Memory, all alone in the moonlight, I can smile at the old days I was beautiful then. I remember the time I knew what happiness was let the memory live again. "- Musical "Cats" (sorry, was a theatre major, it won't happen again- at least not for a while)
Sharp green blades of grass prick your ankles. You're not quite certain how you came to be on the side of a small mountain. It is so green, the greenest green. Crayola hasn't even begun to capture green the way you see it. Standing amongst the hundreds of acres of wide open countryside you feel small and ethereal.
This was where I found myself, three years ago, when a group of friends and I embarked on a Spice Tour in Zanzibar led by Eco and Culture Tours.
There are many spice tours in Zanzibar. Few of those tours rival the experience of Eco and Culture.
We were whisked away in an immaculate white van for an hours ride out of the city of Stone Town into what seemed the heart of the earth. The reddest roads, the greenest trees, the smell of fresh rain in the air revealed themselves in layers as our van plop, plop, plopped over potholes and rivets.
In a large open field we gathered. Our small tour was led through a cacophony of colors and textures. Cinnamon, black pepper, jasmine and cardamom scented the air. We rambled through forests and villages. We met smiling short haired children. We saw the most beguiling brown eyes, watched amazed as butterflies landed on our hands, sampled tropical passion fruit, jackfruit, star fruit, and the fabled durian- have you ever tasted a gym sock?
Between stops beneath large shade trees, we learned of the many medicinal, culinary and traditional uses of the spices grown and harvested in the great green fields. We learned of Arab traders and African healers, of European exploration and the infusion of spices from India.
Three hours later, looking out over the distant hills and green spaces, a meal was prepared for us by local village woman. Shoes off, seated on colorful patterned blankets we filled ourselves with savory spiced beans, vegetables and squash until our fingers were tinged yellow with tumeric.
After lunch, a makeshift market was set up so we could purchase (very reasonably priced) spices, essential oils, and fruit. And before we could so much as look back, we were off. Downhill, our van sputtered, over red red roads, past green green vines, towards the narrow ancient charm of Stone Town.
As mosques signaled the call to evening prayer, we stepped from the van, havaianas meeting cobblestone, stars still in our eyes.
The BEST Zanzibar Spice Tours are through Eco and Culture Tours
The tours are a half-day event and cost around $50.00 (this includes transport and a great meal you won't soon forget).
P.O. Box 1390
+255 242 233 731
*I am in no way, shape, or form being paid to promote Eco & Culture Tours. I am simply a dedicated enthusiast.
Do you have a favorite travel memory that invigorates your senses?