À la Recherche des Rapanui (25): Invitation au Voyage (Papeete-Hanga Roa)

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques…j’y tenais et pour ce faire ai écourté l’épisode pourtant haletant de ma croisière aux Marquises et même mon pourtant éblouissant séjour à Raiatea, saint des saints Polynésien que je rajouterai en post-scriptum.

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car tout de même, de tout mon voyage c’est l’étape la plus émotionnelle et je garantis que la première vision de l’Ahu Tongariki

et l’extraordinaire Rano Raraku coupent le souffle et conduisent les plus cyniques au bord des larmes.

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car de toutes les îles visitées, celle-ci aurait pu rester encore longtemps un fantasme…et que chaque instant en fut un!

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car on a envie de relever ces géants tombés sur leur “sentier” pour de mystérieuses raisons qu’aiment à entendre grandes et petites oreilles.

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car la nature y est sublime et qu’en ce moment précis je dis adieu à ses crépuscules roses

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques pour partager mon intense émotion et mon plaisir de chaque instant….

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car le sourire et l’hospitalité des pascouans (parfois bretonnants)n’excluent pas un certain fanatisme .

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques à l’aube de laquelle il faut saluer le soleil à l’Ahu Tongariki…

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car à midi le soleil écrase le Rano Raraku aka “la factoria” et que l’on étouffe de bonheur en découvrant dans chaque recoin d’autres Moai!

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car chaque cave a sa mythologie et ses contes à mourir dedans !

Je vous écris de l’Ile de Pâques car tout y est vertigineux

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car après les Moai il faut voir leurs coiffes pour réaliser l’ampleur de chaque mégalithe et de l’invraisemblable entreprise d’un peuple dont il est désormais acquis qu’il n’est que Polynésien…jusqu’à la prochaine théorie !

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car comme tout le monde je me suis écriée à qu’ils étaient forcément en contact avec les Incas!

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car on est très loin ici de tous nos repères…

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car nous sommes au crépuscule d’un peuple mystérieux et d’une humanité partagée au Tahai.

Je vous écris de l’île de Pâques car je n’en reviens toujours pas mais que j’ai atteint la capacité maximum de mes pixels….et que je m’en vais pour une ultime étape avant un retour vers les glaciations parisiennes et genevoises !


Patrice Le Bert, Guide extraordinaire
Hotel Taha Tai, super bien situé en ville
Resto sympa sur le port marchand

Et depuis mon retour, je reçois de mon guide magnifique d’autres infos (Merci Patrice!) que je rajouterai au fur et à mesure:
L’un des derniers documentaires sur l’Ile de Pâques (Mars 2018) et sa critique fine et précise par Jean-Hervé Daude: Île de Pâques – L’heure des vérités, quelques commentaires 

Merci à Mon ami Marko Weinberger pour m’avoir signalé cet article du New York Times en date des 17-18 mars 2018:

HANGA ROA, EASTER ISLAND — The human bones lay baking in the sun. It wasn’t the first time Hetereki Huke had stumbled upon an open grave like this one.

For years, the swelling waves had broken open platform after platform containing ancient remains. Inside the tombs were old obsidian spearheads, pieces of cremated bone and, sometimes, parts of the haunting statues that have made this island famous.But this time was different for Mr. Huke. The crumbling site was where generations of his own ancestors had been buried.

“Those bones were related to my family,” said Mr. Huke, an architect, recalling that day last year.

Centuries ago, Easter Island’s civilization collapsed, but the statues left behind here are a reminder of how powerful it must have been. And now, many of the remains of that civilization may be erased, the United Nations warns, by the rising sea levels rapidly eroding Easter Island’s coasts.

“You feel an impotency in this, to not be able to protect the bones of your own ancestors,” said Camilo Rapu, the head of Ma’u Henua, the indigenous organization that controls Rapa Nui National Park, which covers most of the island, and its archaeological sites. “It hurts immensely.”(…)

On Rapa Nui, the Polynesian name of this island, much of which has been recognized as a Unesco world heritage site, both the future and the past are threatened.Archaeologists fear the rising waves could erase clues to one of the greatest mysteries of the island: What caused the collapse of the civilization that built the stone statues?

Perhaps a thousand years ago, Polynesians discovered this island in the middle of a vast, empty sea. They created a civilization that constructed more than 1,100 moai statues, many of which were raised miles from their quarries using methods that still captivate scientists.

Less mysterious is what happened next. As the population grew, the island went from forested to barren. Europeans arrived with new diseases.


How climate change is erasing cultural identity around the world.

The island’s vast quarry at Rano Raraku was deserted, with dozens of moai left unfinished and abandoned. By the 1870s, the population was just over a hundred, down from thousands at its peak.

Archaeologists hotly debate whether it was resource depletion, disease, civil war, or perhaps rats that came with the islanders and ravaged forests, that was ultimately to blame. And the clues may lie inside the funeral platforms, which hold some of the few remains that can be dated to establish a timeline.

Those remains “could add more data to show it’s not a simple or straightforward answer to what happened,” said Jane Downes, a professor of archaeology at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland, who has spent many summers in Easter Island working to document the damage.

The damage has been swift on Ovahe Beach, near where Mr. Huke came across bones in the sun. For generations, there had been a sandy beach here that was popular with tourists and locals. Nearby, a number of unmarked burial sites were covered with stones.

Now the waves have carried off almost all of the sand, leaving jagged volcanic stone. The burial sites have been damaged and it’s not clear how long they will survive the waves.

“I once swam in Ovahe and the sand seemed to go on for miles,” said Pedro Pablo Edmunds, the Hanga Roa mayor, in his office as he flipped through a coffee-table book with images of the beach. “Now, it’s all stone.”(…)

At a site called Ura Uranga Te Mahina on the island’s southern coast, park officials were alarmed last year when blocks of a stone wall perched about 10 feet above a rocky coast collapsed after being battered by waves.

(…)Other vulnerable areas present an even tougher challenge to conservationists. One of them is the volcanic crater at Orongo, the center of the civilization’s activity around 1600, the last years before European contact. Island residents gathered for an annual swimming competition in which young men raced through open water to a nearby island, Motu Nui, to fetch bird eggs. The winner determined which clan would rule the island for the following year.

The stories of those races are told in a half-dozen large petroglyphs carved in stone perched over the edge of the caldera, vulnerable to storms and gravity.Park officials say they are exploring the possibility of anchoring the carvings onto more stable stone, or even moving them into a museum.

“Can we take them somewhere else?” said Mr. Rapu, the archaeologist. “Yes, but you lose their context, you lose their history when doing that.”

Mr. Rapu, who grew up on the island, said he regretted the environmental changes that had befallen the area. Few birds nest on Motu Nui anymore, he said, a consequence of what he suspects is changing weather patterns. He looked over the water and recalled his father’s stories of big migrations that used to arrive at the island regularly, much like they did during the days of the competitions.Sebastián Paoa, the head of planning at Ma’u Henua, said he was sure that, ultimately, the island’s inhabitants would find their way through the challenge of the rising sea levels just as they had survived the collapse in ancient times.

“They knew their environment was coming apart, but that didn’t stop them from persisting here,” he said. “It’s the same with climate change today.”

Mr. Huke, the architect, said he feels the same way.

Finding the bones of his ancestors on the beach wasn’t cause for despair, he said, but a call to action. (…)

Written by Nicholas Casey. Photographs and drone video by Josh Haner.

Designed and produced by Rebecca Lieberman, Meaghan Looram and Claire


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