Monday, October 11, 2010

Full Cultural Immersion

Laminated promotional materials? Check. Minivan pick up? Check. Face painting? Check. "Traditional" all-inclusive dinner and dancing? Check (beer excluded, fresh water included). We were definitely in for a tourist experience at Te Ra'ai. So it was with great apprehension that we walked through the front door and accepted our "guava sour" welcome drink.

First on the agenda was traditional Rapa Nui face paint. I forgot to ask if it was hypo- allergenic.  I hope it was not made from guano or some other animal poop-based product.

Long lost brother?

One of us has not yet perfected the art of the one-chin self-portrait pose

Next we broke into male and female groups and learned traditional Rapa Nui dance moves. In Dave's circle the chieftain/instructor/model/actor asked if anyone did not speak Spanish, and not wanting to miss a word of this expensive history and dance lesson, Dave raised his hand high, and because he was the only non-Spanish speaker each instruction was provided to the group in Spanish, and then directly (and slowly) in English to Dave. This resulted in far more individualized attention than one hopes for in cross-cultural dance lessons. Each move was scrutinized and then critiqued in broken English to all the Spanish speakers' delight. Next time he will surely follow Jesse's strategy of laying low, or best case scenario, being boxed out of the dance circle entirely by a group of over-eager Chilean seniors. We will both be sure to look out for the octogenarians the next time we are learning local dances. What a shame that there was no one there to document our efforts.

Once we'd (Dave, with his individual instructor) mastered various hip thrusts and warrior stomps, we went out back to observe a traditional ceremony surrounding the preparation of the food. Our hosts sang a song to bless the meal and then began to dig up the many layers of food wrapped in banana leaves and placed under hot rocks to cook.

This may look like a smoking pile of garbage, but it was actually our delicious meal.
We sat down to our feast of fish, meat, chicken, pork, rice, sweet potatoes, salsa and many unidentifiable starches, and chatted in english with our multi-lingual table mates. After dinner it was time for the real show (thankfully amateur free) of traditional Rapa Nui songs and dances performed by scantily clad Rapa Nuians (think coconut bras for girls and loincloths for men). It turned out to be really fun and enjoyable- the dancers
seemed really into what they were doing. So much so that the audience members in the font row were drenched with the sweat of the male dancers. Gross. Nevertheless, we did enjoy the loincloths.
Fierce.  Show me fierce.


Thunder from (almost) Down Under
And seriously, if Dave put on a loincloth and grew out his hair, he could totally pass for an indigenous, though slightly less fit, Rapa Nui.

Plaid is a traditional, but rare, Polynesian print.

These are not spirit fingers

Where's the canoe?

New friends.

Full cultural immersion.
But in the end, and despite our somewhat critical (but all in good fun) review, the show was really fun. The Dancers were really into it, and the dinner was delicious (especially the pork, duh).

JDMesh says: Hauza Te Ra'ai.

• Double Hauza (really good)
• Hauza (good)
• J'OK (OK)
• Ish don't think so (bad)
• Will freeze your cankles (really bad)


  1. hi. this looks like a lot of fun. shame you won't be home in time to teach the Rapa Nui to the family, for denenberg's wedding. we love your pics; we never saw dave in make up before!

  2. I loved the make up but wanted to see Dave in an actual costume...maybe next time!

  3. Dave is shipping his loin cloth back to yardley, so keep an eye out for it :)

  4. Wow, looks so fun! J - we missed you dearly in Charleston this weekend where we also embraced the local culture, but more in terms of Firefly and fried shrimp than face paint and warrior stomps. Speaking of your rating should see the cankle (and accompanying limp) that Scott is sporting from squash right now. Poor guy...

  5. Whats firefly? Can't wait to see the pics!
    Poor Scott! Did Rattner trip him?

  6. Why are you guys dressed for fall?


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