Wow it's cold ! It had been such a long while we didn't have such temperature ! Bye turquoise blue lagoons, hello waves and wind and rocky shores. The Pascua island is magnificent, it is a complete change of scenery compared to the Leeward Islands of French Polynesia. The island isn't huge and we have fifteen days to enjoy it so we decide to workd on the Alterculteurs project first, it must be more than 3 months we haven't sent a newsletter ! Moreover, we catch a cold with such a temperature variation. So we spend days eating and working and losing time surfing the internet. It is as if we had fallen into a time hole. There seems to a little depression blowing on us after all this sun, the amazing meetings and the Polynesian warmth in every sense of the term. At least, we get forward with our articles and videos.
Still, we end up shaking ourselves up and the strong sea wind blowing from all parts invogorates us. Going for drinks on the sea shore, we select a nice looking bar. There I hear « Ariane ! » - no way, nobody knows us that well on the island ! In fact, it's Momo ! From Raiatea ! His big smile, his surfing attitude, his swag when he comes over to say hi, all of French Polynesia is suddenly here. He has back there a small airbnb in addition to his restuarant and we went several times at his place, notably when we needed last minute help because there were no more buses or it was too late to hitchhike a ride. He makes a mean chocolate cake and I have eaten at his place the best fried chicken of the whole island ! Momo ! And he is here, on the Pascua island, at some thousands of kilometers from Raiatea ! It is as if the small veil of depression that was shrouding us since we had left suddenly lifted !
The visit of the island is amazing. There really is a particular feeling on this island. Maybe it it the mana of the island which put us in our hole and then took us out of it, who knows. In any case, we go exploring. The Moais, these gigantic sculpted heads are everywhere. We ask ourselves all the questions that everyone seeing them asks oneself of course. It is great to imagine how and and why they made these statues and to discover the history of the island.
So many Moaïs of all sorts of sizes and types!
We go for dinner at a very atypical japanese restaurant. The setting is full on traditionnal japanese style and local products are cooked according japanese cuisine. Here, no sushi or noodles, we leave the exported japanese clichés at the door and a single menu (with some options) presented by the Chef. It is delicious ! We are feasting ! Our wallet much less so...
The island is full of horses running around freely as well as cow herds. We even encounter horses taking a stroll in the middle of the town, it is completely surreal to come across horses chewing on the green plant in front of the local bar in the evening. There is also an impressive dog population, hanging out in gangs or accompanying humans as well as a lot of cats that come running and miaowng as soon as they smell your cooking.
What you do when there is nice weather on Pascua Island
Or you visit this!
To venture a little further out on the island, we rent a motorcycle for two days, to Thomas' great pleasure as he gets to practice a bit again. It is a good way to visit the sites which are further out and enables us to admire the sunrise on the Moais. These are often aligned according to stars and seem to be looking towards the sunset which explains their sometimes weird orientations.
The enchanting landscapes of Pascua Island
We really wanted to see a traditional dance before leaving Polynesia - what an eye candy! And what a powerful and happy moment too!
We notice that the island is covered with rocks and stones. We even discover that the ancient Rapanui people used agricultural techniques based on this abundant ressource ! The Manavai for example are round structures made out of stone and dug into the ground. Their walls are high and thick. This stone circle helps to protect the plants inside from the wind and the grazing animals, creating as well as favorable micro-climate compared to the outside environment notably thanks to the accumulation of heat within those rocks which then emit back this heat during the night. Ingenuous ! There are also stone gardens, full of stones making a carpet over the soil and plants growing in between those, it has been nick-named « litomulching », litterally mulching with stones ! It uses the same concepts as it retains humidity, limits erosion and in addition even provides heat thanks to the thermic inertia of the rocks. We need to find someone to tell us about it ! Those are really nice concepts ! We find that there is a tree nursery which participates to the efforts lead to reforest the island. They nurse the trees and give them for free to locals so they can go plant them out or undertake missions to plant them into dedicated areas. There we ask around if someone could explain these ancient growing methods. A Rapanui woman accepts to talk to us, we'll have to come back another day when it will be les busy. On D day, she welcomes us with a small booklet which explains it all, this one isn't published anymore apparently, she gives it to us and follows with her explanations while visiting examples in the nursery. A really instructive visit ! When we leave Pascua Island we are far from from havong explored all its mysteries but we are also happy to get back into the saddle, off to Peru !