Alone on Easter Island
By Angel Chung Cutno
The 3 days I spent on Easter Island included one of the most moving experiences of my life. On my day of exploration, I chose my interactions carefully and had successfully avoided buses full of guided tourists bearing fanny packs and water bottles.
I set out from my hostel that morning with only a rough understanding of the island and rented a 4-wheeler. Eventually, I reached a large stretch of the coast made up of pure black jagged lava rocks ending in the crystal blue ocean, so I pulled over on my quad to watch the waves crash higher than one story overhead.
I gingerly walked bare-footed across the sharp rocks to what I noticed was a mid-sized tide pool and was stunned to see the gorgeous emeralds and sapphires glistening off the coral reef inside. When I reached the safest distance at the edge of the land before the ocean, I stood looking at the ocean reflecting the hues of the blue sky and around at the green fields stretching for miles behind me. I sealed that moment deep within because I knew that there was not another single soul near me for thousands of miles across the water and as far as I could hear or see on the island. It was the most overwhelming yet comforting feeling of being alone I had ever felt.
I continued on my ride and committed to silence for the day in order to preserve the purity of my experience. I successfully accomplished this until I crossed paths with a local family who flagged me down as I created dust clouds behind my quad while speeding along the ocean path.
I quickly realized that I could still hold true to my vow if I adjusted it to say, “I commit to not speak any English today.” The fourth generation Rapa Nui family invited me into their camping spot. They explained that while they live on the island, on occasion, they enjoy escaping the “town” and setting up in a cave, whose walls are covered with ancient pictographs, for a week while living off the land and eating fresh fish from the ocean.
At that moment, one of the younger sons ran over holding up the most beautiful sea creature I had ever laid eyes upon: a parrotfish. Every metallic hue of the color wheel could be found in its surreal patches throughout its scales.
As the family threw these living masterpieces on the fire and gnawed away with smiles, I knew it was time for me to lay my vegan badge aside and fully dive into this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
When I said goodbye to the family and continued my journey, I was able to hold to my commitment and continue exploring the island in blissful silence which permanently sealed the sensation of pure aloneness which could truly only be felt on the most remote island in the world.
Angel Chung Cutno
Angel was born to a mother from South Korea and a father from South Louisiana. Their true love for each other was larger than the oceans that physically separated them. When they were reunited in the US and Angel was born, they immediately packed her up and filled the first 3 years of her life with extensive cross-country and international travel. Since that time, Angel has been infected with the wanderlust bug and has traveled the world alone even to the most remote island in the world: Easter Island. In several of the countries where Angel has been, her time mostly consisted of volunteer work or teaching which is also what she does locally. Angel is highly involved in her community through various organizations, non-profits, community groups, and the art and music scene. Today, she still has grand dreams of travel and meeting people of all cultures while bringing purpose and intention to every trip and new conversation with her future potential friends. #angeltakesflight