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.