Tapati Rapa Nui Festival and Hitchhiking – Day 12

Today, I went to the third day of the Tapani Rapa Nui festival, which is a 14 day festival where the locals celebrate their island with song, dance, and a competition.

The competition obviously caught my eye as it is Easter Island’s version of the Olympic Games, yet there are only two contestants. And those two competitors are woman chosen by the people of the island.

On the surface, two local women are paired against each other with the winner receiving a car, cash, and major notoriety on Easter Island and throughout Chile.  But when I dove into the competition deeper I realized that the entire island divides in two teams, supporting a woman of their choice, almost like an election with the woman acting as the candidates and the citizens as their respective constituents.

Then, over the course of 14 days the two ‘teams’ compete in dancing competitions, rhetoric match-ups, and history debates as well as sporting events such as rowing, horse racing, fishing, racing around the island while balancing banana bunches over ones shoulders, and more with today’s competition being the banana slide.

This looked like a blast as each competitor had to build what resembled a toboggan, but instead of being made out of our grandfathers oak and called a sled it was made out of the trunks of banana trees and called a Haka Pei competition. At the top of a 300 yard hill sat the competitors with two teammates ready to push him down the hill as if they were a bobsled team, yet only one person rode this banana trunk down the hill. Their speeds ranged between 45-55 mph and the rides looked both exciting and hilarious, with the occasional crash.

When the event ended I looked around for my ride and realized that they already left as I spent the day with all of the locals I’d met over the past 10 days. After wandering around for a bit I decided that I would hitchhike. And thus, one of the coolest encounters I’ve ever experienced proceeded.

I hopped into a beat up red Toyota with three other locals. We each sat in our corner as beer bottles and trash fumbled around the cab.  As we rode along the bumpy road our conversation revolved around life, travel, and Easter Island, but in Spanish.

Now, I can get by, but let’s just say my best Spanish words are “un pocito espanol.”

Yet as we sat on in the back of this dirty truck on a pothole laden street I never felt more confident in the language of the world. Confident, because we all could sense positive energy, happiness, and peace because I was observing the world from the back of a pick-up in a land I was yearning to learn about.

It was then when I launched my Win Forever campaign on these three poor souls. They not only embraced this philosophy, but were enthralled with it. As they spoke about what it meant to “Win Forever” to them, all I did was listen.

That act of listening is also the second phase of the Win Forever philosophy.

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