Although Madura’s salt production has earned it the nickname Pulau Garam, it is the harvesting of other sedimentary rocks that leaves a far stronger impression.
Should a visitor make an excursion to Madura’s northeastern coastline, they will eventually find themselves in district of Batuputih, which, they ascertain, has attracted fame for the Euclidean geometry of its namesake limestone quarries.
Such pits dominate this corner of the island. Their distinct angular forms, the cumulative effect of explosive mining and the contours of natural erosion, have carved a distinct pattern onto the landscape in a series of regular layers piled atop one another, as though carefully recording the passage of history.
Batuputih stands apart from the coastline’s otherwise rural sensibilities, wherein green and vibrant rice fields hug vast stretches of uninterrupted coastline.
In contrast, the quarries’ unusual outlines, at once precise and slipshod, give rise to all manner of cryptic notions: the unrelenting whiteness of the limestone blends into shades of grey and black, intensified by the sun overhead and the quarries’ uniform abstraction, which robs the land of its perspective; this loss of depth indicates that Batuputih would serve well as a place of incarceration, for even if an inmate were to escape their confines, they would quickly suffer a form of snow blindness and become disorientated; they would lose the element of surprise, and it would amuse their captors to watch as the escapee struggled hither and thon, increasingly confounded by the endless cuboid terrain with its lone limestone towers reaching some 40 or 50 feet high.
And thus will the visitor find that Batuputih is a surreal and unique setting seemingly designed to confound and confuse. So too will they note that the location retains an air of mystery: no signage signifies its existence, no guards prowl its boundaries; even the cries and calls of nature are conspicuous by their absence.