After many months of planning, researching, mailing documents and asking many questions I was finally ready to begin packing for my whirlwind tour of East Africa. My guide, Roger Dery of Spectral Gems, had recommended that we pack light enough to take a carry on only since he has had issues with losing luggage in the past. I had already spent two weeks laying out all the necessary things (protein bars, water filter, bug spray) and then spent another week reducing the pile by 50 % (no to the mosquito net, the third pair of shoes and six skeins of yarn) My traveling companion from Minneapolis was Steve Wallner, a gem faceter. We had met earlier to book our flights together and from that brief introduction, I knew his great sense of humor was going to be a real asset on this trip. We flew into the busy Amsterdam airport and met up with the others that were joining us. Peter Torraca is a graduate gemologist and faceter from NY, Kim and Frank Yanke own a retail jewelry store in Michigan and Roger that had organized the group. He has been to the African continent many times sourcing the rough that he cuts and has many established relationships that would allow us to buy from the best and safest sources. I knew his detailed itineraries and deep experience gave our group a distinct advantage. After brief introductions, we boarded the plane for a 9 hour flight to Arusha, Tanzania.