National Geographic : 1962 Jan
National Geographic, January, 1962 that had furnished topknots of red tufa for some of the statues lining the coast. North of Hanga Roa, amid trees and vines and vivid flowers, I stopped at Easter's saddest mon ument- a leprosarium. Leprosy, the scourge of Polynesia, came to Rapa Nui from Tahiti in the last century and decimated the population. New drugs can now arrest the disease, and many of Easter's lepers live at home; 13 contagious cases, how ever, remain in isolation at the leprosarium, with two nuns to care for them. I accompa nied one of the sisters to the new, airy medical pavilion for afternoon treatments. Mercifully, leprosy is its own anesthetic, and the patients felt no pain as she dressed their lesions with infinite gentleness. Back in Hanga Roa, we found Santiago Pakarati arranging to roast a pig for a last feast before the Pinto's departure. For one entire day Santiago prepared an umu, or tra ditional Polynesian earth oven. Carefully he selected the stones he would heat and the broad, green banana leaves he would use to enfold the pig. Occasionally his eye drifted hungrily to the luckless entree, securely tied to a near-by tree; for its part, the pig just oinked disconsolately. Early next morning, with the guests alert ed and all the Pakarati women cooking tid bits, Santiago went to get the pig. But during the night someone had taken it. With a sigh of resignation, he canceled the dinner and went fishing. No one seemed upset. During our stay someone casually made off with our horses and someone else just as casually found us two more. Again, no one seemed surprised or upset. Scientists Reconstruct Old Shrine Dr. William Mulloy, a University of Wy oming anthropologist who has spent almost two years on Easter, and Chilean archeologist Gonzalo Figueroa worked for eight months in 1960 reconstructing the shrine Ahu Akivi, three miles north of the village (page 90). "Our biggest problem," he explained, "was learning the precise details of how the an cients raised the stone images. In the end, we levered up a statue, then placed stones beneath it, levered it further, added more stones, and repeated the process until it stood upright. "This is almost certainly the method used in ancient times. Before just about every ahu Evil spirit, a moai kavakava glares bale fully. Small images appear to have been as important to the island's religious art as the large statues. Today's carvers make them only for the curio trade. Photographer Aber crombie bought this wooden reproduction for two shirts.