The story of Easter Island I have already told. Here now are a few loose ramblings:
The seeking people apparently came from Polynesia originally, the exact date of the first settlement is unknown – estimates vary between 300 and 1200 AD. Rapa Nui is the top of a 3000m high mountainous region and was created by three volcanic eruptions – the first on the left, the second on the right, and the third closed off the gap in the middle, for which reason the island has a nice triangular form, size 24km x 12km x 16km.
The clouds can also be quite spectacular. One evening, I was taking photos of statues in front of sunset, when I turned around and saw this:
Rapa Nui is doomed: Every year, the island advances 9cm towards the South American mainland, and one day, will disappear under the continental plate. Well, at 9cm a year and 3800 km in total that will take another 42 million years, if I am not mistaken, so don’t panic, there is still enough time to visit the island.
The magnetism of Easter Island can be taken literally: There is a stone (also called “navel of the world”), which must exude such strong magnetism that all compasses get confused and lose their North.
Not only that: When you drive down a hill in that area, stop the car and leave it in neutral without brakes applied, it will automatically and all on its own start reversing up the hill again, getting faster and faster – it feels a bit weird and is really against all physical laws, but it works, I’ve tried it myself.
There are many free-running horses on the island, which makes driving in the dark rather thrilling. It’s also quite exciting when the horses break into the garden, munch the grass, and refuse to respect the barking and jumping dogs, whose job it would be to drive them out again. Only the arrival of the owner, on motorbike and roaring through that same garden, can entice them to leave the juicy green grass again.
The highlight of the Rapa Nui year: Tapati – also called “carnival”. It has, in my view, little in common with other carnivals known to me. It really is two weeks of competition, with the selection of a king and a queen (well, not this year) at the end. For this, they sing and they dance, they swim, ride, glide down a volcano on a banana leave (unfortunately, I’d left the island by that time), hammer down on animal skins, draw on animal skins, carve little Moais… From pictures, I’d expected that the entire population would run around in little feathered loin clothes (men) and little feathered bikinis (women), but that was not to be – it was mainly only the two aspirants for the title of the king who wore the traditional dress (not looking half bad!)
After I’d watched one of these competitions, waiting in the very hot, very humid heat that something would happen at some point before I succumbed to a heat stroke, in the further course of my stay I rather focused on taking pictures of stone men. In the evenings, the dance and song contests took place, including Tango, which my Argentinian cabin neighbour commented with words that I don’t want to repeat – in summary, she was not impressed. The two kings in waiting as well as their supporters receive points from an independent jury after each performance, but without being an expert in these things, of course, the word “independent” may have a different definition on Rapa Nui. And at least the song contest I saw didn’t have the fun factor of, say, X-Factor, nor was it terribly good, and as I don’t watch Folklore at home, I started thinking why it is that we always think we need to run to all these events in foreign countries and find them great? All things told, to me, it appeared much more of a tourist-event than I had expected. But I must say: Some of the people really are quite easy on the eye.
I attended a beautiful church service – the Rapa Nui were evangelized in the 19th century (it only took 4 years, but at that time, after war and slavery, the resistance was rather low, I imagine), but maintained their songs – it all reminded of gospel songs, with guitar and accordion, were beautiful.
But in the end, it’s really the Moais who make Rapa Nui a magical place – I couldn’t get enough and really fell in love with them. Seeing so many of them fallen, broken, destroyed by rain and wind induces heart ache – they were created with so much love, moved with so much effort, were admired and idolized, only to be toppled over without mercy and left in ruin – it doesn’t seem fair. In this case, I can truly say: Viva el turismo – at least now some were repaired and put upright again, and now again, they are being admired and a bit idolized – at least by me.