In the middle of the South Pacific, one of the world's most remote post offices continues to do brisk business in stamps, as tourists from around the globe flock to pay their respects to the postcard, a much-maligned, antiquated but great form of expression.
The small building is hardly a palace, like the greatest post offices around the world, but the trappings of the global shipping business are there. A small bank of post office boxes stands ready. A scale is prominently displayed on the counter. A variety of commemorative stamps are on display and on sale. A small damp sponge in a plastic container is available so that customers can wet the backs of their postage without licking.
In other words, but for the tropical music playing on the radio and a small classroom-style globe with a fluorescent star marking the remote location of this island in the South Pacific, this could be a small-town post office anywhere. It isn't and that is why your letter may take a while to arrive. Fortunately, when the recipient finally picks it up they will likely be rather impressed by the Easter Island postmark.
Business on a Wednesday morning was relatively brisk for a town of only about 5,000 people. Locals picked up bills and correspondence; a couple from the mainland came in to get their passports stamped with an unofficial proof of entry. This reporter mailed three honest-to-God postcards back to the United States, at a cost of C$500 each.
A logbook of visitors -- from many countries and written in many languages -- was evidence of the worldwide appeal of this place, and the irreplaceable service it provides, even in an era of email, Skype and Instagram.
Asked if people still send lots of postcards from Easter Island, a clerk replied with a drawn out "Siiii," that indicated the glaringly obvious question fell somewhere between idiotic and offensive.
Moments later, a couple of foreign visitors with fanny packs and wide-brimmed hats to keep of the sun wandered in, probably to mail a letter home.