Visiting the Spice Gardens in Sri Lanka

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Visiting the Spice Gardens in Sri Lanka

We’re beginning to get a handle on the driving style in Sri Lanka by now. I’ve often heard people talk about Italians using their horns all the time and Indian drivers who use the pavement to avoid traffic lights. Sri Lanka is a little between the two of these! The horn is used all the time although it doesn’t appear to be used in anger. Chris uses the horn every time we overtake – which is often and it appears to be a warning that the overtaking manoeuvre is just about to commence.

People do on the whole appear to follow the rules of the road and because of the state of the roads it’s not really possible to go very fast. However double overtaking is common – we often found ourselves far out on the other side of the road as we overtook a car which was itself overtaking a motorised tuk tuk! Nevertheless, we never really felt frightened – the bump of the road meant you always had something else to occupy your mind.

Finding out about Cocoa Beans at the spice garden in Sri LankaNext stop is a spice garden which Lisa, being interested in cooking, has been looking forward to since we landed. We park in a small jungle glade which is all the more pretty for the sun which glints through the various shapes of leaves. It’s hot but the shade from the trees makes it an extremely pleasant meander while been shown many of the spices we use but had no idea where they came from! Our guide explains each spice and how they’re grown. We see; green pepper corns, cocoa, cloves, cinnamon, rubber, saffron, ginger, cloves, coffee, aloe vera, lavender, vanilla, pineapple, jasmine and cardamom.

There is a strong emphasis on alternative medicines and so the guide also explains what properties each are supposed to have. So for example, cloves are supposedly good for tooth ache, ginger is good for travel sickness and black pepper seeds for constipation!

After a tour which lasts about 20-30 minutes we arrive at a wooden shelter. The roof is made of wooden logs and it has open windows without frames or glass. A couple of steps up take us to the wooden floor and our guide takes us through the products that they make from the spices. There are perfumes as well as medical products. At one point he asks me to lift my trouser leg so he can coat a small patch of my leg with one of his potions. I am not entirely sure what he’s doing but assuming that this will somehow may the skin of my leg feel “silky smooth” I play along. Ten minutes later and he rubs the lotion off and my leg certainly does feel smooth – it’s removed all hair!

Head massage at the spice gardens Sri LankaThe guide them calls some of his helpers over and the provide a full shoulder massage for Lisa and the children (I quickly make my escape on the pretext of taking a picture of them!). It does make quite a good picture with the four of them sit on the sills, legs hanging over the side having their massage. Of course, once finished there are four 100 rupee tips to hand out but it really is worth it.

Then the part which I generally dread – we get shown to the shop. If I were by myself I would probably attempt to slip out of this too but our guide is very hands on! He ably takes us to various parts of the shop and it is feeling very difficult to say no! In one slightly embarrassed moment he takes me to one side, hands me a box and explains that this is good for the bedroom. With a nod and wink he goes back to helping Lisa chose various spices (she doesn’t need much persuasion). Finally having made our purchases (without the mystery love potion) we’re on our way again.