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Latitude: S 27.14295
Longitude: W 109.42414
The hard part for me on this leg of the trip has been the complete lack of mental stimulation. Very limited access to the internet, nothing whatsoever to read, no ability to talk to anyone in English, no TV, no radio . I have my computer in my room but its not connected. I have a ton of music with me, I can write blog posts, and I have been working on playing chess: the only game that comes pre installed on the Mac. (I think I’ve been learning pretty quick. I haven’t played in years, but some pretty embarrassing losses to the computer will get you up to speed in no time.)
I did rent a car today. The island is small, but not so small you could reasonably hike around it. I haven’t driven a stick in years, so it took a few minutes to get back into practice. It has been raining on and off since I’ve been here so I just did a lap around the island in the afternoon and got a few photos/clips when it wasn’t raining. This even after I had dinner, the skies suddenly seemed to clear up. There is little civilization here and given its location in the ocean, there is as close to zero light pollution as you will find anywhere on Earth. I can recognize few constellations however because I’m in the southern hemisphere.
The village of Hanga Roa is quaint to say the least. They have a church, school, etc. just like any small village has. Almost every building in town appears to be either a restaurant, souvenir shop, car rental, or guest house. I have literally seen only a handful of houses or storefronts that do not deal directly with tourism. I have read that the island gets 25% of its income from tourism. I have a hard time believing its that low. There must be transfer payments or ranching/farming from non-residents that is included to get that number. Everything here seems oriented around tourism. (the population of the island is about 3,500 and there are only 40,000 tourists a year that visit Easter Island.)
The island seems to have one leg in Polynesia and one in Latin America. Most of the residents are of polynesian origin, but a few are clearly from the mainland (aka, they’re white). Most signs are in Spanish, but some are in the local language and I have heard some people talk in what is definitely “not Spanish”. The signs in the bank were in Spanish, English, and Rapa Nui.
I’d say half of the tourists seem to be from Latin America, probably Chile. The other half are mostly from the US/UK with a few Japanese, French (from Tahiti), and “other” Europe. I encountered one guy the last two days at two separate maoi locations. He was Japanese with an older film camera and a tripod. He had the patience of Job. He sat with his camera pointed at one statue for the entire time I was there (about an hour). I don’t know if he ever took a photo. I think he was waiting for the clouds and the light to get just right.
My previous remark about the island being cheap should be stricken from the record. Its not. Not for Americans at least. I’m beginning to feel how much the dollar has gone down on this trip. I’m tempted to move a bunch of money into a foreign bank so I can hold it in Euros, just to avoid any further falls in the dollar.
If possible, someone please send me a recap of this week’s Heroes or a link where I can get episode recaps. I can’t get the viewer to work on the NBC web site.