(Por Lorenzo Moscia) Rapa Nui, world known as Easter Island is part of Chile since 1888. Surface: 160 km2. Inhabitants: 3800. Distance from Chilean costs: 3500km.
Closer peopled point: Pitcairn Island, 46 inhabitants, at 2500 km towards west.
In November 1997 I made my first trip to Rapa Nui as a common tourist attracted by the mysterious and enigmatic statues: The Moai.
After 5 days I had enough of beautiful landscape, big craters, and arqueological sites, and I was ready to leave when I met a Rapa Nui`s men and his family: German Icka Pakarati, known on the island as “Cacho”.
I left the hostel in the village of Hanga Roa and accept his invitation of moving to his very modest house close to the Tahai complex where several Moai are giving their backs to the Pacific Ocean observing the Island.
I keep changing my flight ticket week over week, stop renting a motorbike and start knowing the island on the back of a horse.
With Cacho and his family we camp all over the island, while we where sleeping in caves and eating fresh fishes they where showing me a hidden island.
I get to know their most recent past which I completely ignore due to the fact that the Moai, the mystery and the beauty of the island monopolize the attention of a normal tourist.
I find out that on Easter Island people ménage to survive more than leaves.
After been “discovered” by the Occident on an Easter Sundays in 1722 for one century they where use as slaves in mines on Peru.
From 5000 they where reduce to 111.
The Easter Islanders lived enclosed within barbed wire fences on their own lend.
In 1895 Chile leased the island to the Frenchman Merlet, who transformed it into a sheep farm. Instead of putting barbwire around the sheep, Merlet found it easier to put barbwire around the islanders.
They were herded together in the town, losing all their rights over their own territory. Later on, the Williamson Balfour Company took over and founded the exploration Company of Easter Island where they continued the mismanagement of the island till 1953.
After 2 months on ’97 I hade to go back to my country for military obligations, but over the next 10 years I have been going back to Rapa Nui each time I could.
The following reportage is from my last trip.
Cacho leaves with her wife Vicki who is from Santiago. They have 5 children’s two of theme are studying in Viña del Mar very close to Santiago de Chile.
Cacho is dreaming of building a restaurant, but he doesn’t have enough money so he is recollecting as much as he can from the general rubbish dump in order to build his dream.