LivingTravelEaster Island: the navel of the world

Easter Island: the navel of the world

Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui and Easter Island, is very far from anywhere. Te Pitoote Hanua , which means “The Navel of the World” is the most isolated inhabited island in the world, some 3,200 km from Chile and Tahiti, and until the Mataveri International Airport was built in the 1960s, getting there was only Boat.

This is how the Dutch “discovered” the island in 1772, when Admiral Jacob Roggeween landed there on Easter Sunday and gave the island its non-native name. He was the first European to describe the unusual statues carved out of the volcanic rock at Rano Raraku. Standing up to 18 feet (5.5 m) tall and weighing many tons, the statues are known as moai , and each are representations of the same figure, perhaps a god or mythical creature, or an ancestral figure. . This beautiful Tour of the Ruins will give you an idea of what Roggeween and his crew saw.

The moai stood in a row along the coast, (see map) a few looking out to sea as sentinels or guardians of the people of Rapa Nui, but most looking inland, as if supervising the island’s activity . There were many additional statues of different sizes and stages of completion on the slopes of the volcano.

The Admiral described cultivated lands and forests, as well as the moai that you will see on Easter Island in 3 Dimensions. He estimated the population at more than 10,000. When successive visits by English, Spanish, and French expeditions visited the island in the late 18th century, they found a much smaller population, many toppled moai, and very little land under cultivation. Whalers brought the island to a standstill, and then slave traders captured 1,000 natives and brought them to work in the Guano Islands off the coast of Peru in 1862.

Of the 100 who survived, 15 returned to Rapa Nui with smallpox. The 1881 census listed fewer than 200 people.

Chile annexed the island in 1888 during a period of expansion after the War of the Pacific, which took away access to Bolivia. Until the 1950s, the Easter Island Exploration Company (CEDIP) was the de facto governing body, like the arm of an Anglo-Chilean company. The Chilean government revoked CEDIP’s lease and the Chilean navy administered the island. With improvements in the basic quality of life, living on Rapa Nui became easier.

Today, with air travel, supplies, and increased interest around the world, the population of Easter Island is growing. They all live in the only town of Hanga Roa. Rapa Nui has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. There are regular flights from Santiago and tourists, scientists and curiosity seekers come to examine the moais , learn about the island’s past, and reflect on the lessons it holds for the future.

There are many mysteries on Easter Island. For a small island, approximately 64.4 square miles (166.4 square kilometers), there is much to discover and interpret.

One of the easier mysteries, if more chilling, is the mystery of the population disappeared between the visits of Admiral Jacob Roggeween and Captain Cook in 1774. The accepted explanation is that the islanders had exhausted their resources: agriculture could not feed to the growing population. . They cut down the trees and, without the means to build canoes and leave the island, they eventually resorted to war and cannibalism. The moai were toppled when first one faction and then the other destroyed their statues.

Many theorists see what happened on Easter Island, label it Rapa Nui Syndrome, and see it as a warning to the rest of Earth’s population.

The permanent mystery is the Moai statues of Rapa Nui. What are they? Why are? Who are they? A prevailing theory is that each of the moai is a representation of the god and ancestor, and as in other Polynesian religions, it gave power or mana to the people who erected and maintained the statue. If, as was theorized, each of the families or clans on the island, had their own moai , building a platform called ahu to serve as a family vault, then it is easy to understand why the warring clans would want to destroy the source of El. power of the other.

This theory does not explain the location of the moai , nor why some look so different from those with long ears, thin lips, and smiling expressions. Traditionally, the warring factions have been identified as Short Ears and Long Ears, which may account for the greater number of long-eared statues. Then there is the mystery of the lost eyes. Were the eye sockets cut out and left empty until the moai was erected and the manna was supposed to start working, or were the eyes, made of coral and slag, inserted only on ceremonial occasions?

Thor Heyerdahl exposed that the settlers of Rapa Nui came by raft from South America. His book Kon-Tiki created a wave of interest and permission to excavate and examine some of the moai . Since then, theorists have supported his work, as in Linguistic Evidence of Early Peruvian-Rapanui Contacts, or have completely refuted the idea that humans had anything to do with the Moai . In The Space Gods Revealed , Erik Von Daniken theorized that bored aliens created the statues.

Neither theories are supported by archaeological evidence, although perhaps the NOVA team that attempted to erect a statue using only the tools a native inhabitant would have, could have received some outside help. Read his story in Secrets of Easter Island. All the moai now standing were re-erected in the last decades.

As the moai were torn down or abandoned, and no new ones were created, the culture changed to what is now called the cult of the BirdMan. This still existed, and was documented in the 1860s and there are more than 150 carvings or petroglyphs on the rocks around the ruins of the village of Orongo, near the Rano Kau caldera. The carvings depict the body of a man with the head of a bird, sometimes holding an egg in one hand, and there is a theory that this cult demonstrates a desire to escape the island. The basic ceremony of this cult was the task of finding the first egg laid each spring on an offshore island by Manu Tara , a sacred bird.

Each clan chief sent a candidate, or hopu , to swim to Moto Nui, the largest island below Orongo, there to wait for the eggs to be laid. When the hopu found an egg, he tied it to his forehead and then made the dangerous swim backwards, climb up the cliffs and present the egg to him without breaking his boss. This boss would become BirdMan for next year, with powers and privileges. Some of the petroglyphs have fertility symbols mixed in. At the other end of the island there is an area that is considered a solar observatory or an astronomy tower.

The Rapa Nui had a form of writing called rongorongo that no one could decipher. The meaning and source of these enigmatic characters has been open to interpretation for years, ever since a tablet was sent to Tepano Jaussen, Bishop of Tahiti, out of respect for the newly converted islanders.

How to get
You will probably go to Easter Island by plane. LAN Chile is the only airline that flies there, but it can make three weekly connections from Santiago or twice a week from Papeete, Tahiti. The flight from Santiago lasts almost six hours, but the return, due to the prevailing winds, is less than five hours. Mataveri International Airport, just outside Hanga Roa, has the longest runway of all Chilean airfields and serves as an emergency landing strip for space shuttles.

Check flights from your area to Santiago or other locations in Chile. You can also search for hotels and car rentals.

When to go
The temperature rarely exceeds 85 (30ºC) degrees and does not fall below 57 degrees (14ºC). Prepare for the wind, which keeps the temperature comfortable, and for a light rain several times a day. May is the wettest month, but the porous volcanic soil drains quickly. Bring comfortable clothing, good walking shoes or boots, a sweater or sweatshirt, and a windbreaker. The most expensive months are during the summer season from December to March.

Check today’s weather in Rapa Nui.

Things to do and see
Depending on the length of your stay, and it really wouldn’t be worth traveling that way and not spending four or five days there, you can plan to see the entire island on foot, 4X4, horseback, or motorbike. If you are cycling or walking, remember to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Also have a snack as there are no shops outside of Hanga Roa. The roads and tracks are difficult, but there is not a lot of traffic and you will be safe. The islanders like to say that the only thing that occupies the jail are cobwebs.

You can plan a car trip, with stops at some of the most famous moai, or a detailed study of each, and include a stop at the quarry site to reflect on the half-buried and incomplete statues there. Visit Ahu Akivi, Ahu Nau Nau, Ahu Tahai, and Rano Raraku. There are fees to enter the ceremonial village of Orongo and Ahu Tahai.

You will not get lost. Easter Island is more or less triangular, with a volcano that anchors each corner. Maunga Pukatikei at 1,200 feet (400 m) occupies the northeast corner, Rano Kau at 1,353 feet (410 m) the southeast corner, and the highest peak, Maunga Terevaka at 2,151.6 feet (652 m) presides over the northwest corner. The slopes are arid, and you can exercise going up and down gentle hills. To date, there is no prohibited area, but please respect the archaeological work, the fact that a third of the island is the Rapa Nui National Park.

You will not be allowed to remove any artifacts. You can buy replicas of moais, rongorongo tablets, and other local artifacts in the markets.

Accommodation, gastronomy and more
There are several hotels on the island, numerous guest houses, and you can camp in Anakena on the north coast, but all food and water must be brought with you. Check them for availability, rates, services, etc. location, activities and other specific information. Some families will allow you to camp on their grounds. If you are traveling with a tour, your accommodation needs will be reserved, otherwise you can take a chance and make your own arrangements upon arrival.

Many families come across the incoming planes and you can make your selection at that time.

Since everything is imported, prepare for higher food costs. It can be less expensive to buy your breakfast and lunch necessities at a local store (there are now two supermarkets) and dine at a restaurant for dinner. Lobster is delicious. There is a selection of shops and restaurants.

As the island’s economy increasingly revolves around tourism, discontent with Chilean property grows. There is an ongoing movement for self-determination and autonomy. Spanish and the local language are spoken, and local festivals like the Rapa Nui Tapati Fiesta, held every February, celebrate solidarity with Rapa Nui. Some groups, such as the Council of Elders , want the national park to be returned to the original inhabitants, who do not own any property outside of Hanga Roa. Rapa Nui News will keep you informed. Other organizations, such as the Rapa Nui Outrigger Club, teach skills, history and an appreciation of their culture to young islanders, in addition to competing in canoe races.

You will find Rapa Nui to be a pleasant and hospitable place to visit, but don’t be surprised if you experience the sense of the mysterious, the sadness and the attraction of the ancient moai .

Enjoy your visit!

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