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The flight, whilst going over the Sahara, was fuckin scary, he thought.  The turbulence was that bad he ended up tucking his toes underneath the seat in front of him. This gave him some kind of stability to his own body whilst the chartered A333 shook violently, more than he liked. 

 He could feel the energy from the plane change when the French pilot switched on the safety belts light, he heard a few murmurs. And then, to make matters worse, when he finished the warning about the approaching heavy turbulence there were a few 'Oh No's' from the passengers ahead of him. Jason was fine with this, he'd flown around the world and come across pockets of air many times. But it made sense in the pilot's voice that it was going to be pretty heavy. 

 What made him really shit himself was when the matted doors from the above baggage storage flung open and began tumbling over the walkway in the centre, and onto a few passengers heads. This was bad enough for some of the crowd on the plane who let out a "Oh Lord God Help Us", and cries of "Please have mercy on us". 

  He desperately gripped his hands over the plastic arms on his chair next to the aisle. Luckily there was an empty middle seat but the guy on the window seat looked over at him, and calmly said 'I Dink The Pilot Is Goin Too Faaast' in a very heavily Western African English accent. He didn't reply, just nodded in agreement, trying to look calm but shitting himself all the same. 

 But what really did it for the passengers, and really got Jason's heart racing, was when the young 20 something blonde air hostess attempted to collect the fallen baggage. At the moment when she bent down to collect two bags on the floor the plane must have dropped 6-10 feet and she was flung upwards,, then instantaneously flung back down again, where she lay semi-conscious.  Luckily she never hit heard on the ceiling above, just landed heavily.

 Momentarily, almost like an electric shock, all passengers who witnessed the accident let out a thunderous cry of concern. A collection of "AAaaaaah this cannot be, I am not ready to die", and screams of "Noooooo", and finally, "Child, poor child, someone help her, don't let her die alone".  

 As much as it was serious Jason let out a snigger because he knew no plane had ever gone down due to turbulence. But he was concerned for the hostess who appeared knocked out.  Luckily all passengers had heeded the pilots advice and buckled up so no-one else was hurt . He did wonder why the air hostess came out of her own seat but probably assumed it was because of the baggage being thrown around the plane. Her risk he thought, and unfortunately, she judged it wrong. He looked again at the very attractive young lady who was now getting to her feet, quite voluptuous, nice chest. There was no blood, and surprisingly no tears so Jason thought she must be tougher looking that she appears. 

 'I bet she could take a right good hammering' Jason thought to himself whilst trying very hard not to burst out laughing. Luckily this thought process was distracted from some concerned voices on the plane. The air hostess put on a forced smile whilst still picking up the fallen bags. 

 She moved very quickly, maybe it was adrenaline he surmised, and was back in her seat within a minute. Nice teeth and smile, pale skin, around 5"5, yes Jason hoped he would bump into her whilst she was on the four day layover between flights. She was fit, not his usual brunette, but would help pass the time. 

 They arrived in Lunghi International Airport, Freetown, Sierra Leone 30 minutes later with no further interruptions. His second time in the country. 

 Getting through passport control was something else. It was sheer pandemonium at passport control. Whilst the passengers pretty much fought one another to get into line Jason was continually poked, his shoulder tapped on, and approached by staff who worked there. 

 Often they would demand Jason would give them his own baggage for them to carry through, clearly for a small fee. Other's said they would take it right to his house, they just wanted to know where he was staying, to which he didn't have a clue as John's address was unknown to him.

This time it wasn't a complete culture shock from being in this tiny, post war country.  Although the extreme poverty did affect him.  It was clear many people relied on handouts from the various international charities in the capital, Freetown. He could see the mismatch in the clothing on some of the people there. Oversized shoes on a large fat man with beady eyes, looking to connect with a Westerner, desperate to top up his meagre wages.  Or clothes that didn't fit the young lady helping people into the queue, making her look older than her years. Trousers on a tall thin man that were too wide with a string cord strapped around his waist to act as a much needed belt.  

Equally, what didn't bother Jason this time round was how often he was pestered for money, especially from the locals, this was even from people who worked at the airport, they lacked any type of dignity. Jason learned that provided he didn't make direct eye contact with them, didn't register any type of recognition then they would leave him alone. This made him reflect some more on their dire situation, maybe they were so used to being ignored. 

 Maybe he was like a lottery ticket to them. A white man on a plane to their country, and on this occasion, the only one.  He quickly thought that the people who pestered him for money had never been out of their country. He could only guess they  fantasised to escape their situation, from books, films, TV about what Europe, and the UK was like. Compared to the outright poverty before him, where he was from, it must have seemed like heaven to them. 

  After literally wrestling away some young man from his baggage Jason worked through customs and met his contact, John, outside in the airport. Automatically he was hit with the humidity and the chaos that was this scene before him. The sheer intense heat hit Jason like a steam train, it really was severe and quite unlike anything he had experienced before.  It made him stall momentarily whilst he gathered his senses. 

 Equally, what he viewed before him made quite an impact too. All types of ware were on offer for sale around the roads coming into the airport; beads, drinks, alcohol, food, recycled car tyres made into shoes, dishes made from metal.  As well as other people offering their services in getting him to a taxi, despite being one minute walk away from the rank. The desperation, or was it opportunism, he noted in these very lively people. There were delivery trucks, taxi's, people walking with bags, and other ladies offering a certain type of service too. It really was chaos, but it seemed to work. 

  After the preliminary greetings were over, and Jason jokingly talked about his near death experience on the plane, John went through his itinrary during his planned 8 day stay. They were due to meet the Vice President as well as the Chief Medical officer in the country, and possibly the chief procurement officer too.  After that they were to travel to Bo town and then further afield to a village called Kanema, where they were due to meet the village head.  On both occasions they would meet some people who could provide what they were looking for.

 Jason had previously met John in the UK. They began chatting whenever Jason picked up his niece and nephew from their infant school. He often noticed the largely built, rotund, black men who appeared nervous but always said 'Hello' and shook his hand, always looking him in the eye. Which was always a plus for Jason.   It turned out John had a son in his nieces class, and another son who was  two years older. 

 Over time they began talking and Jason became fascinated by the fact that John was from Sierra Leone, West Africa and told him some harrowing stories about the war, and some very interesting ones before that. John explained his country was very peaceful and prosperous before the war. He had been to University there and received a degree in maths, to Jason, was like learning rocket science. 

 This went on for 12 months, and their friendship grew. John was polite enough not to enquire about how Jason had so much free time, dressed in designer clothes, and was always abroad. Jason just used the excuse that he was in corporate sales and flew abroad quite often, to which he did but for an altogether different purpose. 

 Then one hot summer, humid night, Jason was at John's for a BBQ.  There were many kids running around, a few friendly loud African families, to which Jason found amusing.  It was a great party, family atmosphere and he was made to feel very at home, and comfortable. The host was a little drunk, happy, and singing a few songs and trying to teach Jason Krio, the main unofficial language in Sierra Leone. "Ow Dee Body?", was the first thing he learnt. Basically saying 'How are you?'.  And when he tried, and failed a few times people around burst out laughing and gave their interpretation on how it should be said.  

 Out of nowhere John pulled him aside and said  he has to come to his country. This went on and on and this time round Jason noted his new friend was quite insistent that he join him for a trip to his country, saying it both in their both interests, financially. To which Jason's sharp ear's pricked up.

 Suddenly John pulled him further into his house, ordered his colourfully dressed wife out into the garden, to which she obliged. Out of his pocket he pulled out a handkerchief and unwrapped it. Inside was a collection of small and medium sized diamonds, all cut and shining like bright stars. 

 At that moment Jason knew he just had to get to Sierra Leone. At that moment he knew his life would change, again. 

  The next day, and slightly hungover after celebrating their new business arrangement, Jason used his connections in the underworld to find out what colour stones would be of use to the Diamond Sellers in Hatton Gardens, London and the jewelry quarter in Birmingham. In the weeks since John shown him the stones Jason went in overdrive and learning all he could about the diamond trade and buying uncut stones.   He understood he was out of his depth and need to satisfy himself that he could safely buy some stones and make it a successful venture. 

 He also knew he was going right out to the jungle to some remote villages in this tiny country, he understood the dangers.  But equally he understood what it meant to those people in these villages, and in the second city - Bo town. A white man in their country would stand out like a sore thumb. It could either go against him or for him. 

 The first time he went over was more about seeing the capital and getting a sense of what they would need.  Despite experiencing a huge culture shock over the sheer poverty Jason was still keen to go further out and experience this venture some more. This time they hired a jeep, and had brought lots of water and food for their trip. 

The next day he was due to meet the Vice President and other government officials. Jason did say to himself that he better be very clear and confident about his cover story as to why he was in their country. Otherwise, his imagination in overdrive now, he could ended up some jail getting gang raped by some hardcore African criminals.  

Bio:  Jason, the main character in the series, gains a new contact and a new opportunity in West Africa.  Having a huge sense of adventure, he doesn't hesitate to explore some more.


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