Oh hey world! I'm back from the last leg of my crazy 2-week "spring break" at Lollapalooza, Torres del Paine, and finally, Easter Island. I slept for roughly 12 hours last night and am currently procrastinating the mountain of reading that has piled up in my absence. Yay school!
On Wednesday morning I dragged myself out of bed to the airport to meet up with the group for our flight to Easter Island. This trip was through the program so it was more structured and planned than my time in Patagonia which was a nice change of pace. I was also really excited to see my friends who hadn't gone to Torres del Paine with me.
After a smooth five hour flight over the Pacific (shout out to the personal entertainment systems on LAN, I got to watch Modern Family the entire time!) we landed in Easter Island at the smallest airport I've ever been to. Our tour guide gave us all leis (yay!!) and we headed to the hotel to explore and grab dinner
Easter Island, called Rapa Nui in the language of its native people, is the most remote inhabited island on earth. While some people think it was settled by aliens (hence the giant statues) most anthropologists believe it was settled by people for other Polynesian islands, mainly due to similarities in language and some traditions. Today, Easter Island is a part of the Chilean state which is somewhat controversial. Some Rapa Nui believe that the island should be independent since it is so different from mainland Chile. They feel that the Chileans who represent them in government are so far removed from Rapa Nui society that they cannot possibly serve their needs. Our tour guide told us that this was true but that most Rapa Nui would actually just like more autonomy from Chile and that "independence is a big word". Because Easter is so far away from mainland and has very little agricultural or other industry, an overwhelming majority of its products are imported. As a result, the island's relationship with Chile is very important.
The next three days were spent exploring the different ruins around the island. The most well-known attraction of Rapa Nui is its moai statues, which were constructed during the islands heyday to represent deceased family chiefs. The statues stand on a platform and below that the bodies of the chiefs are buried. Over time, the varying tribes on the island began to fight each other. At first the rival tribes would build bigger and bigger statues to represent their power, but towards the end of the war warring factions began knocking down the moai of their rivals. When European explorers reached the island in the late 1700s no statues were left standing. Since then some have been resurrected by archeologists while others remain toppled.
I'd never been to a tropical island before and I have to say I think Easter Island was a great place to start. It's absolutely beautiful and rich in history. This week it's back to a routine here in Santiago which, while sort of a letdown after the last two weeks will actually be really nice. I miss my daily commute, exploring the city, and just hanging out with Claudia and her family.
Until next time--ciao!