National Geographic : 1943 Sep
367 Timor a Key to the Indies Dili came into sight down the coast. About nine o'clock the vessel anchored a half mile out from the moonlit coral reef. Preparations were made to land the heavier part of our camp supplies, which we could not bring in overland. I have not yet decided which was the more remarkable: that the Dili didn't keep right on going when she rolled from side to side, or that all the 48 boxes, which were swung over the side, dropped into a dancing small boat, and brought through the surf to the beach, were safely landed. Except for those living in the mountains, the Timor natives are small in stature and do not have much strength or stamina. For moving our supplies, therefore, we engaged twice as many carriers as would ordinarily be required and paid them each ten cents an hour Hong Kong money (then about five cents in our currency) for the scheduled time of the journey (page 363). This schedule was determined by the mili tary as the normal length of time required for a man to walk the distance with a load of about forty pounds. The time between posts is set and cannot be varied. However, we soon learned not to expect carriers to complete any journey on schedule. There is no hurry in tropical life. No Wild Animals to Fear Because the deep channel between Bali and Lombok Islands has served as a barrier to the eastward movement of large mammals, ele phants, tigers, tapirs, rhinoceroses, and other Asiatic fauna do not exist in the archipelago east of Lombok Strait. The absence of Australian mammals on Timor, the structure and depth of the Timor Sea, and the geologic formations of the island furnish evidence that Timor was probably not connected with the mainland of Australia within recent geological periods. Water buffaloes, which we saw both wild and domesticated, were probably not indige nous to Timor. Even the wild ones are not dangerous unless wounded, or disturbed while with their young. The domestic animal is val uable to the native for its milk and meat and also, to a small extent, as a work animal. There are wild horses and pigs which, like the buffaloes, may have come from domestic stock brought to the island by natives or by early white visitors. The presence of deer and monkeys, however, must be explained otherwise. The prettiest fowl on Timor is the wild cock, which the natives catch and tame for their national sport of cockfighting. A native sel dom makes a trip to a settlement without tak- C. K. Bonmz It Reddens the Teeth of the Indies Thirty feet up the trunk of the areca palm hang long bunches of orange-colored aromatic drupes called betel nuts. They are the size of a small hen's egg, astringent, pungent, nutmeglike in flavor. Split, and treated with a pinch of quicklime, they are the natives' favorite chew. Betel-nut chewing imparts a red color to the saliva, so that the lips and teeth appear to be covered with blood. It injures the teeth and in time almost destroys them.