Ok, here goes. The final morning on Easter Island started with a gorgeous pink sky, birds chirping and light rain falling. These few days on the island have reminded me of life in Costa Rica in so many ways, and it’s really made me feel at home. The sounds and the smells have made me sleep just as soundly as the rocking of the ship and I’m definitely going to miss both!
I can attest to the fact that the Moai statues are impressive and awe-inspiring. If you wanted to introduce a new religion/way of operating, it would be pretty difficult to surpass the awesomeness of those statues, yet the village site at Orongo does just that. Set on the edge of the crater, overlooking the ocean and three small islands full of nesting seabirds, it’s the perfect place to capture the imagination. It was here at this village that the birdman culture was created.
It was this birdman culture that continued until 1860’s when rounds of slave traders decimated the population, followed by missionaries intent on converting the remaining few and wiping out all of their “pagan” practices. After that, the Rapa Nui people were moved to the town site of Hanga Roa, while the remainder of the island was used for ranching (for a period of time Chile actually rented it to Britain to raise sheep for wool). It has only been in recent years, most notably with the 1997 restoration of Tongariki, that the mana has once again shifted back into the hands of the locals. While many look at Easter Island as an example how over exploitation of resources leads to the “collapse” of a society, there are others, like Patricia and Ata, who instead choose to view it as story of survival. Despite all that has happened in the past 600 years, there is still a Rapa Nui people who are proud of their heritage and who are actively moving this island through its next chapter. It will be interesting to watch how this island changes in the coming years and I am grateful to have gotten a glimpse of it!