gemstone mining

#idazzletravels: Kenya and Tanzania Part Two: The Mines

As I described in Part One, I’m obsessed with the gems I find in East Africa, both mineral and of the human variety. But I’m not gonna lie. Seeing the gem mines is a huge reason that I travel to East Africa. Who knew that I’d tolerate cargo pants and snarled hair and red dirt [...]

Larger than Life: A Tribute to Gichuchu Okeno

I am numb. Stunned. Two weeks ago today I was FaceTiming with Gichuchu Okeno, gem dealer, mine owner, father, husband, and friend. And today he is gone. I’ll never hear his laugh again. It’s hard to reduce a life down to its essence, to mere words. Okeno…

#idazzletravels Gemstone Adventures: a Mine in Kenya

On a recent Monday, I saw a posting on Facebook by Gichuchu Okeno, a miner, gem dealer and all-around Kenyan Renaissance man about progress at his tsavorite garnet mine in southern Kenya. Me, making a (relatively idle) Facebook comment…

Sharing the Rough: Into the Mine!

I am on the precipice. Can I do it? The sun beats down on my uncovered head, dazzling my eyes against the dark hole yawning about seventy feet down below. I’m standing on the edge of a gemstone mine in Kenya, with a decision to make. It is now or maybe never. The mouth of [...]

To Africa, With Love

I’m not sure anything or anyone can fully prepare a westerner for a trip to Africa. I went in to this adventure thinking I knew what to expect. And then I arrived. East Africa is a land of contrasts and contradictions. There is no infrastructure. I had expectations of spotty wi-fi, iffy cell coverage. We [...]

Gem Hunt and Sharing the Rough: Going to Africa

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…