Sorry for the big gap since the last posting... We left Santiago Tuesday the 11th on a 5 hour flight to Easter Island. We had very slow internet service there so couldn't upload photos. I'll take the next couple blogs to catch you up on our adventure.
Easter Island was given it's name by a Dutch explorer who encountered the island on Easter Sunday 1722. Locals prefer to use the Polynesian name of Rapa Nui (Big Island). It is 2,200 miles off the coat of Chile, 2,00 miles east of Tahiti, and 4,300 miles southeast of Hawaii making it the most isolated piece of land in the world. The current population is about 5,000.
This is a place surrounded by mystery. There is much history and lore, much of it contradictory. We spent 3 days learning about this fascinating place with our local guide Nicholas (Nikko).
The history of Easter Island is rich and highly controversial. It's inhabitants developed a sophisticated culture then endured famines, epidemics, civil war, slave raids, colonialism, and the collapse of their ecosystem.
Oral tradition says the island originally had a very clear class system, with the ariki (king) wielding absolute god-like power. The most visible element in the culture was the production of the massive statues that are part of the ancestral worship.
The large stone statues, or moai, for which Easter Island is famous were carved during a relatively short time ranging from 400 - 1600 CE. There are a total of nearly 900 moai on the island, most carved out of volcanic ash called tuff. Each statue represents a deceased long-ear chief or important person, their body interred within the ahu (Coastal Platform) the maoi stands upon. Only a quarter of the statues were actually installed, while nearly half still remain in the quarry and others are scattered about the island.