Jet engines starts my heart pounds, Taxiing out, full power, taking flight as we leave the ground. Africa, here at last!
21 hours of travel went so fast. Preparations complete, all behind me now, Inoculations, visas, tickets: more bags then they allow.
I descend the stairs in fright. A minority…I’m the only one that’s white. Our friend is waiting he leads us through the throng to his car.
At five the next morning I find myself pouring coffee from a nestles jar.
The roads were narrow, twisty and filled with holes. We stopped for lunch, ate rice and beef from dirty bowls. We went to Ghana in search of wealth. What we found was a torn up country and folks in poor health. Children and grandmas hands outstretched. That I was in Redlands just yesterday seemed far fetched.
We hiked along a riverbed. Men and boys digging looking oh so ragged. Some are chanting diamond, diamond, diamond, DIAMOND…please! Three teens stopped there chanting and looked at us with unease. Their hands and feet smeared with brownish red clay. I smiled and asked, have you found any diamonds today? They shook their heads as they dug through the mud. They danced as they found a diamond the size of a grain of sand, but to me it wasn’t much good.
After a week of delays, and a new visa I boarded Air Afrique. Only 20 minutes in the air when it started to break. The left engine spewed a stream of gray smoke. They call this airline “sometimes air”; a chill ran down my spine as I realized this wasn’t a joke.
We landed grateful, me praying… in Conakry.
It’s been 7 long days since I’ve been in the land of the free. I rented a car, a driver and partnered with a man named Bah Mamado.
He asked what I wanted art gold diamonds? Am I transparent too? Turns out he is the most famous man in the land. He led the Guinea soccer team to the World Cup, it was grand. We traveled by land rover on muddied trails. Some of the landscapes were taken from hell
We slept on floors, got held at gunpoint. It was at this juncture I decided to get out of this joint.
Air France to Paree, Paree to New York. It seems I had chosen adventure in the road of life and taken the wrong fork. As my flight taxied off the runway clapping, and relief were audible sounds. I got of the plane tired, happy safe, I saw the red, white and blue knelt down and kissed the ground.
My travels to Africa in search of diamonds for Emerson & Farrar is the basis for this poem.