dinner (noodles with red sauce, no salad, not much taste and generally given low marks… but maybe lowered expectations are best at the moment). We have to duck out no later than 8 PM to make it to the personal “opening ceremony” which we suspect is actually a dinner theater show without dinner.
What the evening holds is anyone’s guess. Every problem on the island has a solution. So forget it, Kevin. It’s Rapa Nui, man.