Exactly one year ago Joe & I were at Easter Island (Rapa Nui) in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Even though I am stuck at home, this week have just completed a virtual walk around that island
My virtual trek included the iconic image on the left. These ancient statues are called Moai (Mow Eye)
When seeing them in person the huge size of the figures is overwhelming.
We actually got up before sunrise to take a series of photos and returned later for different views
Note, we are nowhere near the Moai platform. This is just a matter of perspective
We observed the rules and did not violate any space sacred to the Rapa Nui people.
The path of my virtual walk with milestone markers is on the left, but during our one week visit on our own, we were able to see much more. There are Moai all over the island.
The Rapa Nui culture was almost completely destroyed during colonial invasions and the introduction of Christianity, but a revival late in the 20th century has resulted in a melding of both
The statues and exterior of this Catholic church in Hanga Roa, the main (and only) city on the island, exemplifies this. Mass was in both Spanish and the Rapa Nui language.
There are many more photos of our 2020 trip to this amazing place on my website (link at end)
Another milestone on my virtual walk was the Rano Kau volcano. It is very windy up here
There is a trail down to the interior lagoon of the crater with floating islands of totora reeds used even today to make native canoes
We chose this particular week in February to visit Rapa Nui for a very special reason.
It was the annual “Tapati Rapa Nui” festival – a 2 week celebration of the native culture.
There were daily special events – athletic competitions, artistic demonstrations and nightly entertainment – LOTS of dancing by all ages. The youngest was 4 years old.
The two main clans of the island each nominate a woman as leader of their team
The teams earn points by winning the various competitions (athletic, cultural & artistic)
The leader of the winning team is then crowned Queen
These women are getting ready for a 5k – local style. They must carry 25 pounds of bananas
No, I did not elect to participate. I remember how hard it was to run with 25 pounds of extra weight on my body. No thank you, even though these 25 pounds would be discarded at the finish line.
This was a relay race where you pass the bananas not a baton.
Remember those reeds from the volcano used for native canoes?
Here is a race in that kind of water craft
And an Olympic style winners’ ceremony
The most exciting competition (Haka Pei) is no longer “officially sanctioned” for safety reasons, but as the locals on the beach told us, it will happen anyway. So we grabbed a taxi and went to the interior of the island to stand at the base of an extinct volcano.
Haka Pei is an ancient competition of sliding down the side of the volcano at high speed on two banana tree trunks lashed together.
These are official photos. Spectators must watch from a distance for safety reasons.
Before the event a ceremonial “curanto” was prepared to honor the ancestors who practiced Haka Pei and bless those present. I recognized the Lord's prayer recited in Spanish - a merging of Christianity with Rapa Nui tradition. Food was prepared in a huge pit - All the food was free
Those who had not brought chairs, tents or eating utensils arranged branches on fallen trees
and were provided "dishes" of banana leaves
Not sure exactly what we ate, but it was delicious.
Some items will never be included in my nutrition tracker.
How can I be in 3 places at once? I am simultaneously doing a 2nd virtual walk. This time with other Spark Friends from London through Germany, Poland, the Baltic countries, Scandinavia to Lapland.
That one is 2500 miles long. It would take years on my own. Any journey is easier with friends.
If you have read this far, thank you for joining me on my journey.
More photos of our amazing week on Easter Island are on my website.
It includes our entire month in South America. Just scroll down the page for Easter Island.