In the middle of the Pacific Ocean and approximately 3500 km west from the nearest contact point from the Chilean mainland lies the magical and enigmatic island known to the locals as Rapa Nui, and to the rest of us as Easter Island. Last week’s earthquake in Chile raised fears of a tsunami and my second thought (after concern for the well being of my Chilean friends and families) was if Easter island was going to be safe.
I have been blessed to have travelled to many unique places in the world and two places that will always be special to me are Bhutan and Easter Island. Bhutan because of the wonderful people, and Easter Island because of the special ambience. My wife and I spent one week in Easter Island in our round the world trip and were both enchanted by the island. For us a week was not long enough to escape from a different world to a world full of history, music, scenery and mystique and where time takes a different meaning and importance as one forgets about the rest of the world. Here, one starts to feel and understand isolation and what it means for not just the individual but also to planet earth within this universe.
Easter Island is a strong reminder of what can happen to a land full of natural resources when it starts to outlive its natural means, and what war and disease bring to an island without a defense or immune mechanism. The story, although dark, is also one of hope where man does find a solution and survives but can this be the same fate that awaits our planet is a question that we answer based on our personal outlook on life – hope for the optimist and gloom for the pessimist.
My friend and National Geographic photographer, Jim Richardson whose work I respect very much has many wonderful photographs showing the Moai with the Milky Way for this is one of the few places on earth with little light pollution. My wife and I went in the rainy season and were unable to see the clear blue skies at night but we were able to get a look at the magic that is brought about when the light shines on this beautiful island. Thank god, this gem was not damaged by the tsunami and can continue to shine for years to come.
Next time, I will share more of Easter Island’s local culture, and write about a music group Matatoa which quickly became a favorite