Day 1: Monday, August 5th
Monday! Wow, what a day! We took a train to Voi, Kenya and along the way, we spotted elephants, gazelles and zebras!
Upon arrival at Voi Wildlife Lodge, a herd of zebras, giraffes, and elephants ran up to the watering hole to say hi. It was a stunning experience!
Day 2: Tuesday, August 6th
Mine visits today!
Baraka is the second oldest mine in Kenya, but the first mine owned by a woman! They have found green tourmaline and tsavorite garnet. There is red dirt with mica all over the ground and has sisal growing all around on a plantation.
The Precious Woman Mine is run exclusively by all women. All of the women working at the mine are widows. Gem Legacy got them an air compressor so they can use power tools and have air available deep into the mine.
We also delivered donated books to the Mwatate Children’s Home! The kids were so happy and joyful.
Day 3: Wednesday, August 7th
Today we bought rough gemstones into Voi! We saw all shapes and colors of gemstones from the dozens of buyers at Voi.
There were a variety of stones, from grossular garnet to sapphire. We shortly realized that buying rough gems is tough work! It is important to know about the gem type in order to know what may happen during the cutting process. Many of the stones we saw had several inclusions that were clearly visible and others transformed color when cut. We were so thankful to have Roger Dery there with his wealth of gemstone knowledge!
After a day of gemstones, we went to the Lion Lodge to take in the sunset and view Tsavo National Park! I was on the lookout for a lion, cheetah, or leopard!
Day 4: Thursday, August 8th
We traveled to the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro today and learned about the Chugga Tribe. The land is lush and the soil is mineral-rich in Marangu from all the rains coming down from “Kili”.
Tomorrow we visit a tanzanite mine on the way to gem buying in Arusha! I can’t wait to see all the different blue and purple hues.
Day 6: Saturday, August 10th
Today we decided to visit a gem rough in Arusha. It takes a very specific vision to predict what a stone will look like once it is cut. Roger Dery shared his vision and wisdom with us while we asked many questions about the specifics of gem cutting. There was an amazing selection of zircon, tourmaline, garnet, aqua, and more! I learned so much and made quite a few purchases. You’ll have to come by Cline Jewelers and take a look at the treasures we collected from Kenya and Tanzania! We can’t wait to show you!
Day 7: Sunday, August 11th
The group witnessed a true African safari today in Arusha National Park! Mount Meru was a pleasant backdrop and the beautiful acacia trees were across the Savanna. We saw a variety of animals, but the baby baboons, zebras, and giraffes were a delight! We even saw two hippos floating in a freshwater lake!
Tonight is our last night in Arusha and we are reminiscing about a wonderful trip together. Our group name is Tribe Baraca, as we bonded over our shared experience here in Africa when we traveled to the first female-owned tsavorite mine called Baraca! We are very humbled and inspired by this great experience.
Day 8: Monday, August 12th
We visited Peter Salla’s Arusha Gemological and Faceting School and met the students who are learning to facet gems. Gem Legacy delivered a new faceting machine to the school. This will allow the students to attain a higher skill level of cutting technique, which will lead to earning a higher wage.
Next, we went to the Masai Market! What a one-of-a-kind experience! We saw a wide variety of handmade items in the traditional Masai colors, red and black. We shopped among beads, fabrics, jewelry, souvenirs, and more. I sharpened my bargaining skills and found a few great things to take home to Seattle.
Did you know that for each of us that visits Tanzania, we financially impact a minimum of 150 people? Our visit makes a meaningful difference in the communities of Tanzania. Such an astonishing statistic!
Day 9: Monday, August 13th
There is a famous clock tower located in Arusha and it marks the halfway point between Cairo and Cape Town. The Arusha clock tower represents the middle of Africa. It is a popular point of interest for people visiting Arusha.
Below, is a picture of me with Vincent and Hamici. They were our guides and drivers for the entire trip, and we are grateful for their service! They kept us entertained, safe, and educated about Africa the whole time!
Gina Hawkins, G.G., C.G.