Easter Island

Commonly known as Easter Island, it was so named because the European sailors who discovered the island arrived on the scene on Easter Sunday. Recently it has become  customary to refer to the island as Rapa Nui and the native peoples as the Rapanui people.  The name roughly translates as “Big Rapa” which references the Island of Rapa, a large island in French Polynesia. The first recorded use of the name was in the 1860s. Apparently the  name has been used to differentiate it from the Island of Rapa.

The island is best known for the Moai Statues that dot the island. Another notable part of the history of the island is that it was probably settled sometime between 600 and 900 AD by explorers from another Polynesian island. And then after settling the island the society that the settlers built abruptly collapsed in the 1700s. 

We visited Rapa Nui for the second time on the 25th of January. It took several sea days to get there, and will take another 4 sea days to get to our next destination in French Polynesia, Fakarova. The reason for the long trek is that Rapa Nui is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles away from any where else. For instance, Rapa Nui is several thousand miles away from Chile which annexed it in 1883. Although Chile granted full citizenship to Rapanuis in the 1960s, there is still quite a bit of anti-Chilean sentiment on the island.

The Moai (pronounced Mō Eye) statues that dominate the island’s archeology have to be seen to be believed. They extend up to 80 feet tall, and some weigh more than 40 tons. They were carved out of stone in a rock quarry on the other side of the island and then transported to the coasts of the island where they were stood up facing inward. That leads to 2 rather obvious questions.

First—why do the statues face inward? Second—how on earth did they manage to move these enormous statues all the way from the quarry to the coast? 

It turns out that the statues face inward as if looking over the population because that is what the statues were set up to do. The native people of the island believed that the statues possessed a quality they called “Mana”. They believed that “Mana” was a type of spiritual quality which their ancestors could pass on when they died; in a sense it was passed from the ancestors to the statues which would then look over and protect them.

The second question—how did the native population move these heavy statues over long distances in the 1400s to 1600s, absent modern tools like Caterpillar tractors?  Many archeologists have worked on the problem and have come up with various solutions that include rolling the statues to the coast using trees tied together and used as wheels. There is virtual unanimity that notwithstanding all the books and TV specials produced by a congeries of cranks and con men, intervention by space aliens is not a reasonable explanation.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is a fascinating place that poses many other interesting questions, one being why did the civilization rapidly begin to disappear during the 1700s.  We were lucky enough to hear several lectures about these and other questions by an expert named James Grant-Peterkin, who is British Honorary Consul. He has produced a very good short guide book that delves into the story of Rapa Nui titled “A Companion to Easter Island” that is well worth reading. Needless to say, it is available on Amazon. 

It would take too much time (and bandwidth) to go on more about Easter Island. But…if you get a chance to visit, certainly consider it. (Here is a blog post link from our 2018 visit). In the meantime several photos from our most recent visit are included below. 

Meanwhile, Iorana (Polynesian for Hello or Goodbye). 


A vertical photo of 2 Moai statues on Easter Island.
Easter Island, Chile — January 25, 2023. A telephoto long distance shot of tourists on a walking path by a Moai statue. The tourists give a sense of scale to the Moai.
Easter Island, Chile — January 25, 2023. A photo of a man, his dog and bicycle and tourists by Moai statues and the sea.
Photo of a row of Moai statues on Easter Island
A photo of wild horses that live freely on Easter Island

Through the Panama Canal to Manta, Ecuador

The west coast of South America, where part of Ecuador is located, is an extraordinarily fertile area for commercial fishing. Manta, located on Ecuador’s central coast, is the largest fishing port in Ecuador. Also known as San Pablo de Manta, the city is the largest and most populated city in Manabi Province. 

We stopped in Manta for a couple of days after traversing the Panama Canal. While there we got a look at an archeological dig (not really worth it) and we also got to see some native dancers perform folk dances at a local country club. The dancers were very energetic and accomplished. 

A couple of shots from our travels across the Panama Canal and time in Manta are posted below. 

In the Panama Canal
Manta, Ecuador–January 16, 2023. Photo of Ecuadorian dancers
Manta, Ecuador–January 16, 2023. Photo of Ecuadorian folk dancers performing.
Our guide to an archeological dig
Manta, Ecuador–January 16, 2023. Photo of Ecuadorian dancers performing a folk dance about Pirates

Guayaquil, Ecuador

17 January 2023

As our itinerary changed due to civil unrest in Peru (and the cancellation of our planned visits there), we had the opportunity today to visit Guayaquil, Ecuador, a city we first saw in 2018.  

Guayaquil is a large port city, home to over 3 million people.   It has a cosmopolitan flavor, with influences from around the world seen in its architecture, food, businesses, etc.   Guayaquil is home to several universities, and Ecuador’s only University of Fine Arts.   It is the major commercial, economic and industrial center of Ecuador. 

When we first saw Guayaquil several years ago, we visited on a quiet, sunny Sunday morning.  We enjoyed the Malecón 2000 (the river walk along the Guayas River that was part of a big urban renovation project completed in 2000) and the beautiful Las Peñas area, home to old colorful houses, artisan workshops, and the Santa Ana Hill and Lighthouse.  

We returned today to Malecón 2000 and Las Peñas, on a busy Tuesday morning, and were delighted to see how this area has grown in size while retaining its distinctive, charming character.  

On our way to and from Las Peñas we had the chance to see much more of the city, including a large area where the Navy has its offices, residences, hospital, shipyard, etc., as well as the enormous port area where all of the services needed for cargo shipping and transport are located.  

We leave Ecuador today, and will be on the seas for several days before we arrive at Easter Island, home of the Moai carved by the Rapa Nui people.

Mary Anne

(Some photos from Guayaquil are below–Joe).  

An Iguana in Iguana Park in Guayaquil slithers in the grass.
A vertical photo of the entrance to Guayaquil’s University of the Arts
Photo of a hill in the Las Penas section of Guayaquil
Church Spires in Guayaquil

Cartagena, Columbia

The joke the locals tell in Cartagena, Columbia is that the city has two types of weather: Hot and Hotter. It was certainly hot (and humid) on January 12 when we docked there. Then again, it beats 4 degrees in New Jersey. 

Originally known as Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena was an important Spanish colony that was a key port for the export of Bolivian silver to Spain. Sitting on the northern coast of Columbia and facing the Caribbean Sea, it was also very defensible against pirates. It is now the 5th largest city in Columbia with a population of about 2 million people. 

The city is now a major tourist destination and it is easy top see why. The city is bustling and colorful, and loaded with museums and restaurants.  

One other note: Our stops scheduled for Peru have been cancelled due to the political unrest in the country. So, we will spend some additional time in Ecuador, after going through the Panama canal. 

Some photos from Cartagena are below. We will be posting fairly regularly, so stay tuned. 


Cartagena, Columbia — January 12, 2023. Photo of dancers in traditional dress performingd in Cartagena, Columbia.
Cartagena, Columbia — January 12, 2023. Photo of 3 dancers leaping on stage in Cartagena, Columbia.
Cartagena, Columbia — January 12, 2023. Photo of a fruit vendor and his cart on the street in Cartagena, Columbia.
Cartagena, Columbia — January 12, 2023. Photo of colorful buildings in Cartagena, Columbia.

Leaving Miami

We are finally on our way. We set sail from Miami on Sunday afternoon and we are scheduled to dock in Cartagena, Columbia on Wednesday morning. This far everything is first rate—the service, the accommodations, the food and entertainment—not to mention the 7 bars around the ship.

We do have very slow internet (along with a lot of other people). That’s something we are working on now. Anyway—because so many people have asked—there are about 450 people signed up for the full 5 months of the World Cruise. You read that right. About 450 people. 

We’ll check in after we reach Cartagena. Until then, Ciao. 

Photo of Miami Skyline from the deck of the Mariner 7.


2023 is Here

Well, it’s 2023 already, and it’s going to be a big year—a very big year—for travel photography. Mary Anne and I will be leaving shortly to go on a long cruise that will take us to Australia, India, Africa, Japan and Indonesia to name a few of the places we will be visiting.  

A summary of the itinerary can be found at this link: https://www.rssc.com/cruises/MAR230107G/summary

We plan to post plenty of photos and text describing our journey. So keep tuned to this page.

In the meantime we visited the Army Museum in Virginia. It’s fairly new and has very interesting exhibits that trace the history of the US Army from the beginning of the republic.  If you find yourself in Virginia, it’s well worth a visit. 

Some photos from the museum. 

Wide angle photo of a wall at the Army Museum that commemorates Medal of Honor winners
A wide angle ohoto looking down onto the lobby of the Army Museum in Virginia
Photo of an exhibit commemorating WW1 US Army soldiers
A photo of an exhibit commemorating WWII US Army soldiers
Replica of a WWII Landing Craft in the Army Museum
Wide angle photo of a first floor exhibit in the Army Museum in Northern Virginia