21:00 - It's been a pretty amazing day. Nothing makes me happier than having a guide fill me with meaningful information! We went to Vaihu, Akahanga, Hanga Tetenga, Tongariki 15 restored Moai), Rano Raraku (the cave where the Moai were sculpted), Te Pito Kura and Anakena (6 pretty amazingly kept Moai still with their pukaos on - pukao is like a hat on top of the Moai but it represents his hair). Let me share some of my newly found knowledge gathered over the last couple if days (you'd think I'd have read up before coming, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise :-) ). Two different lots of people from polinesia arrived at different times on the island. The first lot were small and weak and didn't do anything (these were the guide's words - Daniela), the second lot were strong and smart. By the time the second lot got established, the island was split into 12 tribes and each had it's own 'government'. However, there was a king of the island which was chosen once a year and ruled over all of the tribes. The Moai represented important people in the tribes that died. They would be sculpted, erected on a platform looking in on the island (and not out at sea), so as to act as protectors of what was before them. The eye sockets would only be sculpted once the Moai was in place and the coral white eyes placed in there. This gave the statue it's 'mana' (power). At the cave (Rano Raraku) we saw some Moai that were broken during transportation. They would be abandoned and the work would start in making a new Moai. It would take 90 men about a year to produce an average sized Moai. Imagine how pleased they would be every time one broke whilst being transported!!!! This all went on for about 400 years or so until (it is believed) the trees on the island finished (and so the Moai could no longer be transported as they used to roll them on the wood) and/or the fighting between the tribes began. At that point the Moai were toppled over (it is believed that it was not a natural disaster but men that did the toppling). At around this time the birdman culture started. The ruler of the island was then chosen by a yearly competition. A representative of each tribe would have to swim about 1.4km to the bird island, gather an egg and swim back with the egg intact. Whoever completed the task first won on behalf of his clan and the head of the clan became the ruler of the island for a year. People lived in caves and/or houses of elliptical form (called nowadays boathouses). These houses were tiny. About 1.5 metres high and the entrance was a tiny corridor about 40cm high that you had to crawl through. This was to avoid animals entering mainly. Daniela's husband (the guide) is a Rapa Nui and his grandmother as a child has lived in the caves. Apparently they were still being used up until 1920. A few other facts: in 1862 a ship of peruvian slavers came by Easter Island and kidnapped 4000 Rapa Nuians (out of a population of roughly 8000). They took them to work in terrible conditions back on the mainland. All but 16 died in the end because of desease etc. The remaining 16 made it back to Easter Island and carried with them tubercolosis and small pox (up until then unknown on the island). In the space of eight years (by 1870) the population on Rapa Nui was reduced to 112 people. Yes 112... To this day there is an unwritten rule that a Rapa Nuian may not marry another Rapa Nuian. This is to avoid inbreeding. So there are a lot of mixed marriages (the majority with chileans). Currently there are about 5000 people living in Easter Island. Half are Rapa Nui people and the other half chileans. Crime is pretty low. No point in stealing a car on an island 4000 kilometres from anywhere and with only one town on it!!! Apparently the only crimes tend to be domestic violence or stealing of food and alcohol (so that the locals can have a party).
At the last stop to see the Moai with the pukaos, we were supposed to have an hour to spend on the beautiful beach but today's been drizzling on and off and I opted for souvenir shopping and trying a local empanada. And here, much like Darwin before me with his transmutation theories, I made a discovery of my own! Throughout south america you find empanadas. They all look pretty similar, vary slightly in size but their make up it's almost identical. The meat or chicken or veg mix is a meatball like consistency. So the whole thing is generally a bit stodgy to eat. And here comes eater island with an empanada that is giant in size, light and soft, and contains maybe a bit of cheese, some have ham etc. In appearance, it is more similar to a soft version of an italian 'chiacchiera' (but not sweet of course). There is a very bad picture of the one I had today but I will endeavor to take a better one tomorrow :-). When I got back my laundry was back in my room nice and clean. A bonus :-). Hopefully, this is the last wash before my coming home.
For dinner I wondered down the main street and stopped off at Kanahau. It is supposedly a restaurant come pub. Very ambience, it bode well that it was full of people and so I went in. Food was great and I got served quickly and it cost me half as much as my meal at Etu U 2 nights ago! I think this may be my choice for my last night here tomorrow!!! I was indeed pleased that they were quick as I wanted to avoid coming back in the dark. It is only a couple of blocks and there are no dangers but the dogs walking about and the little creatures if the night make me feel uneasy. I did have with me my trustworthy magic torch of course, just in case (grazie Nik).