Our first night on Easter Island found me sitting on the porch enjoying the warm island breeze. There was no moon and just a few stray clouds floating through the night sky. David bought a new camera and tripod for the trip. He was buzzing on and off the porch setting up his tripod in various locations pointing the camera to the sky in hopes of capturing the perfect picture of the amazing number of stars we could see. Since we live in the well-lit downtown area, even on the darkest of nights we can only see a smattering of stars. Here on the island it is pitch black dark. There are no streetlights where we are and very few house lights to pierce the darkness. With so little light pollution you can see thousands and thousands of stars in the sky. The Milky Way was as clear as a bell. What an amazing sight.
Out in the dark we began to hear rustling sounds off in the distance. Earlier in the day, Peter, our bungalow owner, warned us about several interesting characteristics of the island. One, there are more than 2000 wild horses; two, there are probably just as many wild dogs; and three, don’t drive too fast as either of these or a wayward cow can wander into the road at any moment in time. Finally, most importantly, always close the gate across the across the driveway to the bungalows or the horses will come in and eat everything in poor Peter’s garden. Even being city people, when the shuffling, rustling and snorting came closer to the porch we knew the horses had somehow gotten into the yard. David and I had gone out for dinner. When we returned, we obediently made sure that the gate was securely latched across the driveway. David shined his flashlight down the driveway and sure enough the gate was securely closed. While we felt personally relieved of the situation, we still felt bad that somehow, despite our best efforts the horses had come in while Peter was out.
David, secure in the fact that there was no such thing as a man-eating horse was not the least bit distracted from his new found love of photography. He continued to be swallowed up in the dark as he set up his tripod in yet another location in an effort to get the perfect shot of the night sky. The peacefulness of the evening continued to be broken by a chorus of barking dogs, followed by the sound of hooves pounding the ground as the dogs herded the horses to the back of the property. Out of sheer curiosity we pointed the flashlight out into the field. Shining back at us were about 9 sets of horse eyes and at least a dozen doggie eyes.
I spent the rest of my evening sitting on the porch of a lovely bungalow with a warm island breeze caressing my skin, drinking cold beer and listening to the horses munch and run, the dogs yip and bark and David happily muttering to himself while snapping picture after picture. What a fantastic way to start my Easter Island adventure!