Thursday, August 15, 2013

What does it feel like to be back? (Monday 12 August 2013)

We were last here in April 2009. What's changed?

Much is the same, but rapid economic development is definitely continuing on Rapa Nui. Some aspects are good; others might be considered not so good. And some things really haven't changed.

It's a different time of year (mid-'winter'), so it is cooler, wetter and greener. Flowers seemed to be omnipresent before, but there are even more now. Pictured here is the small but brilliant flower of guava - an introduced scrub tree that covers the island like a woody weed. At least it is both pretty and produces tasty fruit.

Looking beyond the different flowers, the most obvious change is that even though there were a lot of cars before (1 car per 1.8 people according to one source I quoted in my blog), there are even more cars now. They are bigger, newer, nicer and there are more utes/pickups. Before, light Suzuki 4wd SUVs were most common, but this is no longer the case and I wonder where they all went!

Speaking of  transportation, an interesting point I brought up in 2009 was that the police were trying to enforce a helmet law on scooters and motorbikes. Though many tourists wear helmets, when I look at the locals, it is now quite apparent they've given up!

Despite the increase in automobiles, and investment in hotels, and a few new houses, the standard of typical buildings - particularly along the main street - has not changed. I'm told that the reason is very similar to something that affect Maori land in New Zealand. The land is indigenous land. Land owners cannot get mortgages, because the bank can't take the property if they fail to pay back the loan. So without bank loans, investment is limited to surplus cash on hand. In many cases, tourism is providing enough cash for new building. In other cases, there's creative use of cheap materials that are available, which is neat to see when it is done well. My favorites are the artistic flare, and when natural shapes of native wood are incorporated in buildings. The building pictured here is constructed of cheap materials - but adorned with fresh painted art representing the island's cultural heritage.


1 comment:

  1. I would like to say something about the flower in the picture. Actually it's not a guava flower...don't know the name but that plant doesn't have any fruit and the guava flower is white color.

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