Rapa Nui – Easter Island

Some two million years ago, certain great depth-wise geological changes and volcano eruptions generated the emergence of a new shore. Some 4000 km east of the Chilean coast and 4200 km West of Tahiti, lost in the Pacific Ocean , there lays a mysterious island, the farthest and most isolated on the planet. Its name, Rapa Nui , means in the language of the natives, “the navel of the world”.

The archeological testimonies show that it was discovered some time in the 300 a.d. by the Polynesians, who were to make a tradition of monumental sculpture. They would raise for centuries gigantic statues – Moai, established into sanctuaries – Ahu.

The Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen is the first European to have set foot on this triangle shaped shore, on Easter day in 1722, the reason why he called it the Easter Island . In 1888 it was added to the Chilean territory.

As of 1995, the Rapa Nui National Park has been included in the World Cultural Patrimony, and keeps fascinating people all over the world by the unique spiritual phenomenon it encloses, representing a scientific interest objective sooner that a tourist one.

The statues, called Moai, are scattered all over the island and grouped in random numbers in settings bearing the name Ahu (sacred place). Among the numerous Ahu, the most important are: Ahu Tongariki (the largest), Ahu Akivi (the only statue facing towards the ocean), Ahu Nau-Nau, Ahu Vinapu and Ahu Tahai. The two volcano quarries, Ranoraku and Puna Pau, are the source of material for the statues; the latter contains red colored stone of which the megaliths’ “hats” are made.

We asked our guide, Enrique, what was his opinion on the building of those impressive statues and got a spontaneous reply: “You wouldn’t imagine it was the extraterrestrials, would you? My ancestors built them, who else?” This simple and sharp answer does not, however, clear up the past which is still an enigma. Too few answers to too many questions.