Last year I had the good fortune to spend almost three weeks in Chile traveling happily up and down the country. One of the last things I did on the trip was take a plane to Easter Island, some five hours off the coast. When you first get off the plane, you are greeted by people giving you flower garlands.
I went swimming that first afternoon and looked around the island a bit. The people were exceeding friendly and the island was filled with wild horses. I found a horse looking into my bedroom window the first night. It was quite odd indeed.
There are a number of things to see on Easter Island including the ruins of an ancient civilization, volcanos and Eucalyptus forests but most people go to see the Moai. Truly a remarkable experience, I spent a few days driving around in a jeep with a British friend Adam who happened to have a PhD in Archeology looking at these Moai statutes and ruins.
The stautes were just breathtaking with some reaching up to 30 feet in height while weighing more than 75 tons. The statutes were all built between the 12th and 15th centuries and served as altars and places for religious ceremonies and family gatherings. At the height of their glory some 900 of these statues graced the island.
They were truly breathtaking and as always with these types of monuments, I found myself wondering how in the world they were able to carve such enormous statues. Not all of the Moai were in good shape as this photo shows. Many were destroyed, some had disintegrated and others were merely toppled over and eroded by the wind and the sea breezes.
It’s actually hard to fathom how large these statutes are unless you are looking directly at them. These photo shows people walking around the site where the stones to make the Moai came from. This quarry still has some Moai statues built into the rock which were never finished and put on altars.
The next photo shows one of these statutes. It reminds me of Michelangelo’s sculptures of the slaves in the Accademia in Florence. Both sets of statues are trapped in stone and the figures seem to want to spring out. It’s amazing to think what was happening in Western art at the time these sculptures were being built.
All the Moai we saw were standing except for the one in the next photograph. Some faced the sea and some faced inward towards the land. Easter Island has always had a very small population so these sculptures which are the deification of ones ancestors were really built for families. They are quite formulaic with the head being 3/5 the size of the body.
Some sites had long rows of stautes. That’s me with the blue pants. I’m about 5’5 on a good day so that should give you an idea of the grandeur of these beautiful statutes.
Almost painful to think about as we await another snowstorm but yes, Easter Island also has beaches and sand. I went for a beautiful swim on this beach. People were surfing and the day was long and lazy with Moai overlooking the beach in the distant. Pretty snappy.
Hard as it may seem to believe, that is truly the color of the sky on Easter Island, a gorgeous midnight blue. The Moai on this beach have been reconstructed but originally all of the Moai had these top knots. They must be about five feet tall alone and about 40 tons.
Adam and I decided to celebrate that evening and went to an oddly expensive french restaurant on the isalnd called LaTaverne du Pecheur. It was great and we had a lovely bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.
I particularly like Sauvignon Blanc from Chile which is strange because I tend not to gravitate towards that variety. My guess is that anything would have appealed to me after that unbelievable day but if memory serves I actually liked it. I spent a bit more time on Easter Island but it is one of the places in my life that I would love to go back to at another point. I found it completely enthralling and I can see how someone ends up just staying for months or years at a time.