That evening we had a cocktail party with the crew, a lecture from our island experts, and then a presentation of traditional Rapa Nui Islander dances. It wasn’t easy to capture the movement.
The following morning there was a sunrise photo shoot at Tongariki, which I thought about doing but opted to pass because it meant getting up around 4:30! Those who went said it was disappointing because the light conditions didn’t cooperate. We appreciated the lazy morning, with only a quick trip to the local market. It was disappointing, as most vendor stalls were still closed and the vendor we dealt with was surly.
After yet another huge buffet lunch–do you sense a theme here?–we drove to the ceremonial village of Orongo, home of the Bird Man cult. The only Rapa Nui village built exclusively for religious uses, it represents the second stage of E. I. culture. Claudio was involved in the restoration here as well, in the mid–1970s. The Bird Man cult represented a change to a fertility cult. The bird man as seen in a petroglyph at the site was half bird, half man.
The ceremonial homes were built of slate and low to the ground, set into the hillside. Our hotel was modeled on this village.) Each year there was a competition amongst the tribes to see whose representative would be first to swim to a motu (islet) a mile away, find the egg of a sooty tern, swim back, climb a cliff, and bring an unbroken egg would be named Bird Man. He and his tribe ruled the ceremony for the next year. Here are a few of the houses. Note the small doors and low roofs.[I wish I could give you a link to the app that NG provides about each destination. It has great information and plenty of detail for anyone interested. Unfortunately (or fortunately for some of you!) I am unable to copy and paste from it.]
In the same area is the huge crater–2 kilometers in diameter–of the volcano Ranu Kau, which has been maintained in its natural state. It has many species of flora and fauna unique to this area. Villagers used to wash clothes in the crater’s water and also planted trees such as avocado on the crater’s sloping banks.
Now it’s time to leave this fascinating island for Samoa, a quick stop en route to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.