After G W Bush's "mission accomplished" event on the deck of the aircraft carrier involved in the Iraq invasion, I'll never utter these words without a question mark after them. With the question mark added, they are apt for our last day here. We think we've got a great set of samples to bring home. The map I'm including shows they're well distributed across the island. But until we do the work in the lab, we won't really know if we've accomplished the mission.
Dave's idea of packing for a big overseas field trip is to find old shoes that are about die, and to wear them until they die. This seems risky to me, but at least means he doesn't have to clean them to get back into NZ.
Today was our last full day on the island, so Dave went for a long hike. When he returned, he pronounced his shoes to be dead.
Today was our "day off" again, which meant we started packing and writing our report.
I thought I'd tell you about the mana vai which the people of Rapa Nui used, and still use, to grow crops. Within stone walls, the plants are well protected from the wind; this conserves water (vai). This is very helpful for the more tropical plants brought from Polynesia. Here our guide Soro has ginger in one hand and a sugar cane in the other. Mark and John were impressed, and there's more sugar cane behind John.
The other photo shows a much tidier mana vai, which we saw in the same area while we were looking for places to sample soil.
Today we sampled a site quite some distance around the north coast. Here's a view of our site (with a calf for scale), which contained about 2 meters of nearly rockless soiI. It took researchers a long time to recognize that all these rocks were put in place by people to reduce water losses from cultivated plants. Amazing, eh?