Image: The view looking out of one of the windows at Dos Ventanas Cave.
This trip went well really. Alicia and I were able to visit and evaluate four additional caves, I was able to meet with CONAF officials and the Governor of the island. I also had the opportunity to meet a Polish Cave Expedition team. So, this trip was highly successful.
Of the study sites for next summer, many of them contained well-developed moss gardens. These moss gardens are of particular interest to me. I wonder whether these have been intact since historic times and if so, do they support relict populations.
Most notably, I was able to establish a collaboration with the Polish expedition team. This team was searching for and mapping caves throughout the island. They have agreed to provide me with their maps once they have been drafted. This will be vitally important to our work this summer. We will be able to focus on studying the biodiversity and identifying caves suitable for archaeological excavation, and will not need to be mapping caves as well. This will save us a lot of time.
Image: While with the Nat Geo team, Alicia brought her guitar and played us a few songs in the cave. This was a great treat for all of us.
Also, the Polish team was partially supported by the National Geographic Expeditions Council, and a Nat Geo film crew was on the island covering their expedition. During this time, I was able to spend one day with the film crew and the Polish team. This was very interesting to me because I was able to see how they were setting up their story board for the documentary. This was really cool.
I'm really looking forward to my return to the island in June/July. Rapa Nui is an amazing place. It has quite a grip on me.
Image: Alicia inspecting two skulls found by the Polish Expedition Team. These skulls were likely placed within this side passage for tourists. Note the mandibles on both skulls. Bone had infilled several of the tooth sockets. These skulls likely belonged to older people.