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Harvest Time in the Spice Islands

22 Sep Sun-drying cloves on blue tarpaulin by the roadside. Pulau Ternate, Maluku, Indonesia.

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Ever wondered where cloves come from?

Well. They come from many places now. But in the beginning, they came only from the Moluccas, the mysterious Spice Islands, a spattering of tiny volcanic islets which spawned unimaginable riches for their rulers and sparked the European powers’ race to the East.

It’s harvest time on Pulau Ternate, once the heart of an empire that stretched as far as Papua, Sulawesi and Mindanao in the Philippines, now just one more tiny volcanic peak breaking out of the Maluku Sea. So we jumped a bike up the slopes of the Gamalama volcano at the core of the island to see the cloves being harvested near the village of Air Tege Tege. Continue reading