Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Statues of Easter Island

Easter Island is unique. There are more than 500 of these moai statues at various locations around this small, isolated island. Each statue is different. All had been toppled and some of them have been set back up, but many more are still lying down.
This is part of what are called the 15 moai an Tongariki Beach. Like most moai, they are lined up on a platform called an ahu. Archeologists believe that the moai are images of deceased rules and gods and were carved to channel their powers to bring success in battle and prosperity in peace time.
My husband and I returned to this spot, Ahu Tahai, twice to watch the sunset providing a backdrop to the moai. The people of Easter Island are Polynesian, as proven by their language and DNA testing. Thor Heyerdahl was wrong in postulating that they arrived from Peru, although their stone carving skill does look remarkably similar to the skill of Inca stone carvers visible today around Cuzco, Peru.
Easter Island has 4,500 people and 6.500 horses, most of them roaming free. The history of the indigenous population of Easter Island is tragic. They arrived from the west in about 400AD. They had no contact with the outside world for about 700 years. After Europeans arrived, many of the men were taken away to work as slaves in guano mines in Peru. When returned, they brought diseases to the island and the population was reduced to about 100.
The setting of the moai competes with the moai for the enjoyment and contemplation of visitors. .
This is a photo of the Rapa Nui Lodge where we stayed, one of the Explora Lodges in Chile. It looks like a space ship perched on the hillside overlooking the ocean. It is pricey, but spectacular. The concept of Explora Lodges is that they provide a total experience, not just a place to stay. Included in the all-inclusive price is a staff of guides who take you out each day for whatever activities you want to do, which can be hiking, sightseeing, photo stops at the moai, snorkeling, etc. The gourmet food and the opportunities to meet and become friends with other travelers adds to the enjoyment.

Tourism is the main contributor to the economy. For much of the 20th century, most of the island was leased to a British, then a Chilean company that confined the islanders to a tiny village so that the rest of the island could be used for sheep grazing. With this history, some islanders are justifiably concerned to ensure that tourism benefits the local people.

9 comments:

Traveling Hawk said...

Another dream place on the Earth! I like very much the 3rd photo and that with the horse. Thank you for sharing them with us!

Chris said...

Great photos, looks like a wonderful trip.

JM said...

I almost made it to Easter Island but after travelling for one month in Argentina and Chile, I decided to keep it for later. Let's see if I will not regret this... :-) Fantastic shots and post.

Celia na Italia said...

Very nice!

TheChieftess said...

Lovely shots of the island!!!

glenda said...

Very informative and beautiful photos. Interesting about the horses.

Celia na Italia said...

Really nice photos and beautiful place!

FrancescPhoto said...

Fantastic shots!! Salut!!

Francesc, Barcelona

http://balapertotarreu.blogspot.com

SKIZO said...

Awesome
good creations

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