This morning, National Geographic Orion arrived at the Spice Islands in the eastern part of Indonesia. We were greeted by kora-koras, a traditional canoe from this area paddled by 25+ men. It was an incredible reception and escort to the colorful port of Banda Neira. After breakfast we were greeted by traditional song and dance before we set out to explore a community steeped in the history of nutmeg and mace.

The Spice Islands were a battleground for priority over a commodity (nutmeg) that was once more valuable than gold. Walking through the market we visited a Chinese temple which portrayed the story of the islands earliest traders who arrived here in the 16th Century.

After weaving through a bustling market scene, we headed up to Fort Belgica, an impressive Dutch fortress dating back to the 17th Century. The Dutch came to dominate the spice trade after invading British interests and eliminating the local population. The curse of nutmeg resulted in genocide and healthy profits for the Dutch East Indies Company, and at that time, Indonesia became a Dutch colony. After exploring the fort, we had a wonderful cooking demonstration in the palace that was once an office and residence for Dutch officials.