My arm hurts, and I’m kind of happy about it. I just had Yellow Fever and Polio subcutaneous vaccines, the third and fourth–or more, I forget–in a series of inoculations. The reason? In January, I am going to Africa to visit gemstone mines in Kenya and Tanzania.
If you read this blog, you already know that I am interested not just in gems, but where they are from. So, I get to go straight to the source and see where some of the world’s most incredible Ruby, Sapphire (in a rainbow of colors), Spinel, Tanzanite, Garnet, Zircon, Chrysoberyl, Tourmaline, Quartz, plus Apatite, Scapolite, Danburite and others come from. I want to see the whole story, from the beautiful to the poignant. And I get to take you with me.
What makes this trip take on a shimmery, once-in-a-lifetime quality is that I’m not just going to Africa, but I am going with a film crew. Yes, you read that right. I get to see the gem trade up close and in person, as part of a jewelry documentary film Sharing the Rough. Sharing the Rough will be a film about jewelry, from the East African mine to the final, finished sparkle. And with all the human touch and drama imparted to the stones along the way.
I am traveling with Roger Dery, respected gemstone cutter and dealer, teacher, traveler and philanthropist. “This is Africa” is Roger’s (trademarked?) phrase that we may be using a lot while we’re there. In other words, this is not your average pleasure trip. Electricity is optional and frequently a non-starter. There may be physical dangers. There most certainly will be eye-opening emotional encounters.
To prepare, Roger has sent no fewer than 12-13 emails so far, outlining and detailing everything from visa applications to inoculations to hydration at 4500 feet above sea level. There might have to be a whole post devoted to What Would Monica Wear: Africa Edition (you should know that I don’t wear beige. Ever.).
I can’t wait to send missives–everyday, hopefully–about life in Africa, our experiences, and the look into the miner’s lives. I say hopefully everyday, as that will depend on the vagaries of our situation there. I may be patching into my Macbook Air via InReach satellite, plugged into a field generator. I want you to feel like you are with me, a vicarious experience. But without, you know, the shots and malaria pills, and the massive time difference.