After eight months of married life, a business opportunity arose that would send us on the first of our gemstone travels. Our primary destination was to be the mineral-rich nation of Kenya, in East Africa.
Anticipation levels in the household of the young Ramseys were at an all-time high. We buried ourselves in travel books, At-lases and brochures. We took great pride in knowing as much as any experienced traveler. We were to learn, of course, that there is a great difference between reading about a country and actually “being there”. The realization would not come easily, but it did come quickly.
We were setting our sights on tanzanite, tsavorite, scapolite and other gems native to the area. John had clients for the stones, both rough and cut. Some were dealers, others collectors, so we would be looking for anything and everything at a good price.
We boarded the plane in Los Angeles with high hopes and expectations. The trip would be long, with a number of stops, taking us from Los Angeles to Copenhagen, then on to Athens and finally to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. We were not at all happy about the stops, but it would take more than some slight inconveniences to dim our youthful enthusiasm. Then fate decided to make its own decisions about our journey.
“As we boarded an already delayed flight from Copenhagen to Athens, I noticed a second officer who seemed awfully worried,” Laura said. “I chalked it up to my imagination. John and I took our seats toward the back of the DC-10 and settled in for the ride. The plane was packed. Then I saw a group of crew members having a serious discussion about something. I didn’t know what they were talking about, but as a former flight attendant, my antennae were up.
“I whispered to John that something might be wrong. We held hands as the plane taxied and then took off. When we reached an altitude of about 30,000 feet, there was a loud bang and the oxygen masks dropped suddenly. The passengers sat there, terrified, not knowing what to do. There had not been an oxygen mask demonstration! I helped John put his mask on and some of the other passengers did the same. But not everyone! I knew that hypoxia, a potentially fatal condition caused by lack of oxygen, can happen in three minutes when the cabin loses pressure. The symptoms are lightheadedness and a feeling of intoxication quickly followed by loss of consciousness and death”.