I was apprehensive traveling to Sierra Leone. The night before, I prepared myself for what I envisioned to be a ruthless and war-torn country. In my mind, this might be my last destination. It was also my childhood friend, Aaron's first destination in Africa.
I arrived in Lungi Airport in Freetown, Sierra Leone on March 24, 2008. Aaron met me in Freetown and we explored Freetown a bit before diving headfirst into African adventure, beginning with a bush taxi ride to a city we selected from the map, Mile 91. We didn't know the first thing about Mile 91, not even whether they would have a guesthouse.
Our goal? I wanted to learn about diamond mining in Sierra Leone. I wondered whether forced mining as depicted in Blood Diamond still occured, and I wondered what tools people used to extract the gems that are so valuable elsewhere in the world. Mile 91 was just the first step; we had to find our way to the diamond fields of Tongo.