We are travelling through South America for a few month starting in Santiago, Chile heading south to Ushuaia on the Beagle Channel and then wandering north through Argentina via Patagonia, onto Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and return home via Easter Island. Our journal is separated by country and while each stands alone, they are part of one journey. Easter Island is a territory of Chile this isolated Island lies about halfway to Tahiti and is our last stop on the way home.
We fly from Quito on the Equator to Easter Island on the Tropic of Capricorn via Santiago Chile. Easter Island is 3,700 kilometres from the coast of Chile. There is only one small town and no public buses. We arrive in the midst of the annual two week festival. Not much happens in the mornings but later in the afternoon sporting events are held including triathlons involving banana trunk sledging down the sides of volcanoes. Each night there are three or four hours of cultural events and of course the craft exhibitions include stone carvings of Malcolm Fraser look-alikes.
Our guide Carlos proudly traces his native roots back eight generations and takes us on a great tour of the island and its icons. He shows us pictures of himself with the Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl. We take a photo of John gazing up at the same statue, recreating the famous photograph of Heyerdahl.
It seems the island’s now famous stone icons never really delivered the good fortune anticipated by the original sponsors. In 1955, the Thor Heyerdahl expedition made the statues, the island and himself famous. Now there are about 25,000 tourists a year and the icons are starting to deliver the benefits of their forefather’s efforts. There are about 1,000 of them scattered over the island, the restored ones stare enigmatically back at the visitors.