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Published: March 17th 2009
Intricately carved wooden doors, exotic spices, and a stunning mix of architectural styles assault the senses on Zanzibar. Stone Town is a jumble of narrow alleys filled with souvenir shops, old British hotels, impressive museums, funky restaurants, and a busy beach port for the dhows that navigate between the nearby islands. There are people in all manner of colorful dress, interesting and fragrant food stalls, old grand palaces, and too much traffic. The town that was once the home of spice and slave traders, Arab sultans, and Dr. Livingstone is now a busy tourist destination with non-stop touts, dirty streets, and crumbling buildings. Still, the history and the exotic sense of the island make up for its present neglected condition.
One of the highlights of our time in Zanzibar was the tour of a spice plantation. The young local "guide" adopted us and wove palm frond jewelry, hats, ties, and baskets for us as we toured the grounds. Cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, cardamon, clove, and vanilla are all grown there. Samples of each were picked for us and placed in our palm frond basket. Halfway through the tour we were treated to a variety of fruits that are also grown at
Carved doors of Zanzibar
Many of these doors are older than the buildings. They are hand carved and the spikes were an important part of the design. It kept the elephants from knocking down the doors in earlier times.
the plantation. Many were new to us. The custard apple and the jackfruit were real winners.
Our stay in Zanzibar was very brief - only 2 days. We didn't visit the beach resorts, but felt we saw the best of Stone Town and gained a new appreciation of the efforts involved in spice production.
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