Rapa Nui (More commonly known as Easter Island or Isle de Pasca in English and Spanish respectively). The most remote inhabited island in the world, and one of the most intriguing.
A 5-hour flight from Santiago in the Pacific Ocean the island is a testament to the best and worst of the human race. A classic example of the perils of ecological mis-management and human cruelty, yet also of hospitality and creativity.
One has to admire the Polynesians; the way that they populated such remote places was anything but primitive. Excellent seafarers they reached and established Rapa Nui.
Easter Island is of course famous for its many moai, in fact 887 of them.
The guardians and ‘gods’ of the island, the reverence for which can be seen as they appear everywhere, whether on a beach or island, on the hills or even in the volcano crater!
Moai still not yet separated from the rock can still been seen.
However in using so many trees for building their boats and for transporting and creating the moai, the island’s ecological balance was shattered and so today there are relatively few trees. Something we (Jinhee and I) were reminded of in the searing (and it was certainly at times) heat and sunshine. This gave Jinhee a swollen lip and myself several shades as we were not protected from the sun or rain. Although it is the sun that that will be your main concern.
I walked for hours and Jinhee biked in our week of staying in the island. Easter Island is wonderful to live as long as you can put up with a slow internet by yesterday’s standards.
The moai are beautiful and numerous. The volcano crater Rano Raraku, is a beautiful site indeed <picture>
The beach of Anakena is beautiful and not overcrowded, in fact arrive early and it will be deserted and the moai sites including Ahu Tongariki and Ahu Akivi wonderful photogenic places.
The beautiful clean sea, the scenery and historic moai are just wonderful, and if you have clear skies at night you get beautiful sunsets and stars. I till this day have never seen so many stars, shining so beautifully. Easter Island is safe day or night but without a flashlight you may regret walking at night, as I saw sunset and stayed out too long on one day I had to find my way back in almost complete darkness. Although I could make out the tide and breathe the fresh air. A place not destroyed by capitalism and almost ecologically perfect. The deforestation is still a problem which leads to another chapter.
The inhabitants turn on their ‘gods’ and each other. Perhaps because of the failure of them to secure the islands food or sustain the way of life, moai were trampled, eyes from the statues gorged and a new cult the birdman arose while the natives shed blood. Throughout Easter Island you can see fallen moai, while Earthquakes can occur most of these were overturned by warring hands. As the moai faced retribution. <fallen moai picture>
Cycling is probably the best way although biking is arguably more suitable in practical terms but not environmentally. Hitchhiking is the normal in Easter Island and is totally safe do so. It is what the locals do. Don’t pay any money. It is not expected and not a good habit to introduce.
The only problem with hitching is the further you get from Hanga Roa the more rare a car. One will come by but you will have a wait. We successfully though hitched hiked a taxi! I guess a pinnacle of achievement. We did decide to use the taxi driver the next day. < picture>
When walking I was offered water by tour groups, lifts of course.
And we met this kind mother and son from Chile <photo>. On a less positive note there is some resentment held by some to Chileans by a few islanders which may translate into some kind of ant-white racism but I doubt anybody will actually experience any.
A person who stopped to give us a list was incredibly bitter (not to us) of historical reasons and put it very strong terms indeed. However he would not have stopped if we were white so I don’t think he would be of actual harm to anybody. This was not the typical experience we had. <picture>