4 lessons from the ends of the earth
Recently, Airbnb product lead Joe Zadeh and health and education expert Rebecca Jones returned from an eye-opening trip to Easter Island. This is a guest post from Becca.
As the plane icon inched towards a speck in the Pacific Ocean, we realized just where we were going: the middle of nowhere. A six-hour flight from Santiago, Easter Island is one of the world’s remotest inhabited islands – and home to Airbnb’s most out-of-the-way listing: Inaki Uhi.
Our trip began with our Airbnb host, Alvaro, welcoming us at the airport with pink leis his mother had made that morning. It ended with new friends, inspiration, and a deep appreciation for savoring the road less traveled. Here are four lessons we learned along the way.
1. Immerse yourself in the culture and history before you go
The beauty of traveling to the end of the world is that almost everything is new and fresh. By steeping yourself in the local culture prior to your trip, you’ll appreciate your journey more profoundly.
We were lucky to have access to awesome documentaries and books on Easter Island’s deforestation and the mysteries behind its famous moai (rock statues), ahu (stone platforms), and rock art. One great resource was BBC’s The Lost Gods of Easter Island.
By learning everything we could about our destination, we could skip the standard tour-guide preamble and go straight to the national park.
2. Learn from locals whenever you can
We couldn’t believe our good fortune when Alvaro offered to take us to the national park and his favorite spots on the island. During our day trip, we enjoyed a seaside picnic, explored the volcanic quarry scat
tered with giant moai, traversed a few caves, and visited a perfectly round stone known as the “navel of the land.”
Seeing the huge moai figures up close is surreal. One of the largest – more than 70 feet high – was never completed and appears to emerge from the surrounding rock. It was a nerdy dream come true to witness the Easter Island Statue Project under way at this famous archeological site.
Throughout the day Alvaro shared his personal insights and stories. He grew up on the island, and his grandfather was mayor of Hanga Roa, the only city. He gave us a unique perspective into the island’s history – including all the conspiracies around the historic artifacts. Without Alvaro’s contribution, our experience wouldn’t have been nearly as rich.
3. Take it slow
We chose to rent dirt bikes in order to experience the island as intimately as possible.
Most of Easter Island’s roads are unpaved and rocky, so the ride was no mean feat. Along the way, we encountered wild horses, roaming cattle, sleeping dogs, and roosters. (We got so used to hearing rooster calls that we coined our own time: “half past a rooster call.”)
Experiencing the sights and sounds of Easter Island would never have been so rich had we been tearing about in a rental car.
4. Get creative
Landing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in one of the world’s most mysterious places, fuels creativity. It’s a photographer’s playground and a writer’s hideaway.
One of our most enduring images of the island was a woman meditating in a field right next to the famous row of moai, against a backdrop of rolling turquoise waves with the sun descending in the horizon.
Getting out of your familiar routine and pace forces your mind into new channels. Going to the end of the world pushes your creativity beyond old limits.
Read more from Becca on Twitter at @hotgranola.
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