The museum in Rapa Nui welcomes you with the following message: ‘No museum could recreate physically everything that happened in Rapa Nui. Therefore, your imagination is needed to complete our vision of the development of this society’.
There are more questions than answers in Rapa Nui, so the better your imagination, the more you’ll enjoy the experience.
Much of the islands traditional and historical knowledge was lost due to a huge decline in population in just over a century. A combination of factors including extensive deforestation and overuse of the islands natural resources, disease from visiting European sailors and Peruvian slave trading saw the islands population go from 15,000 to just 111 by the end of 1877.
While the history since hasn’t been smooth sailing, the population is now around 6,000 (although I wasn’t able to find any information about how many native islanders remain).
As with Antarctica, we worried about our impact on the island. With over 10,000 visitors a year and a rising population, Easter Island doesn’t have the infrastructure to cope with the numbers. For example waste management is one of their biggest problems as there is nowhere to put the rubbish on such a small island. This interesting BBC article called Trouble in Paradise was published just a few days before we went to the island and talks more about the problems Easter Island faces today.
It’s a fascinating place to visit with its unique history, and we left feeling as if we had experienced part of something special. Although we were glad we visited while already in South America, as I’m not sure it’s worth the trip from further afield.
That’s all folks from Rapa Nui. We’ll leave you with some final sunset pictures.