August 31, 2007

Lembongan Tree Snails
Jungutbatu (Nusa Lembongan), Indonesia

Confused by the mysterious Lembongan tree snails.

A hasty egress from Kuta beach was the racing heart moment of the day, courtesy of the almost too late discovery that I hadn't updated my alarm for the new time zone we were in (since leaving Java). As a result, the hour I thought Tatiana and I had for a casual breakfast disappeared, turning into a concerned dash for our bus.

Nusa Lembongan is an island off the southeast coast of Bali. Most folks visit the island on an arranged tour from an agency in the vicinity of their hotel, but since nothing was keeping us in Kuta, I figured we might as well just uproot and enjoy a much needed change of scenery.

I really had no idea how small the island was—my guidebook lacked a decent map, and those found online provided no scale. It was not my intent to walk a five-month pregnant Tatiana around the circumference of the island, but today's three-hour walk turned into such a thing.

I was genuinely surprised with how arid the environment of the island was, compared with the lush jungle and paddies of green rice seen as we transited through Java and Bali. I haven't see such conditions on an island since Carriacou, an island north of Grenada in the Caribbean. With the exception of some elevation in the southern reaches, the island is practically flat.

As we proceed south out of Jungutbatu, I started noticing snail shells by the side of the road. Thinking aloud, I theorized to Tatiana that perhaps birds were plucking them from a water source and eating them in the branches above—or maybe a truck carrying shells lost some of its cargo on the sloped curves.

It wasn't long after that such theories evaporated—the snails were in the trees. At first they were hard to spot, but as we continued our walk, most every single branch and truck in sight was simply covered in snails.

I found the sight of the clustered groups of large, stationary snails to be absolutely fascinating—a sentiment that Tatiana did not share. As I snapped photos, Tatiana shielded her unborn baby's eyes—"No mires, hijito!" (Don't look, son).

A curious bit about the snails is they're completely absent on the rest of the island—only seen in the southern reaches. Perhaps it has something to do with the slight gain in elevation, as the type of trees don't seem to vary much from north to south.

Either way, combined with the seaweed farming, the weird sand that looks like grass fertilizer, and the dry micro-climate, Nusa Lembongan is certainly one odd little island.


October 21st, 2007

Your continuing travels are a never-ending source of reading pleasure. The one thing that I would ask that you ponder a bit more is the problem of stray dogs — the pitiful little creatures that you've found and opined about in numerous countries. Yes, their presence is disconcerting. But, remember that behind every emaciated, diseased, and miserable stray is some indifferent, callous, or cruel HUMAN — someone too poor or too ignorant or too "whatever" to have his/her animals spayed or neutered. Or, who abandoned a litter of puppies after the fact. Or, who simply moved on to another setting and left the little creature to fend for itself. The suffering endured by these abandoned or homeless dogs is incalculable. Yet, considering their service and loyalty (the service and loyalty of their kind) to mankind over the centuries, they at least deserve, it seems to me, our sympathy — even when that's all that we have to offer. Rather than be disgusted by their presence and appearance, I am outraged more by the fact that they would not be found in numbers and condition that they are — from village to village, city to city, country to country — where it not for those of God's creatures who got "The Big Brain" and who was put in charge of ALL of His Creation.

Just a thought for your consideration.

Prof. Dr. D

The United States


March 19th, 2010

We have these same snails in Bulgaria and they are only found around parts at the Black Sea coast. Very strange how they appear out of nowhere and then disappear

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