Easter Island life gets modern – internet access improved

By Marcus Edensky

Satellite in outer space

All Easter Island communication goes through a satellite in outer space orbiting earth.

Being the most remote location in the world, the tiny island of Easter Island naturally doesn’t have the same access to modern comfort as the rest of the world. All our internet access goes through a satellite dish that communicates with a satellite in outer space. In total, the island shares 25 Mbit/s, which is around the same as each house in a well-developed country commonly has. This means that internet is painfully slow; especially since Easter Island locals use internet more and more each day. In the near future, this will change.

Entel PCS, which is the only company that offers telephone and internet services to the public at Easter Island, will towards the end of April this year buy 50 Mbit/s more bandwidth from the same satellite that’s currently in use. This means that our internet will instead of 25 Mbit/s have 75 Mbit/s, or three times the current speed.

Rapa Nui girls dancing traditional Easter Island dance

Rapa Nui has a unique, fragile culture that may easily disappear in a modern world.

Towards the end of the year, we have another even bigger improvement to look forward to. The current satellite dish is fixed, which means that it’s pointing towards a satellite that’s rotating around earth at the same speed as the earth spins, so the satellite is always fixed in the same position relative to earth. Chile has recently granted Entel PCS funding for a project to install three additional satellite dishes of smaller size, but they are not fixed as the current one. They will point towards satellites that are rotating in an orbit closer to earth, which improves the signal. They are not moving at the same speed as earth, so the satellite dishes will continuously follow them. When one satellite disappears out of sight, the satellite dishes will pinpoint the next one. This will come in effect in the end of 2014, and when it does, it will permit us to have further 100 Mbit/s.

Satellite dish at Easter Island

Current fixed satellite dish at Easter Island.

Using this same technique we will, according to the plan of Entel PCS and the Chilean government, obtain an additional 100 Mbit/s at the end of 2015. This means that we then will have in total 275 Mbit/s instead of the current 25 Mbit/s – eleven times the current speed!

Life is getting more modern every day at Easter Island. Everyone want the extra comfort that it brings. But, does it come with a price? Does it ruin the small-town charm and ancient magic this island has? Please share your opinions and thoughts below!

By Marcus Edensky

“Easter Island heads have bodies” – old news go polemic world-wide

By Marcus Edensky

Moai statue excavation in Rano Raraku by Jo Anne Van Tilburg

Moai statue excavation.

Moais buried in the ground of statue quarry Rano Raraku.

Moais buried in the ground of statue quarry Rano Raraku.

A while back, polemic news were spread world-wide of a recent discovery that “Easter Island heads have bodies”. In 2010, American archaeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg excavated a statue and exposed its body that was buried in the ground. Photos of this were spread all over internet, accompanied with the “breaking news” of this discovery.

15 moai statues of Ahu Tongariki

All the moai statues that have reached the final destination of their ahu platform have bodies fully visible.S

Though, we have known this for hundreds of years.

Many have seen photos of the moai statue quarry Rano Raraku, the “factory” where they were all made.

1786 drawing of moai statue from La Perouse expidition

Moai statues having bodies has been known to the outside world since the 1700′s.

During a stage of construction, the statues were tilted into pits in the ground to raise them. Over centuries, soil has filled up these pits, and we end up seeing only the head sticking out of the ground. Truth is that every statue has a full length body.

When Jacob Roggeveen reached Easter Island in 1722 he saw how statues with full length bodies were standing along the coast. This has been known ever since.

Massive earthquake threatens Easter Island with tsunami

By Marcus Edensky

In the evening of the 1st of April 2014, nature surprised Chile with something far from the common April fool’s practical joke – a massive earthquake of 8.2 on the Richter scale. As always happens in these events, friends and family called Rapa Nui (Easter Island) locals instantly for us to be ready, in case of a tsunami.

Local Rapa Nui police blocked and evacuated the areas close to the ocean. A small propeller plane together with the navy cooperated to get any fishermen out of the water.

Tsunami entering Easter Island in the moai statue quarry of Rano Raraku.

Luckily, this is a sight we have yet to see.

Luckily, no wave hit us this time. The ocean retracted slightly, and then returned.

One must not take these things lightly when living close to a country with as high seismic activity as Chile. In the 2010 earthquake in Chile, 8.8 on the Richter scale, the wave also missed us, but other Chilean islands were not so lucky – Juan Fernández Islands (where Alexander Salkirk was marooned, inspiring to the story of Robinson Crusoe). 4 deaths and 7 people missing was reported at this island as a result.

The only time a tsunami has has been recorded to reach Easter Island and cause damage was in 1960. Again, the wave originated from Chile, and was caused by the biggest earthquake ever recorded anywhere in the world – 9.5 on the Richter scale. This scale is an logarithmic one, which means that between every step (for example 8.5 to 9.5) the difference is tenfold. The country of Chile was ripped apart and thousands died. At Rapa Nui the biggest ahu, Ahu Tongariki, was destroyed. The moai statues had fallen long ago, but the rock wall was intact prior to the tsunami. The wave pushed the statues further inland and knocked down the monument. There were no casualties.

Such are the risks of living in the Pacific Ocean close to Chile. Luckily, it’s a far way for any Chilean tsunami to travel to get here, which gives us sufficient time to be prepared for its arrival.

Theft changes Rapa Nui national park ticket rules

CONAF, the ChileConaf logoan institution that manages Rapa Nui National Park (along with all other national parks in Chile) now report that they will be changing the way park entrance tickets at Rapa Nui are sold.

They will no longer be available for sale at the two sites where they are required – Orongo and Rano Raraku. Starting from April 2013, they will only be sold when arriving at the airport and at the CONAF office at Mataveri, by the foot of volcano Rano Ka

Man stepping on moai sign

CONAF park rangers make sure people don’t damage the archaeology of Rapa Nui.


Up until now, CONAF park rangers have been selling the tickets as well as making sure visitors bring them. CONAF claims that ticket sale isn’t part of their job, which would be the reason for this change. This vague excuse is probably not the whole truth. The real reason would more likely be the disappearence (e.g. thefts) of the ticket income, which has been known to occur.

Tapati Rapa Nui 2013 – a new kind of Tapati

Official poster of Tapati Rapa Nui 2013

Official poster of Tapati Rapa Nui 2013

The Tapati Rapa Nui 2013 will be considerably different from the earlier ones. Normally, two queen candidates have their families fight for their representative to be crowned queen. This year, we will have only one queen candidate. Seven men will fight during the two week long festival for the honor of standing at her side at the end of this Tapati Rapa Nui. Families and friends will still support these men, but more focus will be put on their personal achievements than that of the queen candidates the earlier years. The men will be called hopu manu, relating to the traditions of the taŋata manu (birdman) competitions held at Orongo two hundred years ago.

Official program of Tapati Rapa Nui 2013

2nd – 15th of February

Mahana o Hetu’u Pū
Day of February
Te ‘a’ati, te koro nui
Mahana Hopu, 2Saturday, 2nd Haŋa Vare-Vare 21:00 He mātaki te hare māukuOpening ceremony of grass houses
Haŋa Vare-Vare 21:45 He mātaki te Tapati Rapa Nui 2013Opening ceremony of Tapati Rapa Nui 2013

He haka rarama te ‘oriArtistic presentation

He haka rarama te ukaUka presentation

He haka rarama te hopu manuHopu manu presentation

He vānaŋa te uka ‘ariki 2012Speech tapati queen 2012

He vānaŋa te hōnuiSpeech mayor

He haka rarama te ‘oriArtistic presentation

He mao te koro nuiDay closure

Mahana Tapati, 3Sunday, 3rd Haŋa Vare-Vare 09:00 He pure o te Tapati Rapa NuiOfficial Tapati Rapa Nui prayer
Rano Raraku 14:00 He tau’a rapa nui pa’ariRapa Nui triathlon, adults

He tau’a rapa nui taŋata ‘āpīRapa Nui triathlon, young

He kau pora ŋā vi’eSwimming with pora, women and uka

Ahu Toŋariki 21:45 He riu tuaiAncient chants

He tātū pa’ariBody painting, adults

He tātū taŋata ‘āpīBody painting, young

He tātū ukaBody painting, uka

Mahana Monirē, 4Monday, 4th Haŋa Vare-Vare 12:30 He tarai mōaiCarving moai

He tarai ‘aoCarving ‘ao

He hatu pēueCrafting traditional mat

Haŋa Vare-Vare 14:30 He tiŋi-tiŋi mahuteCrafting mahute cloth

He tiŋi-tŋi mahute ukaCrafting mahute cloth, uka

Haŋa Roa o Tai 17:30 He ‘a’ati kauSwimming
Municipality 20:00 Counting points
Haŋa Vare-Vare 21:45 He haka rarama te nu’u ‘oriArtistic presentation, groups
Mahana Piti, 5Tuesday, 5th Haŋa Vare-Vare 12:30 He tarai roŋo-roŋoCarving rongo-rongo
Haŋa Vare-Vare 13:30 He tarai maŋaiCarving fish hooks

He hatu moeŋa, ukaCrafting moenga, uka

Haŋa Vare-Vare 14:30 He tui korone pipiCrafting shell necklaces

He tui korone pipi ukaCrafting shell necklaces, uka

Haŋa Vare-Vare 21:45 He ‘ori hopu manuHopu manu dance

He ‘ori tango o te ukaTango dance, uka

He ‘a’ati haka taŋi ‘upa-’upaPresentation accordion

He ‘a’ati ‘ori o te ukaDance, uka

He haka rarama te ‘oriArtistic dance presentation

Mahana Toru, 6Wednesday, 6th Haŋa Vare-Vare 12:30 He tarai papa ronaCarving papa rona

He tarai paoaCarving paoa

He ‘a’ati aŋa kahuCrafting traditional clothing

He paru mahutePainting mahute

Municipality 18:00 Counting points
Haŋa Vare-Vare 21:45 He haka rarama te kahu o te ukaPresentation uka clothes

He ‘a’ati ‘ori tangoRapa nui tango

He ‘ori te ukaHopu manu and uka dance

He haka rarama te nu’u ‘oriArtistic group presentation

Mahana Maha, 7Thursday, 7th Vaihū 10:00 He ‘a’ati hoiHorse race
Vaihū 15:00 He hī pa’ariFishing, adults

He mata oruSubmarine fishing

He hī kauFishing while swimming

Haŋa Vare-Vare 21:45 He haka rarama te kahu o te ukaPresentation uka clothes

He ‘a’ati ‘ori tangoRapa nui tango

He ‘a’ati haka taŋi ukurereUkulele competition

He haka rarama te ‘oriArtistic dance presentation

Mahana Pae, 8Friday, 8th Ahu Kopeka Ta’e ‘Ati 12:30 He haka rarama te kai ha’a'apuAgricultural exposition

He tui korone tiare o te ukaCrafting flower necklaces, uka

Pea 16:00 Haka ŋaruBodysurf with board

Haka honuBodysurf without board

Municipality 19:00 Counting points
Haŋa Vare-Vare 21:45 He koro haka opoAncient chants challenge
Mahana Hopu, 9Saturday, 9th Haŋa Vare-Vare 12:30 He tunu kaiGastronomy

He tunu kai o te ukaGastronomy, uka

He tunu kai o te hopu manuGastronomy, hopu manu

Haŋa Roa o Tai 17:30 He ‘a’ati hoe vakaCanoe competition
Tahai 21:45 He ‘ūtēAncient chants ‘ūtē

He kai-kai o te pa’ariHe kai-kai story telling, elders

He kai-kai o te taŋata ‘āpīHe kai-kai story telling, men

He kai-kai o te ŋā ukaHe kai-kai story telling, women

Mahana Tapati, 10Saturday, 10th Vaitea 12:30 He akaveŋaRace with weights
Mauŋa Pu’i 13:30 He ‘umu mo te mahiŋoFood giveaway
Mauŋa Pu’i 15:00 He tautaŋaSpear throwing
Mauŋa Pu’i 18:00 He haka peiRace on banana trunks down the hill
Haŋa Vare-Vare 21:45 He haka rarama te nu’u ‘oriArtistic presentation, groups
Mahana Monirē, 11Monday, 11th Haŋa Roa o Tai 16:00 He ‘a’ati hoe vaka ŋa’atuRace with totora canoe
Mahana Piti, 12Tuesday, 12th Haŋa Roa o Tai 16:00 He ‘a’ati e ruaDuathlon
All harbors 18:00 He e’a te vaka hī ikaFishing boats start-off
Haŋa Vare-Vare 21:45 He hīmene ‘āpīNew songs

He ‘a’ati ‘ori tangoTango rapa nui competition

He haka rarama te ‘oriArtistic dance presentation

Mahana Toru, 13Wednesday, 13th Anakena 08:00 He hāito te ika o te vaka hī ikaWeighing catch from fishing boats
Anakena 12:30 He tunu ‘ahiBarbaque giveaway
Anakena 14:30 He haka rarama te ‘ori o te ŋā pokiArtistic dance presentation, children
Mahana Maha, 14Thursday, 14th Atamu Tekena 19:00 He ŋoŋoro nari-nariParade
Haŋa Vare-Vare 22:45 He haka rarama te ‘oriArtistic dance presentation
Mahana Pae, 15Friday, 15th Municipality 10:00 Announcements conference
Haŋa Roa o Tai 15:00 He hoe vakaPolynesian canoes
Haŋa Vare-Vare 22:00 He haka mao te TapatiTapati ending ceremony

He haka rarama te ‘oriArtistic dance presentation

He vānaŋa, he ‘ori te ‘arikiSpeech and dance by queen

He vānaŋa te tāvanaSpeech by mayor

He haka hei i te ‘aitoCrowning of the uka

He haka rarama te ‘oriArtistic dance presentation

He oti, he puru te Tapati Rapa Nui 2013Ending of Tapati Rapa Nui 2013

A different kind of art

Hotel Hanga Roa - an exclusive accommodation alternative at Easter IslandI was contacted the other day by a gentleman called Mr. Timothy Williams who wished for me to book a two week prepaid vacation package for him and his family with hotel and tours included. Mr. Williams was formal and very polite, as well as fairly well-situated, since renting three rooms at an exclusive hotel at Easter Island is quite costly.

The customer found my offered price satisfactory. It struck me as rather careless of him though when he sent me the credit card details by e-mail, his address, as well as a scan of his passport, before giving me a chance to send him the payment link. He looked like a very likeable guy in the passport, although a bit too naive for his own good. You never know if the person sitting on the other side of the computer is as likeable as Mr. Williams himself.

Sunrise at Rano Raraku - the volcano quarry where the moai statues were carved, at Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Sunrise at Rano Raraku – the volcanic quarry where virtuall all of the moai statues were carved.

It turned out neither of the two VISA cards he had sent me worked. One had the wrong credit card number and the other incorrect CVV-code according to our payment service provider.

I called Mr. Williams to sort out the problem, but there was no response. It seemed he and his family had already left for his trip while waiting for my confirmation of his stay at Easter Island. This would explain why he sent me the credit card details. Still being a reckless action, perhaps he knew he would be somewhere without internet access to complete the payment himself. I sent him an e-mail instead, letting him know how the transaction hadn’t completed and gave him links through which to pay.

Two days later I received an e-mail response from Mr. Williams. He apologized for giving me wrong card info, writing that he had spoken to his banker and then sent me two new credit cards – this time two MasterCard cards. He didn’t even mention the payment link I had sent him.

Blocked credit card with chains and lockWhen trying to charge these cards, both gave me the same message – they had been blocked. This was very strange and suspicious. One should be well aware that one’s cards are blocked, since they can only be blocked by the owner himself.

Giving this person the benefit of a doubt, being a potential customer, I wrote to him about the outcome, pointing out that he should better try completing the transaction himself through the payment link. He responded shortly, sending me two new cards which he told me to charge instead.

That night I told my wife: “This guy is a thief. I cannot seem to understand what he gains from making me charge these cards… but I know it – he’s a thief!”

I took action the next day, calling the local police station of the area in the country where the real Mr. Timothy Williams lived, as well as making my web host company and Google (the thief used a Google e-mail account) track this guy to report to the local police station in the area where he’s from.

I was sure he was a thief, but I didn’t understand why he wanted me to charge these robbed cards. That’s what he should be doing himself. What could he possibly gain from this?

A while later I understood the mystery behind his dark, cunning plan.

I would receive the payment and send the money to the corresponding hotel. He would then call the booked hotel, claim that he was Mr. Timothy Williams, say that he was robbed of his credit cards and ask the hotel to send him back his money. In the end, the one who would look like the thief in this drama would be me, since I would have been the one to charge the credit cards. Luckily, the real Mr. Timothy Williams was quick enough to block his cards first.

There are masterminds not only on the good side. They are called con artists, because it truly is like an art how they scheme plans of how to in the end make you look like the bad guy… and I was walking right into the trap.

3D image of credit card stealing thief