Seriously, who flies 6 hours to see big stone heads?! We do, as well as the other 50,000 people per year that get to Easter Island, the world’s most remote inhabited island in the world. I can say without hesitation that all the travel effort is worth it – this place is a fascinating mix of history, legend and bizarre topography.
Let’s start with the fact that we see, on average, 3 rainbows a day here. Not just little rainbows either, but the full-length ones! It must be the combination of misty rain and sun that brings them out so frequently. Whatever it is, it was a nice day-brightener!
As always, Nick did an abundance of research before choosing our guide. In the end he went with Paul of www.tekarera.com, who’s originally from Wyoming but has been coming to the island since he was 16 (he’s now in his 50’s). He has a wealth of knowledge, having participated in the restorations of most of the island’s major sights. This man KNOWS HIS ISLAND. I couldn’t help but giggle when he’d offhandedly comment about young know-it-alls misplacing sacred rocks during park clean-ups. It was obvious that he had an endearing sense of ownership for the island.
His tours were really casual and filled with lots of random information that was insanely detailed and interesting (due to all his intimate interactions with the the restorations). At one point in the tour, he picked up a piece of coral that he believed was used as the eye of a statue and hands it to Nick to look at. I was totally like, “Ummm, should we be touching that if it’s an ancient artifact?” but since Paul was both so locally respected and reverent of the place I figured if he said it was okay, then it was.
And now, a bit of history: The large stone statues are called Moai and were carved out of local volcanic rock by the Rapa Nui people (Polynesians) sometime between 1100 and 1500 AD. The statues were meant to house the spirit of a specific individual and were actually carved in that person’s likeness. All Moai were placed on stone platforms called Ahus. Additionally, each statue got a topper or hat called a Pukao made out of red volcanic stone. 887 statues have been inventoried and are scattered across the island. Restoration began in the 1950’s and has resulted in 50 of them be resurrected.
One of the great mysteries surrounding the statues is the legend that each statue ‘walked’ to it’s final spot. National Geographic featured an article this month on it’s cover presenting their solution to how the statues made it across the island erect. You can read the article HERE. However it happened, it was DAMN IMPRESSIVE.
Here we are at one of the three volcanic craters (no longer active). The magnitude of it was astounding – it was 1 mile across! I continue to marvel at this place and can’t wait to see what awaits us tomorrow!