It is my third day here on Easter Island, and I am drawn out of bed early: At exactly 05.30 a.m., my sleepy gaze meets the shiny morning stars of the “Great Waka”, or Great Canoe, as the Maori people in New Zealand call the “Belt of Orion”. I look up into the clear sky with a happy sigh: Soon, I shall be there again, in the “Land Of The Long White Cloud”, Aotearoa New Zealand! Oh, New Zealand … A knock on the door pulls me back into the present, Lorena & Washington, my new friends & next-door-neighbours gently asking: “Elena, are you awake and ready to leave?” After all, we have a date: Watching the sunrise by the Moai here on Easter Island!
As we reach the 15 Tongariki Moai we have visited the day before, clouds appear on the horizon, but the early morning peace & stillness impose their magic upon us nonetheless. An event truly worth getting out of bed for!
Travelling from the highest to the lowest point on Easter Island: Whistling volcanoes & windy cave ways welcome us to utter silence. …
… Is there really such a thing as “absolute silence“? Yes, my dear readers. There is. I swear. And I will swear that I have never experienced anything quite like it before. It is. Simply. Absolutely. Quiet. Out here. Some 10 metres below the ground, I may still see some light through the cracks in the cave ceiling above me, but only guess at the wind from the passing clouds. There is no (other) sound. So what do you hear when all else fades away, including the gentle breeze, birdsong or else?
Here on Easter Island, utter silence forces you to listen to … yourself. The beat of your own heart, and the very humming of your own thoughts! Seriously. I have never “listened to myself, being so alive” before.!
The evening finally serves me a conflicting contradiction: Tera’ai Dinner & Show, something I normally avoid as the “staging of culture” – a far cry from authentic culture experiences on Easter Island.?
Yes and no. Based on my experience, I am tempted to say both. Of course, the single talks with the local people around the island would offer me a higher degree of authenticity and direct, unmediated cultural experiences. On the other hand, the effort and input of the people I meet that night is also genuine and heartfelt. Kia, who leads us through the evening of dance, song, cooking & music at the cultural centre Tera’ai, openly says:” What we can offer you tonight is time. Time that you take in coming here and your interest that allows us to revive and sustain our cultural traditions in the form of traditional Earth ovens, dance & song. My seven-year-old son here for instance is happiest learning new traditional rhythms and steps. He is very motivated by the exchange and appreciation of visitors from all over the world.”
Of course, there is no denying the fact that we are facing an environment of commercialisation of traditional Rapa Nui culture. However, one must also say that there is an element of trust, openness and sharing in all the explanations and dealings of the Rapa Nui we meet. And finally, experiencing a typical Easter Island dance makes me “step back in” into being the creative traveller I normally am, becoming part of the action & cultural understanding rather than just watching & observing …! 😀
For even more magic from Easter Island, head on over to my Flickr Photo Gallery here:
I have also written & published the following stories about Easter Island:
- Dream Destination Diaries: “Sweet Sandy Beaches & Mystical Moai Meditations on Easter Island“
- Dream Destination Diaries: “Exploring Past & Present on Rapa Nui, Easter Island“
- Dream Destination Diaries: “Enchanting Easter Island“
Hope you enjoy! 🙂