Recap: I met Dr. Abdul Sheriff, had lunch by a restaurant with a terrific seaview and went on tour of Stone town (the place I was staying at)
Spice Tour: So we were planned to do a Spice Tour today. I had already been on a spice tour in Sri Lanka so I didnt really expect anything new but I was pepped up nonetheless. The Spice Farm was around 45 minutes away from where we were staying. Everyone seemed to be falling asleep but I’m one of few (?) people who can’t really do that. I like watching every single thing going on outside my window. I take in everything because honestly, each and every second counts. I don’t know if I’m going to go to another country soon or morbidly, I don’t know if I have another day, a month or a year to live. Life catches up with you and when I’m given a chance to be away from my schoolwork and in a beautiful country, I hate wasting any second of it.
I literally felt like I was touring India. I could see tiny shops that sold snacks, people living in somewhat thatched houses, street vendors, children playing football on muddy sideroads- an all too familiar scene with the difference of language.
The Spice Farm was…green. Crowded with trees, bushes, plants and shrubs of all kind. As one of my friends captioned it in an Instagram post later, ’50 shades of green’. Our tour guide stood in a small clearing right before the forest and explained to us that he wanted to play a little game with us. Whenever we approached a tree, he would give us its leaves, or part of its bark, or show us a fruit and we would have to figure out what plant that was. I think that pretty much set a competitive mood and there were rounds of vigorous sniffings of lemon leaves and cinammon barks. We saw pineapples, jackfruits, henna and starfruit (I had never seen a starfruit before and was completely fascinated- picture on the left). I won the “competition” (As usual, haha) and the guide presented me with a tree branch plucked out of a random tree.
People jokingly complained that I knew the spices because I was Indian (trust me, I can’t. You can ask my mom who is a testament to my poor kitchen skills.) Most of the trees/plants in Zanzibar were all imported from India.
The only tree original to Zanzibar according to the tour guide, was the “lipstick tree” (pictured right) . You broke off the fruit which had reddish seeds and when crushed they produced a reddish-orange tinted “lipstick shade”. All this while, our tour guide had a silent sidekick who would soundlessly guide our tour guide. When we approached the tree, he proceeded to apply the shade all over his lips and made tribal markings on his cheeks which oddly, didn’t look that bad at all. I was tempted to try it but didn’t because I didnt know how many hours in the shower it would take before it came off.
There were also a couple of fields left to the women for rice cultivation. Speaking of women, the tour guide kept connecting the plants to the women of Zanzibar. When we approached the henna tree, he told us that Zanzibar practised polygamy and women had to compete with each other to get a good husband or to please an already existing one. Three days before the marriage, the women would have to apply henna and were not allowed to go outside until the wedding. (What?!). He introduced us to nutmeg plant and said women ate it to overcome shyness and it made their eyes seem bigger and irresistible. (Again, what?) It was pretty entertaining though and all of us couldn’t help ourselves from being slightly amused and teasing one of the members of the group who was about to be married soon.
We also stopped at this place where we could buy scented soaps and perfumes made from things grown on the farm. (Guilty of buying tonnes)
Next we came to a big clearing which had a couple of benches set up where we would be fruit testing or sampling fresh fruits. We sat on the benches and washed our hands in bowls of water. A man would bring out a fruit and would chop it expertly turn by turn into our outstretched hands. I don’t think I’ve ever had fresher fruits. The oranges, bananas and even pineapples seemed so pure and sweet.
We headed over to another area where there was a huge coconut tree and a man who the tour guide called “butterfly” ( I still have no idea why) kept singing a soulful ballad in Swahili while climbing up the tree. We also got to drink coconut water and ate the neatly cut empty coconut afterwards. A man also weaved together rings, bracelets and crowns from long leaves. I’m not going to lie, I did get some Jungle Princess/Tarzan/Jungle Book vibes. (Future ambitions)
Lunch: We had lunch at this place called Ocean Grill where I ordered chicken in cocunut sauce, rice, vegetables and fries. The chicken in coconut sauce basically turned out to be Indian chicken curry. So basically, Zanzibari food has been influenced and seasoned by a lot of Indian spices which is why I felt like I was eating homemade food since it had a familiar sense of smell and taste. I think the prices of all the restaurants so far were pretty reasonable. This restaurant had a beautiful view of the beach and the setting sun. (AS ALWAYS. SO JEALOUS OF ZANZIBARIS)
Dinner: We went back after lunch and the hours just seemed to pass by while I showered and watched a random episode of Scream Queens (I think my television peeked into my soul and processed what movies/shows I have a love-hate relationship with and played them all). We went to this tiny place called Archipelago cafe which was located almost at the shores of the beach where I had plain grilled chicken and fries. I didn’t really like the grilled chicken this time, it had an overtly peppery taste but I really like the fries in Zanzibar. (They’re really thick. And seasoned withthe right amount of salt. McDonald’s are you listening?)