Published: February 17th 2009February 17th 2009
So from Machu Pichu the trip continued to Easter Island, actually a part of Chile. Nobody wanted this island for quite a while until Chile finally said they would take it in an effort to shore up their naval capacity. The statues had been known for quite a while when a Dutch explorer discovered the island and its 100 or so, starving, weary, survivors.
The collapse of the society of Easter Island is quite a story. The short version is that around 1000 AD or so, people of Polynesian descent landed on the island (they were apparently extraordinary sailors) and found an island with fertile soil and thick forests. They soon set up shop and some 400 to 500 years after landing on the island, had built up a population of 25,000 or so. These Easter Islanders also proceeded to make huge statues (Moas). See the pics. These things weighed 50 tons or more. They would routinely haul them up to 10 miles! They used logs and ropes and a lot of pure grunt work. Apparently, aliens were not involved. Trust me, I asked several of our guides just to make sure. Aliens would have made for a better story,
but they assured me that this was just the work of many men over hundreds of years.
So the kicker is that all these statues required a lot of trees, for hauling mostly. They also used the trees to make canoes, firewood, housing and other things. Over the years, they began to use up their tree supply, until they used the very last tree. Whoops. They used all their trees and had no way to replenish them. They had no more boats and therefore no way to fish the big porpoise that had consisted of much of their diet. More importantly, they had no way to get off the island. Easter Island is more than 2000 miles away from the nearest inhabited land. They were essentially screwed. From there, it was a steady downward decline that included some cannibalism.
When the Europeans showed up, I'm not sure how they were greeted by the Islanders. Were they saviors? Were they feared? No telling. But what did happen is that the Europeans took some islanders as slaves and gave the rest smallpox. A fine how do you do. Despite this, the people managed to persist and 2/3 of the islands
current population of around 4000 inhabitants are descended from the original hundred found by the Europeans.
A word about the trip so far, the people are very nice. I thought I would be tending to rich babies, but with a few exceptions, these are very nice, fun loving people. There haven't been any medical emergencies so far, that is, from an ER doctors point of view. Some people think that a little vomiting may constitute an emergency, but it doesn't. It really doesn't! I did start an IV on someone, but it was more for his comfort and desire for a quicker turnaround from his bout with gastroenteritis than from a true medical need. So far so good. I am trying to keep everyone alive at least until they get to see the Taj Mahal!
There are more photos below