After laying on the beach and relaxing for a few days (I even got a pedicure), we decide it’s time to do some touristing. Our hotel offers a ridiculously expensive day trip to a local spice farm and Stone Town combo. While I’m really glad we did it, I don’t feel it was worth the $70 we each paid. But we did it and I’m going to share it with you! We’re greeted by several chickens and roosters.
Our guide takes us around to all the different plants and has us guess by looking and smelling first, before he tells us what it is. The first couple are easy for me.
I know you can’t smell them, but can you guess what they are? It’s pepper and lemongrass! The smell of the lemongrass really gives it away. The next one is harder for me. It looks like coffee, but the trees are so tall and not at all like coffee plants I’ve seen in Costa Rica or mainland Tanzania.
Turns out it is coffee! This is robusta coffee which grows as a tree instead of the arabica coffee which is the smaller plant variety. Next our guide hands us some leaves and tells us to smell them. It’s so familiar, but what is it? He then hands us a piece of bark…
Cinnamon! The bark smells SO good! This is where it comes from. It really looks like any other tree.
This next one was also so familiar but hard to figure out.
Do the brown ends give it away? It’s a vanilla bean. It smells SO good. Apparently because the bees that pollinate the flowers don’t live in this area, all the vanilla flowers have to be hand pollinated. On top of this, the flower only lasts for a day so the plants must be checked daily. All these things are the reason vanilla is the second most expensive spice, after saffron.
The next plant you’d never guess just by looking at it. It’s turmeric. Just like ginger, the root is the edible part. While it’s mainly used for food coloring in this area, it’s actually a very nutritious spice, good for joints and inflammation!
This next one really stumps Amy and I. The seed is the part that’s used, and the casing around it. The fruit is discarded.
The red casing is mace and the seed inside is nutmeg. Once they tell us, it all makes sense.
I’ve seen this Jackfruit before in Thailand and India. It’s so large, it’s literally the size of my head and kind of tastes like a mix of pineapple and banana.
The first picture is ginger and the second is mango.
Can you guess the next few?
The first 2 pictures are cacao which is where chocolate comes from. It’s the seeds inside the fruit that are roasted and ground into chocolate. The last picture is cloves before they’ve been dried. You can totally see it, right?
The red fruits below look like lychee, but they’re actually achiote, more commonly known as the lipstick tree. The seeds inside are often used as a lipstick or face paint as assistant guide shows us. It’s kind of hard to see on him, but he has it on his lips and forehead.
Our tour ends with a demonstration of how to climb a coconut tree. This guy can really get up there!
As we head back to the car, we stop to buy spices and try all the fruits we’ve seen. As we’ve been taking the tour, our assistant guide made us all sorts of jewelry from grass. We look so glamorous!
Now it’s time to head to Stone Town for another walking tour. More on that later!