Rapa Nui
Isla de Pascua
Easter Island
November 2006
Rapanui is a small island, a triangle shaped island that is ten miles by fifteen miles. The island was formed by volcanic activity and is
located 2400 miles west of Chile. The current population is something under 4,000 people. The people on this island are the most
remote people in the world. With the nearest land thousands of miles away, the waves come crashing very abruptly into the island.
One of the most enjoyable
aspects of our visit was staying in
a Polynesian residencia with Lucia
for six nights. The fruit was all
fresh from her yard (bananas,
papaya, avocado, and papaya),
fresh milk from her cow, fresh
eggs from the chickens, and fresh
bread baked every morning. The
people here make a point of the
fact that their food is "natural" and
one Polynesian waitress who had
lived in San Diego for three years
was quite condescending of
American food!

Lucia and her helpers Jose and
Sonia were marvelous hosts and
did everything possible to make
our stay pleasant.
Food and lodging are
expensive on Rapa Nui since
everything not grown on the
island must be imported from
2,500 miles to an island of less
than 4,000 people. In the
grocery store, I noted that all
the soda pop had labels
showing they had been flown in
by Lan Chile. Accordingly,
Jackie and I ate modestly. We
ate lunch at this hut three days
on a beach on the north side of
the island. A modest lunch of
meat and salad was $10 and a
can of coke was $2.

Rapa Nui does have a
marvelous airport built by NASA
as an emergency landing place
for the space shuttle.
Rapa Nui is a simple island. There are no time shares, chain hotels, luxury hotels, or restaurants. 98% of the accommodations would
not rank more than one star in the rest of the world. The people are friendly and the tourists are not the usual sort as they come
here to learn about a past civilization. Tourists could be seen walking long distances, hiking, and peddling bikes. The first day we
hiked over 12 miles around the island. The next four days we rented a Suzuki four wheeler and roamed the island with our excellent
guidebook. Most of the time we were by ourselves or with only another car or two. Part of the secret is to avoid the tour buses that
roam the island in a clock wise fashion. However, with only one plane a day to Rapa Nui, this is not a crowded place. Sadly, we
encountered no Americans. They seem to stick to cruise ships and "safe places". Maybe this is why we were so easily sold a war in
Iraq--we may be out of touch with the rest of the world.
During our stay on the island, we were fortunate to attend two outstanding concerts. The festival was conducted specifically for local
children to remind them of their heritage. Unfortunately, the first night I did not take my camera, and that was the event with
sensational costumes. However, on Sunday when we went to the beach, we were fortunate to encounter some of the native people
doing their dances.
We had heard that one of the most pleasant experiences on the island would be to attend mass on Sunday morning, and it was. The
singing in Rapa Nui was sweet and beautiful. Several men sat on pews in front of the church with guitars--no amplifiers--and another
man played the accordion. We arrived at the church twenty minutes early, but the singing had already started and was frequent
during the service. What intrigued me most was the wood carvings in the church.
Above, the Virgin Mary
The most interesting figure was the "bird man" image
(above), which has nothing to do with Christianity but
is a part of the Rapanui legacy. There were also
paintings of the bird man on the outside of the church
(right).