Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Revisiting My Favourite Place in the World... via the Economist

One of my favourite pictures, from my time on Easter Island.

In all of my travels, and of the 50+ countries visited, Easter Island is still the most mystic and exotic. A little clod of earth way out in the Pacific Ocean still pops into my thoughts and dreams... and I make no apologies for romanticising about somewhere that would capture the imagination of the most cynical traveller.

Despite UNESCO World Heritage status, the island and its 5,000 inhabitants rarely make the news, so it was quite a surprise for me to see an article on Rapa Nui in this week's Economist magazine.

To be honest the article is a bit of a non-event - too short to do any more than list the current issues threatening the island environment, but long enough at least to bring attention to one of the world's most important historical sites. I believe such attention can be a positive thing, if it helps encourage Chile and La Isla Pascua develop a long-term plan to protect the place. But that attention could, I suppose, be negative, if it simply encourages people to visit.

I would love to go back, and would love more people to be able to have the experience I had there. At the same time, it's that type of attention that risks doing as much environmental damage today as the island's original inhabitants did hundreds of years ago. But there's no harm in reading about it, and if the economist article isn't emotional enough for you, you can always check out the effect it had on me.