Easter Island, Chile, the most magical place we have ever been.
Pablo Neruda: Chilean, poet and Nobel award winner. According to himself, he was a prize idiot and a sailor only by mouth. The former, it goes without arguing. The latter, maybe it was true that he couldn’t stand sailing, and he was still crazy about ships, but someone like him, who could use his imagination like he did, doesn’t need the title of captain to be a sailor. His houses are like dreams with tags, where each corner has a story. True or false, it doesn’t matter, probably created by him, but so alive that the objects seem to have a face and a name. Like that armchair that he called cloud, or the living room that he turned into a lighthouse. Where there were no windows, he invented sights, and where the floor creaked, he imagined a schooner.
We are not going to lie, we don’t read much poetry. We know it doesn’t sound correct to say so but we think it’s twee, stilted, absurd, and nonsense. However there are also certain exceptions, like when they tell you something that you felt before but didn’t know how to put it in words. Then it looks like they are talking for you, whispering the words that you couldn’t find. Words that mix with your memories in such a way that you don’t know if it is your voice or the poet’s that sounds in your head. That happened to us one day reading what Neruda said about Machu Picchu. He said that seeing those rocks he missed a life that he never lived before, but he felt it was his, like if he had worked there, digging holes and smoothing rocks. Only one difference, he was in Peru and we were in the Easter Island.
Right there, lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we also felt like we were part of that island. It is true that the volcanic scenery reminded Belen to the Canary Islands. It is true that the size and shape, the colour and the air, reminded Pedro to Formentera. But it was something different, beyond a simple resemblance or temporary déjà vú. Surrounding the island we run into the famous sculptures, some restored, others sunk in the ground, like if they were embarrassed by the story that ruined them. Rocky faces that the more we looked, the more they made us feel nostalgia of a world we never knew. That was the melancholy that the poet referred to. How sad it is to think that somebody who could create something so simple but so great, so perfect and so unique, disappeared without a note, a warning, not even a name.
Some of the current inhabitants in the island are direct descendants of those artists without signature, but the war and the hunger, diseases and slavery erased any memory of who their ancestors were. Or maybe not. Perhaps, scared by the ambition of the ones who live on the other side of the gigantic waves that break in their coast, they’d rather forget or simply not tell. The truth is that when you talk to them, they deny with their words what they confirm with their eyes. That they know more than what they say. That there are still caves left that are hidden and sealed, like the ones that were found already full of objects and treasures, maybe, who knows, even with some kind of engraving that would allow deciphering the rongo-rongo writing. That they know the reason why the first westerners who arrived to their island, saw white people among them, many of them even with red hair. That they belonged to the Long Ears tribe, who owned the island for more than 1000 years, and who were the authentic lords of the Moais. That the Short Ears tribe arrived from Polynesia much later and fought fiercely with the formers and it led them not only to cannibalism, but also to almost their own extinction. That they spared only one Long Ears’ life, and ended up all of a sudden with a millenary civilization. One day they will tell us who were those white, tall, red-head geniuses, called Long Ears, who looked too much like some Inca noblemen, whose mummies had also red hair and, oddly, were also known as Orejones, the Big Ears in Spanish, whose king, the legend says, departed in a ship to the East to conquer the sea in the same direction where the Easter Island is located.
You can believe us or not, but we assure you that when we borrowed those words from Neruda about Machu Picchu, to be able to explain how we felt in the Easter Island, we didn’t know anything about this story. Among all the ancient creations sure there are a lot of them that are bigger, nicer or more precious, but there is none with such a perfect design as the Moais, impressive for its seniority, insolent for its modernity. It is a design that is able to inspire mystery and make you accomplice, like if you had helped to lift those rocky big heads and then forget about it. It makes you go back there and inhale the sweet and strong, fresh and soft aroma of the Easter Island, that smell that can awake memories that you never had and even make you believe for a minute, that your ears are longer that usual.