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Ends of the Earth -- Destination #7: Easter Island

If I had the means to visit the ends of the Earth, here are the ten places I would visit.
What ten "ends of the Earth" places would you like to visit? Leave me a comment. 

Destination #7: Easter Island

Easter Island is probably the most remote island inhabited by human beings. Located in the South Pacific Ocean, Chile and the continent of South America are 250 miles to its east. No human beings live on an island to its west for over 1200 miles.

So where did the human inhabitants of Easter Island come from? Most likely, Polynesians traveled over 2000 miles to reach the island around 300 A.D. If true, this must be one of the most amazing travel stories never written. The folks who traveled back in that day weren't sailing via luxury yacht, and they certainly didn't have the ability to carry many provisions with them. Needless to say, they didn't have maps, didn't have an end destination in mind, and didn't have any clue when they'd find land suitable for human habitation.

I think I would have been freaking out after, oh say, the first thousand miles without any sight of land. How far could an average Polynesian canoe travel in a day, anyway, and how comfortable was the ride? Just assume that the trip took 4 to 6 weeks, and that's just my poor uneducated guess. How did they manage to stay hydrated? Did they fish for their food, and did they eat the fish raw? The Pacific isn't a very forgiving ocean, so how exactly did the canoes manage to stay afloat, and how many Polynesians became shark bait?

No one knows much about the people that first arrived at what is now known as Easter Island, but they beat the first Europeans there by over 1400 years. By the time the Europeans arrived, of course, Easter Island had already been in decline for centuries. Small island, not enough resources, and eventually, too much procreation. Some suggest that Eastern Island serves as a microcosmic warning of what eventually will happen to Earth itself, and most likely, there will be no extraterrestrial visitors to document Earth's demise.

Of course Easter Island is known for its moai statues, but the creation of these statues may have been, in part, responsible for the island's depletion in resources. Today, they seem so pointless and yet so wonderful, but it makes me wonder what sort of pointless but wonderful temples modern humans are building now. Sure, we assume ours have wonderful purpose, but unlike the original inhabitants of Easter Island who were blind to their own self-inflicted destruction, we should be smart enough to discern the warning signs pointing to our own possible extinction. And yet, we continue to build our own versions of moai.

Currently, only 5000 people live on Easter Island. From Minneapolis, it's not a place to visit accidentally. Average round-trip airfare may be as high as $3,000, requiring connecting flights in Miami and Santiago, Chile. Total time in the air is just 18 hours.

Of all the places on this list, Easter Island may actually be the one that best represents Earth's inhabited end.


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