If one took a helicopter ride above and around the small island of Nusa Penida they would see some of the most awesome rock and land formations anywhere on earth.
If one navigated it’s terrain they would find a stark contrast to what they saw from the air. Half the roads look and drive like they have been shelled by an enemy artillery unit. The ocean surrounding the island delivers to its beaches a daily deluge of waste spanning the spectrum of plastic to clothes to metal. Most of the interior of the island has a layer of trash on the ground similar to a tarp someone might put on grass to keep it from getting wet.
For an island that is heavily reliant on tourism, it does not make sense to me. When I was there we could collect 8 large garbage bags of trash on the beach per hour.
The people could not have been more welcoming to Kelly and me. A simple smile and hello was our greeting to each other at first and by the end of the week we had little children hugging us.
And that is my hope for Nusa Penida - the children, like the one in the picture below. They can fix this situation but they need to do it with some degree of speed. The island is being built up at a feverish pace. When we were snorkeling with Manta Rays, one of Nusa Penida's coolest tourism experiences, there was plastic in the ocean next to us.
Is there a point where nature pushes back? If so, I would not want to be there when it does.