You can feel the “MANA” just about everywhere on this beautiful island, situated in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean (it is in fact the worlds most remote inhabited island). Mana is what they call the spirits that can evolve from anything, a person, object or nature. The Island’s nature is, despite its small size of only 163 square km, very diverse. The breathtaking view from the edges of the extinct volcanoes onto the freshwater crater lakes certainly makes you feel the mana of those places!
And then there is the “Moai”, massive statues carved at the Rana Raraku Volcano, which were then schlepped and put up in various places on the island. Many of them still lay face down, but a lot have been reerected in the past 60 years and they, too, exude a lot of mana, which is why you’re not allowed to come close to them.
Now, I can alraedy hear some of you, screaming “now she’s trying to lecture and bore us with Rapa Nui culture and history”! You might just want to stop reading here. I’m far from lecturing anyone with the little I learned, but it’s just too impressive to not mention it.
In short: Some 100 Polynesians arrived with their canoes ages ago and the 12 or so sons of the arriving polynesian chief formed different clans that all lived happily for some hundreds of years in which they created a strong culture based on polynesian beliefs. What is special, though, is that they carved and put up hundreds of Moais, most of them looking inland towards their villages to protect them with mana. These Moais represent respected elders and were created to resemble them. As time went by the Moais created appeared less human and more god-like and they got bigger and bigger. Somewhere along that line the birdman competition evolved, meaning that every chief sent off one warrior to a motu (small island 1km from the western cliffs) in order to bring back the first sooty tern egg laid by the migrating birds. The winner’s chief was declared Birdman (thus having loadsof mana) and his clan took command of the whole island for one year. This cult was probably a result of the failing ecosystem, as the growing population outpaced natures capacity to renew itself. This also resulted in fights among the tribes, who toppled many of the almost 300 Moai statues. All other statues fell as a result of tsunamis and other natural disasters. The missionaries ended the Birdman cult in the 1860s. Slavery, diseases and other catastrophes led to a decimation of the population to only around 100. Although Easter Island officially belongs to Chile, the Rapa Nui culture is still strongly influenced by its polynesian ancestors, especially the language, music and dances.
I had plenty of time to explore the island’s volcanoes, quarries, Moais, caves, beaches and the (only) village by foot, bike (really needed to be active again after that lazy week in French Polynesia and luckily the climate is much more pleasant with a high of only 27°C) and with a small group tour (photos to follow). It is amazingly “empty” and you can walk for at least two hours without meeting anyone! They only have 90.000 visitors a year, but tourism is increasing, so you’d better visit this amazing island sooner than later…
When it comes to food, there is a great Chilean influence: tasty tuna empanadas, Ceviche (raw fish), all kinds of seafood, most definitely accompanied by Pisco Sour – love it! What’s best though, and this came as a surprise, is Mikafe’s ice cream parlour at the small pier! The ice cream is by far the creamiest and tastiest I have had in ages and they have a great variety, e.g. “Piña” made from the small and sweet local pineapple. To die for!
We’re gonna indulge in seafood and icecream again tonight before we’ll watch the sunset!