A cycling spice tour sounded like a great idea, that is until we saw the bicycles. No zippy mountain bikes but cycling uphill with two gears in the middle of the tropical sun.
Aisling was having a great time of it as we cycled down water channelled sand and mud paths through the forest to the spice plantation. Several times we were overtaken by local guys with their ox pulled cart which barrelled down the path.
Zanzibar was famous for spice trading and still the cultivation of cloves is a large part of the economy here. At the spice farm we were brought around to various trees and bushes in an attempt to guess what they were. Having only seen the end product in Schwartz glass bottled at the supermarket this was harder than it sounds.
Some surprises were seeing nutmeg with a red sheath around it and the cinnamon tree where the bark makes cinnamon sticks but the roots taste like aniseed and the leaves totally different still.
Another odd find was the lipstick tree with waxy fruit which, when crushed, makes a thick red paste. Around the plantation young men from the community were hopping up coconut trees and cutting down the nuts which crashed down with a big bang.
At the end of the tour we were invited to be no less than the ‘King and Queen of Spices’ which you can tell we were thrilled with. The large dangling earrings looked particularly fetching on Aisling.
They jokingly challenged me to climb the coconut tree but after getting 3 metres up quickly said that was far enough!
Then under a canopy we had a spicy lunch while the rain poured down in the forest. After slogging back to Stone Town we decided to reward all our hard work by grabbing (non-spicy) cocktail sundowners by the waterfront.