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A Trip to the Remote Island of ‘Big Heads’

Stetson University Athletic Director Jeff Altier and his wife Sarah have a passion for traveling to remote places around the world.

Stetson University Athletic Director Jeff Altier (wearing a Stetson Athletics jacket) and his wife Sarah recently returned from a trip to South America and Easter Island, above.

As a 35th-year anniversary trip, they traveled this summer to Brazil, Argentina and Chile, including to Easter Island in the South Pacific. The island belongs to Chile and is a five-hour flight from Santiago, or 2,300 miles west of South America. The nearest neighboring island is 1,100 miles away.

“I had to go to the place that worshipped big heads,” Altier joked this week, back in his office on the second floor of the Edmunds Center on campus. “I had no choice. It was absolutely critical for me.”

Much remains a mystery about why the ancient Polynesian people of Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, carved nearly 900 giant stone statues, called “moai,” according to National Geographic magazine. Scholars believe they may have honored chiefs and other ancestors.

“Sarah and I pride ourselves on visiting remote parts of the world. Easter Island is one of the most remote locations on the planet,” said Altier, who, along with Sarah, graduated from Stetson in 1982.

Jeff Altier with carved statues on Easter Island

Jeff Altier said he and his wife enjoyed learning more about the giant “moai,” or head-and-torso stone statues.

“We keep track of where we go. I am at 56 countries now. Sarah’s at 60,” he explained. “Our goal is to always keep the number of countries we’ve visited at our age, which I am doing. She’s further along than I am.”

-Cory Lancaster


Send Us Your Travel Photos: #HatterTravels

Hatters love to travel – around the globe and closer to home. Send us your travel photos with a Stetson Hatters logo for our #HatterTravels photo album. Be sure to send at least 300 dpi to news@stetson.edu and include: #HatterTravels in the subject line, your name, the degree and year you graduated from Stetson, your phone number, when and where the photo was taken, and full names and any other information about others in the photo.