Tác giả Chủ đề: Skullduggery On Easter Island (Half II Of II)  (Đã xem 5 lần)

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Skullduggery On Easter Island (Half II Of II)
« vào: 10. Tháng Tám 2018, 21:23:18 »
That is the second installment in a two-half collection. Read half one here.

I continue up the barren coast a short distance, and stop at a bluff to look at the sea fling veils of water 100 feet into the air. At this assembly of rock, sea and sky -- mass, energy, and light -- I am sufficiently sated to show inland, and stitch in the direction of greater ground. My horse, inaptly named Pegasus, brings me to the bottom of Ahu Tepeu, a magnificent beetle-browed statue crowned with a red stone headdress weighing eleven tons. The achievement of donning this fellow's hat must be in contrast with placing a man on the moon today. The best of origin theories notwithstanding, the erectors possible had little wood at their disposal, and limited manpower; but the statue stands, proud in his haberdashery, lips peculiarly pursed, eyes blind, mouth in solemn silence, yet someway alive in the deadness of stone.


Ahu Tepeu faces inland, as do virtually all the statues. A preferred idea is that the statues had been created to symbolize important individuals who had died. The power of the deceased was thought to be transmitted to descendants through the eyes of moai. Thus, all of the statues originally faced the middle of the island, towards villages. As I guide Pegasus behind the statue whereas gaping at the huge hat, he instantly rears and whinnies, virtually tossing me to the dirt. Trying up, I see the source of his fright -- from this vantage it appears the statue is toppling over towards us, an illusion that matches the spooky nature of the place.


For the following few hours the journey yields nothing, save stark vistas, a rough pitch-stone terrain, and wild horses. The island is fully volcanic, with three main cones forming the factors of a triangle. As I zigzagg northwards I discover myself ascending the talus slopes of the island's highest peak, the extinct Volcan Aroi, 1400 toes above the sea. Halfway up an incongruous grove of banana bushes circumscribes a rock outcropping. I dismount to research.


There's a cave beneath the huge leaves. I poke my head inside, and look ahead to eyes to regulate. There seems to be a skull with horns, perhaps of a ram, not far inside.


A boulder blocks the entrance, but with my back into it I'm capable of roll it apart. A shaft of gentle strikes the horned skull, and sends a shiver by means of me.


I decrease myself into the grotto feet first, kicking aside a latticework of spider webs. Inside, I squirm to my knees, and crawl by the damp, black velvet of darkness to the skull, which is lit by a pinpoint of sunlight. Next to it, in the half light, I can make our two extra skulls. I reach to pull one nearer, then coil back like a snake-bitten dog.


They are two human skulls. I bring them to the floor to photograph, and see that each has a pen-sized holed in one side of the top, and a jagged, gaping grapefruit-sized hole on the other. Forensics is hardly my forte, but the marks appear like bullet holes to me. What chilling stories would these heads inform if they could communicate? Murder? Accident? Cannibalism? Double suicide? How old were they? One year, one hundred? Did they know the riddles of the islands?
Later, back in Hanga Roa, I communicate with Claudio Cristino, an archeologist from the University of Chile, who spent years studying and mapping the island's hundreds of archeological sites.
"These caves are sepulchers, burial chambers for the victims of smallpox again in the mid-1800s," he tells me.


Claudio agrees with Professors Flenley and King that Easter Island at its top supported 15,000 individuals, a bustling South Pacific station. When Captain Cook arrived he discovered solely 600 males and fewer than 30 ladies eking out existences on an island with solely stunted mulberries and tiny mimosas for bushes. "On your entire floor of the island, there just isn't a tree that deserves being known as that," wrote naturalist George Forster, who accompanied Captain Cook. If the ecological devastation idea holds, a lot of the inhabitants loss was the result of forest obliteration more than 600 years before Cooks' landing. But things received worse. Within the early nineteenth century Peruvian expeditioneers, in search of low-cost labor, abducted Easter Islanders as slaves, and introduced smallpox (which had been earlier gifted to South America by the Spanish Conquistadors), consumption, and venereal diseases to those remaining. By the mid-19th century the island's population was decimated. At its ebb, in the 1870s, there were just 111 inhabitants. At present the inhabitants is around 5,000, and the place nonetheless appears underpopulated.


After my skullduggery on the cave I spur Pegasus onward and upwards. I come to a simple farmhouse, an island of life on the desolate volcanic slope, the place a darkish, disheveled figure steps out to meet me. As he steps from the shadow of the mountain I can see that that left aspect of the farmer's face is contorted in bizarre strains, with lip and eye drooping like melted butter. He is a leper, certainly one of about 30 on Easter Island, and his illness had paralyzed and disfigured his face. Now he lives in isolation on the world's most isolated isle.


When Chilean navigator Captain Policarpo Toro negotiated to switch Easter Island to Chilean sovereignty in 1888, he brought with him a number of islanders who had been living in Tahiti. Missionary information indicate that one passenger was visibly sick with leprosy, already showing some limb paralysis. He was the first.


The disease spread shortly, and a decade later a leper colony was built not far from this farmhouse to isolate the sufferers. By the 1940s, forty islanders had the illness. Then, with the island-large vaccinations in the 60s and 70s, the disease was eventually officially eradicated. Now the final of the lepers have staked out homesteads within the far corners of the islands, such because the one here on the side of the volcano.


We nod and try to change salutations, however are hampered by the impenetrability of a local dialect I don't perceive. He smiles, and waves me in direction of his dwelling, so I slip off Pegasus and follow him inside. There he pulls a black pot off the stove, and serves up a cup of steaming, scrumptious real bean coffee. It is an unexpected deal with, and after i ask in my greatest signal-language what I would give him in return, he shakes his head. I insist, and finally, after some thought, I pull off my Hanes T-shirt and hand it to my host.


After bidding goodbye I proceed the trip up the fallow grade, reaching the summit mid-afternoon. A shallow crater, lush with rain-nourished grass (the island is devoid of operating water) kinds an imperfect crown. Some of this grass is papyrus, referred to as totora, like that discovered along the shores of Lake Titicaca, and the stuff Thor Heyerdahl believed made up historic ocean crafts.


Pegasus picks up velocity and fire descending the japanese scree slope. After an hour's laborious experience I crest an empty ridge and look down upon Easter Island's most resplendent sight -- Ahu Akivi, or "The Seven Monkeys," as the islanders have nicknamed them. Since restoration by Chilean archeologist Dr. Gonzalo Figueroa and Professor William Mulloy, former head of the Department of Archeology at the College of Wyoming, the seven monkeys have grow to be the most famed and most photographed residents of the island. They stand not like apes, but moderately troopers guarding a wasteland, fastened in scorn, perpetually watching a vacant panorama and the watery azimuth beyond. Their graven pictures function tongue-tied testimony to a previous about we are able to solely surmise and quarrel.


Minutes later my as soon as-glue-manufacturing facility-candidate is galloping again Preakness-type, a cat that appears like me clinging to its back. Minus my proper stirrup I screech into Hanga Roa, pull into the first tavern, wrap the reins round a hitching submit, and mosey inside for a brew. I order a Brazilian import called Xingu, and stroll outside to tug the fleece saddle off Pegasus's sweaty back. A gust of wind spins down the lane and pitches mud into my eyes. A chill runs by means of me. I still have no shirt, having left mine with the leper on the hill, but this breeze appears ghost-like, one thing from sculptors previous perhaps, makers of nice art, but failed stewards of land, resources and culture. Are we any higher? Is there a message in the stony stares of the island sentries?


I take a protracted draw from my Xingu, drink within the glazed Pacific horizon, and the splendidly lonely landscapes of the island. I can hear the sea murmuring one thing, but it's indecipherable to me. The solar is setting, but I imagine I see a slight, sly smile on the lips of the statue on the ridge.
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