National Geographic : 1961 Sep
one of the many National Geographic Society members I met in Angola, brought out two trays of diamonds from a safe. He poured a glittering cascade of rough stones onto a vel vet-covered table. "Here are 6,272 carats," he said, "the equiv alent of ten days' production at this mine. These are mostly gem stones; 80 percent of them will end up in the United States." "How much are they worth?" I asked. "To us about $200,000; more, of course, on the world market. We produce $20,000,000 worth of diamonds a year-next to coffee they're Angola's biggest export item." From the hospitality of the diamond com pany, I drove two days through heavy rains to Luso, a thriving frontier town we had touched earlier on our trip to Cameia. This time I wanted to catch the Benguela Railway, linking the mining regions of Katanga and Northern Rhodesia with the sea. The train would take me westward across the midsec tion of Angola to Lobito, on the Atlantic coast. Beauties on a balcony in midtown Luanda watch a sports car race. Below the apartment, drivers hurtle along the Avenida de Paulo Dias de Novais, named for the city's founder. Eye-catching mosaics decorate the sidewalk of a cafe outside the Hotel M'ombaka in Ben guela. Old Portuguese caravels and ships' wheels form a maritime motif.