Thursday, June 16, 2011

RAPA NUI (aka Easter Island)

"YOU ARE HERE," the map says. But where here is, I couldn't really say. I know that we are about 1,000 miles off of the coast of Chile. And that Rapa Nui is part of a number of Polynesian Islands that share a bond of history and common descent dating back...well dating back longer than we may ever be able to securely pinpoint. And beyond that, I feel as if I have stepped into another dimension as we start our day by walking around town.

This is the first sight that greats us on we stroll down to the harbor. 

Everyone has one of these guys outside of their grocery store, right?

Turns out that the variety of stone, figurine sculptures that you encounter across this island's landscape are called Maoi (MO-EYE). One interesting fact about them is that they represent the people of the time that they were made, and not some mystical god. And that they face inland to keep an eye on the people. A stone overlord watching you work? Not that unromantic, but not far from it. The people of Rapa Nui were interested in building bigger, better, Maoi to represent cultural status. My Maoi is bigger than you Maoi kind of a thing...

They took most of their native forests down to build them too.

The harbor doesn't even remotely resemble the massive waves that closed it out the other day when we got here. But out where you see six sailboats bobbing at anchor is where we were when we got a good look at the island for the first time. 

The harbor. Safe to say that the fish here is NOT caught by Long Lining practices. And by the way, never had better Ceviche ANYWHERE! If you like that sort of a thing...

A modern Rapa Nui sculpture's interpretation of their ancient art. I know that the bird-man figure is a representation of one of their gods and I particularly like the dark and light, yin-yang suggestion leading along the back of this figure that sits on a hill looking OUT to sea. 

A soccer pitch for the locals with ancient Maois in the distance along one of their coastal parks. 

Yes, I was actually here. Although at the time, it felt like a walking daydream.