Sunday, April 20, 2008

Island at the End of the World

I'm finally getting around to posting my Easter Island photos. I took 375 photos/videos which is about a 500% increase over my normal amount. These are just a selection - basically a cut and paste from my Picasa album. The "Blog This" function only allows 4 photos to be uploaded at a time, and I am too lazy to merge them all into one big post, hence a dozen different entries. This was really a fantastic trip. Off the beaten path, for sure, but extremely interesting. Two recommendations:

1) If you are thinking about Easter Island, it is worth the visit. It is pretty far out there, but not that tough to get to on LAN.

2) If you are thinking about traveling to somewhere random, and everyone you tell thinks you are crazy, ignore them and go anyway. Most of my friends thought I had lost my mind when I told them that I was going to Easter Island, but I have had more requests to see my pictures than for every other trip in the past 5 years combined. Ignore the critics, hop on (better than Orbitz) and book a ticket. Oh, and drop me a line so that I can tag along.

On the plane - A tiny spec of land in a sea of blue. Easter Island is the farthest place from anywhere. The most remote inhabited place on earth. I was starting to get really excited at about this point.

The Ahu (platform) and Mo'ai (statues) at Anakena beach on the far side of the island. Four of the Mo'ai have their pukao or "topknots" on.

The backside of the Ahu at Anakena. Note the carvings on the backs. All statues face inland. A common misperception is that they face the ocean. The palm trees visible in the background were re-introduced in the 20th century. The island had up to 16 million palm trees on it when first settled by humans between 600-1000 AD. By the 1600's, the island had been completely deforested and not a singe tree remained. This was part of the downfall of the statue building civilization, and contributed to the isolation of the island as no wood for boats existed.

Also at Anakena beach, the first Mo'ai ever re-erected. When first discovered by western sailors, all of the statues on the ahus were intact and standing. By the late 1700's all of the mo'ai had been toppled, many with their necks intentionally broken. This was a result of internecine warfare between various clans on the island. Breaking the neck destroyed the "mana" or spiritual power of the statues. All statues standing on ahus today have been re-erected. This one was re-erected using traditional methods by Thor Heyerdal (of Kon-Tiki fame) in the 50's.
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