Dec 15, 2011 2 Comments
Many greetings from Easter Island. Located at just over 2,500 miles from the continent of South America, Easter Island is like nowhere else on earth. It is historically intriguing, culturally compelling and scenically magical, this tiny little island looks like it's fallen off another planet. often considered one of the remotest inhabited islands in the world. This enigmatic island lies at the very southeastern most point of the Polynesian Triangle in the south Pacific and truly defies understanding. How did this tiny spit of land come to be inhabited by the ancient Polynesian people, who used only outrigger canoes to reach their destinations? Once they reached the island, how did they build the ancient stone Moai for which the island has come to be known for? These are just some of the questions I hope to find answers to while visiting this little island. The island’s first recorded European visitor, the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, gave the name Easter Island (or het Paasch-Eyland, in 18th century Dutch) after “discovering” the island on Easter Sunday in 1722. Roggeveen came upon the island while searching for the Davis’ Island. The island is also often referred to by its Polynesian name, Rapa Nui, meaning Big Rapa or by its official Spanish name of Isla de Pascua, which it received after it became annexed by Chile in 1888. They say that the journey is often greater than the destination and getting to the island has been a most interesting experience. One that can only one day lead me to spend hours laughing about. My flight left on a nice sunny afternoon from Minneapolis to Washington Dulles. From here I was due to fly on to Buenos Aires, but about 2 hours before the flight left there was an announcement that the flight had been delayed for 10 hours (until 7:00 the next morning). Because of this delay, I would miss my connecting flight in Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile; so they rebooked me on to the flight to Sao Paolo, Brazil, connecting on to Santiago the next afternoon. Although I arrived in Santiago without any problems, my baggage on the other hand did not. I do not usually check my bag, but due to the size of the bag (larger than normal to accommodate the camping gear), I had to check it. I made my claim with the LAN luggage service and here I sit, 5 days later still without luggage. A good laugh and possibly a very important change in trip plans. Update: I skyped with United today and they confirmed the bag arrived in Santiago. Walked back to the airport for the second time today and they confirmed it would be on the flight tomorrow to Easter Island. I spent my first two nights in Santiago with my friends Rodrigo and Eliseo. We had planned to go wine tasting but with the above debacle, I had to go back to the airport and file a report, which took up much of the day. But it was good to hang out and spend some time together. Then it was on to Easter Island. It is believed that Easter Island became inhabited after a group of polynesian inhabitants left their island in polynesia and came upon the island. It is believed that they were led by their leader, King Hotu Matua. They came from the west and landed at Anakena Beach. Some people believe that they landed in 450 AD, though earliest archaeological evidence says 800 AD. My first day on the island, I walked about 2 miles to the site of Ahu Tahai (actually there are 3 ahu here), just outside of the town of Hanga Roa. This provided for a great introduction to the island and the sights of the moai. Finally the excitement peaked and I could gaze upon the moai with my own eyes. Definitely much better in person, though, I had always pictured them even bigger than they are. Don't get me wrong, they are huge, but in my mind I was picturing monstrous sizes. The average moai is approximately 5.5 to 7 meters in height. I later walked back to this site to watch the sun set behind the maoi. The next morning I arranged for a taxi to take me to the other side of the island to watch the sun rise over the largest ahu, Ahu Tongariki. Here, the 15 stone moai stand before the rising sun. It is hard to put into words what it was like; where the beauty of the rising sun only amplifies the enigmas that are the moai. Enhancing their mysteriousness.