On a hot sunny day we joined a tour to the adjacent island of Pulau Besar to see the nutmeg trees that put these islands on the map.
A wet landing took us to the town of Lonthoir, an obviously prosperous settlement whose residents seem to try to outdo each other in Crayola color combinations.
These islands are steep, and the fitness program on my phone was delighted that I was finally exercising my passage-weakened legs.
The tropical sun is hard on the nutmeg trees, so the planters shade them with huge and beautiful almond trees that are so big I can’t get a whole tree in the frame.
At the plantation the owner demonstrated how they pick the nutmegs with what looks like a lacrosse stick, then he cut open several nutmegs and almonds so we could all smell and taste the fresh fruit and nuts.
Then we were on to cinnamon, another of the traditional crops of these spice islands. We all stood around like Ewell Gibbons chewing on tree bark and agreed that its fresh, pungent, bordering on hot spicy flavor reminded us of the candy Red Hots.
Walking back through town we saw nutmegs and cloves drying in front of many of the houses and realized the spices are produced not just by the plantations but by nearly everyone on the islands. The scent is nearly intoxicating.
We climbed a little further to the remnants of the Dutch fort for a spectacular view of the volcano and the anchorage below.
We ended the tour with cinnamon tea and nutmeg coffee and more of the friendly faces we’ve become accustomed to here in Banda.