Litter From Indonesia — Rubble In Paradise: Cleaning Up The Looney Front
The large monitor lizard rests on a bed of filthy litter — plastic bottles, wrappers, jars — on the lushly jungled shore of soaring Rakata island, the most important remnant of, arguably, probably the most famous volcanic eruption in human history, when Krakatoa literally blew its high in 1883. No one now lives here, or on nearby Anak Krakatau, Child of Krakatoa, the active, smoking, still rising volcano that pushed although the sea’s floor in 1927, and now tops 1,000 feet.
Large monitor lizard on bed of litter.
But Krakatoa’s remnants lie in the the Sunda Strait, between Sumatra and Java, and nature’s tides and currents bring huge amounts of rubbish discarded by communities along the shores of both large islands — flip-flops, plastic bottles, yogurt containers and much, much else — to the black volcanic sands of a nationwide park that should be certainly one of nature’s most pristine environments.
View of Rakata shore blissfully free of litter.
Much more paradoxical, Indonesians are usually among the many cleanest individuals on Earth, forever showering, their clothes spotless, and their homes swept squeaky clean. Yet, they’re way up there among the top competitors for a gold in the litter Olympics.
Anak Krakatau volcano with steaming fumaroles.
The lizard stirs, saunters over, sticks out a foot-lengthy bluish tongue and provides Yours Truly a few almighty swipes together with her very long, very vigorously lashing tail. Wow, that really stings, young lady. I’m not the one who dumped the garbage here!
Lizard speaks with forked blue tongue.
Wherever you go all through the huge, superbly beautiful Indonesian archipelago, you’re going to find litter, litter and then extra litter, in the most idyllic or spectacular of places. A whole bunch of miles to the north on Sumatra, the hill town of Berastagi nestles beneath two volcanoes — large, perfectly coned Sinabung soaring over eight,000 feet to the north, and the craggy battlements of 7,257-foot Sibayak sawing on the skyline to the west.
Mt. Sinabung, before recent eruption.
Sinabung began a series of eruptions in September, putting it out of bounds. But Sibayak is accessible. The scene is positively Dantesque. White and sulfur-yellow crags, sharp and noticed-toothed, soar above a fringe of verdant jungle across the caldera, hissing columns of steam swirl up from ochre-ringed fumaroles and the scent of sulfur hangs thick within the air. Welcome to Hell’s Kitchen. The Earth’s great furnaces are working additional time.
The fumaroles of Sibayak.
The panorama is considered one of utter desolation but for the brilliant young sparks who have clambered down the vertical cliffs to the crater floor to spell out their names in giant letters with pumice and volcanic rocks. A sure Jimmy seems to have the largest one.
Identify droppers at the bottom of Sibayak’s crater.
However even up here, amid this scene of forbidding perfection, plastic water bottles, Oreo wrappers, Bintang beer bottles, cans, bags and discarded lighters, litter the stark summit landscape, and the slippery path and hacked stone steps, most of them broken, that lead up by the jungle belt.
Shifting on south to Lake Toba, the minibus driver does his own little bit to bury the vast archipelago below mountains of garbage, opening his window to hurl out a soda bottle. At 360 feet, Sipiso-Piso is Indonesia’s highest waterfall — a splendid sight hurtling out of a hole from an underground river simply beneath the rim of the cliff near the lake’s northern finish. Stupendous views from the steps and walkways down — and stupendous rubbish littering the steps and walkways down.
Nearby, in a grassy enclosure, is the palace of the Similingun kings, whose line became extinct in 1947. It’s a collection of pavilions with roofs in the traditional soaring fashion, topped with horned buffalo heads — and a group of littered garbage.
View over Lake Toba from Sipiso-Piso waterfall.
In the center of a Borneo, in the Dayak longhouse settlement of Kaluas Palin, in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, a local lady kindly adds to the litter bonanza, hurling a large cardboard box and other garbage into the swirling current of a rain-swollen river. In remote Manokwari in West Papua, where spotlessly clean people dwell in wooden shacks on stilts, the canals are clogged with garbage.
Kaluas Palin Dayak longhouse.
And on the island of Flores, at the top of Mt. Kelimutu, with its craggy volcanic cliffs softened by groves of bushes and its three changing-coloration lakes — Turquoise, Brown and Black Lake — a sign written in stone says: “Local folks believe this place is sacred. Please respect this site by not doing any stone island black friday sale damage or littering.” It’s certainly not written in stone metaphorically, for litter they do, and in great profusion — plastic bottles, wrappers, cigarette butts and much else fouling the ground beyond the guard rails.
Kelimutu’s “please don’t litter” message written in stone.
Kelimutu’s Turquoise lake.
So it goes on, and not only Stone Island Jumpers in Indonesia. In Sierra Leone in Africa, Freetown’s Lumley Beach is a wonderful crescent of white sand with palms and a lush mountainous backdrop, but it surely should have one of the filthiest, most polluted waterlines ever, replete with old plastic bottles, flip-flops, footwear, toothpaste tubes, combs, tooth brushes and any previous crap you’ll be able to suppose off.
On the opposite side of the continent, in Somaliland, on the outskirts of the port of Berbera, a forest of “African flowers” spreads out within a stone’s throw of a caerulean sea — that at the least is what the locals name the thousands and thousands of discarded blue, pink and yellow plastic bags flapping vigorously from the branches of thorn trees or swarming in a mass assault over the bushes.
African flowers in Berbera, Somaliland.
More African flowers.
To the north, in Djibouti, layers of plastic bags drape the stoney arid plains and scant bushes. At Lake Assal, at 500 toes under sea level, the bottom point in Africa, a plastic bottle bobbles in one of the thermal swimming pools, a plastic spoon reposes nearer the lake and an empty tuna fish tin has taken up residence on the blindingly white salt-caked shore.
To the south-west, in Luanda, capital of Angola, on the hills above the port, the vast leprous scar of a musseque (slum) called Boavista (Good View), with satellite tv for pc dishes sprouting from its shanty tin roofs, teeters on the edge of the slopes above a cataract of foul refuse. But that’s to be anticipated of any slum anywhere, just as you expect garbage in a gully in the town centre of Wabag in Papua New Guinea.
Boavista Musseque in Luanda.
More interestingly, on the home terminal at Luanda’s Quatro de Fevereiro (February four) Worldwide Airport, the ground where verify-in clerks sit is littered with refuse — half empty food containers, plastic water bottles, reams of paper — and the clerks’ chairs are in various stages of brokenness. On the road east to the Kalandula Falls people, as usual, throw drink cans and different rubbish out of the home windows.
On the opposite side of the world in tiny Tuvalu in the South Pacific, at either end of the Funafuti atoll the place lagoon meets ocean, rubbish breeds everywhere — previous sneakers, crushed beer cans, plastic bottles, broken glass and plastic household items defile the ought-to-be pristine shores.
Pristine shore at southern end of Tuvalu’s Funafuti atoll.
Nearer take a look at “pristine” shore.
Within the Atacama desert in northern Chile, tons of of crosses and little shrines mark the spot the place drivers, drunk or otherwise, have opted for a short lower across the ravines. That is, after all, when the mass of plastic bottles, broken glass and other rubbish has not totally littered up the edges.
Road within the Atacama desert.
Even on the steppes of Mongolia, roads, fields and ovoos — heaps of stones and wood draped with blue scarves where prayers are offered up to the spirits — are littered with garbage, plastic bottles, bags, and broken glass. At the other end of Eurasia in the Caucasus, in the forests and along the trails of Mt. Kazbek in Georgia, plastic bottles appear to outnumber fish in among the streams.
Bottle close to sacred tree in Mongolia’s Chuluut gorge.
For the mother of all industrial garbage wastelands, make your method to Ebeye in the Marshall Islands, where a causeway leads six miles on across further islets to beaches stuffed with the moulding carcasses of rusted vehicles, trucks, construction equipment, steamrollers and boats, abandoned on the reef shoreline, ivy growing all over them.
Ebeye’s industrially decorated shoreline.
But if you think the scourge of litter is the monopoly of the growing world, suppose again. Even in Ottawa, capital of squeaky clear, first-world Canada, a visit to Rockcliffe Park and the Rideau Canal reveals ugly scabs strewn with garbage, broken bear bottles and Coke cans.
Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park.
Wow! I might be back in Indonesia.
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