Monday, July 30, 2012

Easter Odds and Ends

Five days I spent on Easter Island. You might well ask yourself what on earth there is to do besides look at moai. It is not that big an island, and there is only one town on it. That is the subject of this blog.
For starters, you can hike up the side of a FREAKIN EXTINCT VOLCANO (or as the literature refers to it, Rano Kau)!!! Personally, I prefer my calderas with cute little white houses built into the side, but I suppose the endangered wildlife area is a nice variation. Quite nearly as picturesque, too, although housing fewer restaurants, shops, and hot Greek men than my last extinct volcano.
While you’re there, you can check out the folk village, Orongo. This was the center of the Birdman cult, which apparently entailed strapping young men swimming out to the little craggy islands pictured below and trying to be the first one back with the egg of a migratory bird that nested there. It was a great honor, or something – the main appeal for the girls, no doubt, was in seeing the strapping lads wearing practically nothing. Or maybe that got old after a while.
Yeah. Those smallish ones out there in the water. The water with the waves. The waves that offer great surfing, if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m not a surfer, although I was greatly impressed by the guys who were doing it last night, and if it’s something you’re interested in learning, you can do that here, too. You can scuba dive and snorkel as well – I meant to do that, but the company I emailed about going with told me to see them when I got in, and when I finally got around to it, they were booked up. So keep on that stuff, guys.
There are also petroglyphs scattered around the island. I didn’t see too many of them, because I honestly couldn’t be bothered clambering over large chunks of stone to get to them (I know, a terrible attitude for an art teacher to take). They are there, though, and you can learn more about them and other facets of the islands at
The Padre Sebastian Englert Museum. The good Padre was a Catholic missionary who lived (from what I could tell from the Spanish labels – I was much too lazy by that point to carry the English guide around with me) much of his life on the island and played a huge role in preserving artifacts and the native culture. And speaking of Catholics, they have a beautiful church here.
I probably like the look of this Catholic church more than any other I’ve seen. In spite of the fact that it’s clearly a Christian church, it integrates elements of Rapa Nui into its design, and it’s just a lot nicer to look at and has a warmer feel than most I’ve seen (even without the rainbow). At night it’s lit up and it makes a nice beacon in the very deep darkness of a small island alone at sea.
Also: it has Saint Birdman. I mean, come ON. I’m sure this is meant to be a representation of one of the traditional saints, but for the life of me I can’t figure out who. If, like me, you’re Mormon, there’s a place for you on Sundays, too.
This is probably the smallest branch I’ve ever attended, including the service branch we dropped in on in Pusan one weekend. They had two priesthood holders, and one was half of the senior missionary couple serving on the island. We talked for a while the night I went looking for them and the branch is actually much bigger, but…well, sometimes it’s hard to get there, and I know that as well as anybody. No matter how big or small the branch, the Spirit really is the same everywhere in the world.
You can also take your pick on how to get around the island. I took a four-wheeler out my second day (and knocked myself off it at one point but that is a story that will upset my mommy so I’m not going to give any more details than that), and a mountain bike on my third. That was fun, but hard work, and I’m basically a wuss when it comes to hills, so I walked up about as many as I rode. There are also horses you can ride, if you want to go for a lower environmental impact, and cars for rent, if you want to go higher. Whatever floats your boat…heck, you can probably even get ahold of one of those.
And finally, my second (a veeeeeery close second) favorite thing about Easter Island – the Kari Kari song-and-dance show. Oh. My. Gosh. What was that I said about it maybe getting old seeing strapping young men in practically nothing? Not possible. My action setting on my phone is, strangely enough, not as good as the one on my old camera, so I won’t bore you with a lot of half blurred shots here, but I put up one of the videos on facebook for you to check out if you don’t believe me. If I’d known it was going to be so good, I would have gone on Thursday night, as well. A lot of fun, great dancing, and gorgeous men (and women) – what more could you ask for?

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