National Geographic : 2012 Jul
• The one-room house that José Antonio Tuki built on Easter Island for himself and his Belgian girlfriend, Joyce Verbaenen, has electricity but no indoor plumbing. The ocean is only steps away. José Antonio Tuki, a 30-year-old artist on Easter Island, did one of the things he loves best: He le his one-room home on the southwest coast and hiked north across the island to Anakena beach. Legend has it the earliest Polynesian set- tlers hauled their canoes ashore at Anakena a thousand years ago or so, a er navigating more than a thousand miles of open Paci c. Under the same moon and stars Tuki sat on the sand and gazed directly before him at the colossal human statues---the moai. Carved centuries ago from volcanic tu , they're believed to embody the dei- ed spirits of ancestors. Sleepless roosters crowed; stray dogs barked. A frigid wind gusted in from Antarctica, mak- ing Tuki shiver. He's a Rapanui, an indigenous Polynesian resident of Rapa Nui, as the locals call Easter Island; his own ancestors probably helped carve some of the hundreds of statues that stud the island's grassy hills and jagged coasts. At Anakena seven potbellied moai stand at at- tention on a 52-foot-long stone platform---backs to the Paci c, arms at their sides, heads capped with tall pukao of red scoria, another volcanic rock. ey watch over this remote island from a remote age, but when Tuki stares at their faces, he feels a surge of connection. "It's something strange and energetic," he says. " is is some- thing produced from my culture. It's Rapanui." He shakes his head. "How did they do it?" Easter Island covers just 63 square miles. It lies 2,150 miles west of South America and 1,300 miles east of Pitcairn, its nearest inhabited neigh- bor. A er it was settled, it remained isolated for Ona winter night last June, Hannah Bloch was a Pakistan correspondent for Time before joining the Geographic as an editor. Randy Olson has shot 27 features, including ones on war-torn Sudan and Congo's Mbuti Pygmies.