When I was a toddler, my traveling life began when my parents left Minnesota for the
Pacific Northwest, and my earliest memories include crossing the Rockies en route to a suburb of Tacoma, Washington. In later years I became a stamp collector, imagining remote destinations I might someday visit, and I listened to the radio—when, after dark, the signals from remote 50,000-watt stations would boom onto my tiny transistor radio, under the blankets.
|In 1961, Hawai'i's Frankie Reveira was starting catcher for the Pacific Coast League champion Tacoma Giants.|
Growing up on the West Coast, I heard major league baseball when the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants relocated to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, and the legendary Vin Scully helped make me a lifetime Dodgers fan. Locally, though, I was a fan of the Tacoma Giants (Pacific Coast League), and I would lie awake until the bars closed—even though I was nowhere near drinking age—to hear Don Hill’s re-creations when Tacoma played the Hawai’i Islanders in Honolulu (those games started at 11 p.m. Pacific Standard Time). In fact, the Tacoma Giants themselves employed a Hawaiian catcher by the name of Frankie Reveira (whom Hill, unfortunately, nicknamed “Johnny Pineapple”), and a number of Hawaiians now play in the majors.
|Hanga Roa is the only town on Rapa Nui (Easter Island)|
Oddly, despite its relative accessibility, Hawai’i was not the first Polynesian island I ever visited—that “honor” goes to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), which I’ve visited at least half a dozen times in the course of writing and updating guidebooks to southernmost South America (Rapa Nui, of course, is a Chilean possession, though it’s gained some autonomy is recent years).
|Hawai'i, especially the Big Island, has dense forests and rivers that Rapa Nui lacks.|
Hawai’i, of course, has a far greater land mass (10,931 square miles, about 28,300 sq km) than Rapa Nui (just 63 square miles or 164 sq km), with a much larger population (1.43 million v. 5,800 or so), but the two still have much in common. While Hawai’i is a literally tropical archipelago (Honolulu’s latitude is 21° N), Rapa Nui (27° S) is a bit farther from the Equator and, with the islets of Motu Iti and Motu Nui, it barely classifies as an archipelago.
|Motu Iti and Motu Nui lie a short distance off the Rapa Nui shoreline.|
|Rapa Nui's Playa Ovahe is far less crowded than just about anywhere in Hawai'i.|
Both areas are volcanic, though Rapa Nui has no active volcanism and its handful of beaches is far less crowded than Hawai’i’s. Both have lava tubes, however, that are open for short hikes. Hawai’i retains much of its native forest, while nearly barren Rapa Nui now has only non-native trees. There have been efforts, however, to re-introduce the native toromiro tree, which is extinct in the wild but present at botanical gardens at Kew and Gothenburg.
|Hiking through the Thurston Lava Tube, Volcanoes National Park, Big Island of Hawai'i|
|Rapa Nui's Ana Te Pahu is far smaller than the Thurston Lava Tube.|
There are also some links between the Polynesian peoples of the two archipelagos. Educated in the United States, former Rapa Nui governor Sergio Rapu earned an M.A. in Pacific culture and archaeology from the University of Hawai’i, and has helped supervise the restoration of megalithic monuments such as those at Ahu Tongariki and other sites (the term ahu, denoting a memorial altar or shrine, is also common in Hawai’i and other parts of Polynesia). What Rapa Nui really lacks, though, may be its own Frankie Reveira—soccer, sadly, is the prime participant sport here.
|Former governor Sergio Rapu, who has studied and lived in Hawai'i, helped restore Rapa Nui's Ahu Tongariki.|