Easter Island (proper name is Isla de Pascua) is actually called Easter Island as the island was discovered by a modern (Dutch) seafarer (Captain Rogovan) on Easter. Currently, only 6,000 people live on the island and it is visited by 60,000 tourists every year. 10% of them come from the 6 cruise ships that stop every year.
We were invaded by the Germans today…
Our guide was a direct decedents of the tribes (Rapa Nui) and his grandmother actually lived in a cave 100 years ago when the conditions of the island were very tough and a ship with supplies only arrived once per year.
It is limited by the limited number of flights (approximately 12) each week which is also the primary source of food and supplies for the residents. Food and gasoline can be very expensive, but the positive is the residents do not have to pay and taxes to the Chilean government. Very similar situation to the arrangement Puerto Rico has with the United States.
The history of the statues is quite interesting. They were built to represent the elders or leaders of each village and face inward toward the stone foundation based homes that were actually shaped like upside down ships. Their style and size evolved slightly over time to represent stronger and more powerful leadership.
Near the modern village…
The most modern statues had the red colored lava placed on top to represent their hair. These were excavated out of different quarries than the quarries the statues were carved out of.
The red lava quarry…
Unfortunately, by the mid 1800s, a French explorer found only one statute remained standing. It is not clear what caused all the statues to fall. Was it an earthquake? Tsunami? Civil war and conflict between the villages? Nobody is sure, but most, if not all statues were recovered and reconstructed by companies that donate people, technology and money to recreate the historical experience.
There were actually one set of seven statues that faced the sea and these are thought to represent the seven sailors that found this island for the Rapa Nui and established the colony. 7 statues And, yes, there is a beach for people who like to swim or have a picnic near a monument of statues with red lava hair on top. We relaxed under the shade of a palm tree and read for the afternoon. 😊
You will also want to see the additional exploration in the next Easter Island blog post I did later in the week.