We got up long before dawn to go to the airport for the flight to Easter Island. Luis warned us that punctuality and the value we place on time is an alien concept here. Before we even left Santiago, he was proved right. The check in lines for LAN, the national carrier were huge and the lines for security equally so, but no need to worry. The flight was an hour late; no explanation given. Then we flew six long hours to the island, supposedly the most remote inhabited spot in the world. I thought they belong to Chile because of some long ago power grab, but Chile is its closest "neighbor." Since the island is so solitary, sailors would stop by to rape and pillage and the locals could not defend themselves. Even after the Chileans took them on, they got into a war with Argentina and the neglect continued.
The airport has a huge runway, built with your tax dollars. It was an emergency landing spot as the space shuttle was being built. We also "sold" them two military generators after the Vietnam Nam War, which they are using as a main power source and it saved us the trouble of bringing them home. Our bus stopped for gas at the only station on the island. Next station 2,200 miles away. The station was also a mini mart and was full of immaculate freezers. First I thought the freezers were for sale, but signs on top showed what should have been inside. All sold out and waiting for a delivery who knows when. Our plane brought pallets of toilet paper, so that need should be met for a while.
Easter Island was given its name by a Dutch explorer who found it on Easter. That has little meaning today, but it's easier to pronounce than Rapa Nui which is its rightful Polynesian name. About 7,000 people live here today; Chileans and Polynesians are the main cultural groups. The ruling families and priests developed their own writing in the 1770's, but since it had no influences from the outside world, no one knows how to read it today, even though many samples exist carved into stone. Perhaps they should have shared the knowledge more widely. The writings left behind on wooden tablets are read left to right; then the tablet is flipped around and the second line is read left to right. That is what's known for sure.
Since getting here took most of the day, we only had time to visit the stone houses, which had thatched roofs over stone walls. Not much left to see. Because the island is volcanic and laced with caves, many people lived in those. It seems that at times the stone houses were used for burial sites and for living at others. We'll see the cool stuff tomorrow.