Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tuesday, May 6

Every Rotary trip we have a day where we do community service of some sort, and today was that day. We were taken to this place on the island that was in need of restoration, and told that the guys would be left there to plant trees, but that the girls would be given some easier job. A lot of girls were really angry about the sexism that was being shown, and internally I was too, but I also know that the Chilean culture is a lot more sexist than the US culture, and that I shouldn’t criticize that or try to change what isn’t mine to change, so I went along with the women to this greenhouse nearby.
We repotted a bunch of plants that had gotten too big for their pots. Those plants would eventually be planted in the same place on the island that was in need of restoration, so we were still helping a lot.
After the job was done, we went to the only jail on the island, which has this cool program where the inmates make woodwork and then tourists can go in and buy from them. There were a few guards around, but overall it was very relaxed and basically just like any other feria I’d ever been to. We got back to the hotel just in time for lunch. After lunch, we got back on the busses to go up to the big volcano on the island.
We took pictures looking down into the volcano and of the primitive houses that the first tribes who arrived on the island used. We also got a lesson in the culture of the Rapa Nui people. There were many tribes who lived on the island, and in order to choose the leader of the island, there was a competition every year. A representative from each tribe would meet on top of the volcano to compete. They had to swim to a tiny nearby island and bring back the first seagull egg of the spring, risking their lives on shark attacks and strong waters to return first to the volcano and win the competition. The winner became leader of the tribes for one full year. This is called the legend of the hombre pajaro.
lookout spot on the island where you can see both sides of it at the same time, showing just how small the place is
After we got back to the hotel, we had free time. I went down to the moai statues with a group of people and we talked for a while and then watched the sun set. It was absolutely gorgeous to watch the sky change colors behind the moai statues while I was surrounded by my best friends from all over the world.
We walked home afterward and changed into these red t-shirts that said END POLIO NOW on them in big letters, and then we all piled onto the busses for a special event. We went back to that super famous row of 15 moais, where a band had been set up and a bunch of people were milling around in the same rotary t-shirts.
They explained to us that Rotary’s main mission is to end Polio, and recently, Polio has been discovered in 11 countries where it didn’t used to be, so this campaign that we were to be a part of was going to be important. We were the first group in history to be given to light up the 15 moais at night (with a projection of the same END POLIO NOW logo) and take a picture in front of it. That picture would then be circulated throughout the world as motivation to continue Rotary’s goal. After the picture was taken, we went back to where the band was playing to watch a traditional Rapa Nui dance show.
It was very similar to Polynesian dance, with lots of energy and yelling from the guys and lots of calm hip movements from the girls.
After the dance was over, a few people came up to us and asked who was confident in their Spanish, and everyone pointed to me. They took me aside and interviewed me for the Easter Island radio station. I was pretty scared about making a bunch of mistakes in Spanish especially since I hadn’t spoken at all in 3 days, but I just said some general things about how happy I was to be able to give my support to ending polio and how beautiful this island is and they seemed happy enough with my performance. We traveled back on the bus while singing Taylor Swift at the top of our lungs (I still can’t get over how cool it is that people from Denmark, Finland, Germany, and France know the same childhood songs that I do). We got back to the hotel around 10, ate dinner, and went to bed immediately.

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