Saturday, October 16, 2010

Spice and Stonetown Tour

 When in Zanzibar, one must go on the Spice Tour! T and I joined a group from our hotel on a Spice/Stonetown tour for a day towards the end of our trip. An hour drive from the east coast beaches, we arrived at a small farm, locally run, developed to attract tourists to the many colorful and fragrant spices on the island. Our tour led us on a scarcely beaten past through swaying palm trees and thick forests of fruits. Our guide would stop and quiz us on each plant, offering high-fives to those who shouted out the right answer. The women were handed a banana-leaf bowl to collect the various spices as we walked along. A local tagged along, always weaving together palms and acting as the assistant when our guide requested. Our noses filled with the sweet smells of cardamom, ginger, and cloves, fresh coconut, pineapple and papaya.

When we finished the tour, our hands stained with the yellows of turmeric and reds of the "lipstick fruit" (which is used by the Masai to paint their braids red, as well as a cosmetic), we sat to a lunch of fresh fruit, pineapple, papaya, oranges, bananas, sweets and sours. We were decorated with palm-leave ties for the men, and purses for the women. Eat had a hat, different for the ladies than the gents. Our wrists were adorned with bracelets and small woven frogs hung from our necks. We really did look like an odd bunch.

We loaded back in the van and headed to Stonetown for the second half of our tour. We started by taking a small tour of where the Slave Trade started in Zanzibar, the tight, low-ceilinged room where slaves were kept for several days before auction. We were told when high tide would come in, the room would flood, and anything in the middle of the room would be swept away with the water. We toured an old church, and the winding alleyways of Old Stonetown, admiring the beautiful details of each doorway. We ended the tour at the old museum, but none of us wanted to go inside, and we were all a little exhausted from the long day. We walked away from the group as they pack back into the van - we were leaving the next day.

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