Hi all from Hugh. Now where are we? Ah yes, lying in the back of a 7.2 meter long, six berth camper van bumping along from Murchison to Golden Bay on New Zealand’s South Island trying to write a blog. This will likely last about 187km, mostly through mountain passes and sub-tropical rain forests, but also over O’Sullivan’s Bridge and past Longford. We’re really never too far away from Ireland.
|Longford (not quite Ireland e.g. note the sunny weather...)|
I read Aku Aku, Thor Heyerdhal’s book on his Easter Island expedition, at the age of 17 in 1976. It describes his 1956 expedition to unlock the secrets of Easter Island: Who were the original settlers? How had the huge Moai, weighing many tens of tons, been moved across the island? How had the island population been decimated in the 18th and 19th Centuries? To be brief, his most important conclusion was that the island was originally populated by South American Incas who had built stone monuments, and that the present population were part of a later influx of Polynesians who built the Moai.
At 17, I was fascinated by his descriptions of the Island and its inhabitants, both animate and inanimate. I remember that the book was beautifully written, his results regarding the Inca settlers compelling and his radical anthropological conclusions both sound and appropriate. I vowed that I would one day travel there to see its glories, walk in my hero’s footsteps and stare Moai in their eye sockets. Thus, while sitting in Madrid Airport on December 8th2015, about a week before arriving in Easter Island, I picked up Aku Aku with joy and began rereading the book that had inspired my journey almost 40 years ago.
One hundred and eight pages later and less than half finished, I put the book down, bitterly disappointed at both its tone and content. My hero’s attitude towards the Islanders now seemed superior and even racist at times, his hypotheses and multiple unsubstantiated assumptions regarding the early settlers unusual and his results sketchy. Moreover, the book was badly written, littered with word for word conversations that he had had with various characters that appeared largely apocryphal, and all the while scattered with trite and prejudicial reflections on the Islanders and Island life. Nevertheless, as with all books I start but don’t finish, probably somewhat less than one in 40, I did read the final chapter. This did nothing to change my views, his conclusions appearing biased and unconvincing. Ah well, I can only suppose that everything we see, hear and read is coloured by both our present state and previous experience and that our views on any subject therefore necessarily change with time.
|Come in Mercury...|
|Me and the happy campers.|