Madagascar Trip March 2016
We have just received the fruits from the trip I took to Madagascar in early March 2016 to fill a 20 foot container
full of fossils and crystals. I arrived just after the rainy season and the days were baking hot with cool evenings often interrupted by violent thunder storms which set the skies alight with the dancing lightning and the deep and ominous bellows of thunder reverberating around the capital of Madagascar Antananarivo which is generally affectionately called Tana. It is always a trip of mixed emotions filled with the general feel of hustle and bustle that Africa brings you, People fighting adversity with an infectious smile which just warms you to the Malagasy people. Arriving late in the evening at the airport in Antananarivo is always a great test of your patience as you wait in a long queue which never seems to get any smaller but just increases as the queue jumpers appear from nowhere after flashing a few euros to the right person. Eventually I am met the other end amidst a sea of faces by my long time supplier and friend who takes me on my last leg of the long journey to his house where I go straight to bed. The next morning I am woken by the sound of a cockerel and the smell of open wood fires I then know I am back in Madagascar where I have been traveling to for the past 18 years. After breakfast it is down to business but not after presenting a new football which is a gift to my supplier’s work force that look very happy with it. The first thing that catches my eye is a large lot of white candle quartz which dazzles in the sun, with pieces varying from fist size up to groups weighing about 90 kilograms. It is not so easy to get the white candle quartz nowadays and this batch has an extremely good lustre. Well that lot was just over a ton in weight so an expensive start to my first morning in Madagascar. I have to work pretty fast while I am there as I cannot spend too much time away from the wholesale business Hidden Earth Ltd. The rest of the week is spent meeting my supplier’s contacts and looking through and selecting from batches of stock. Agate bowls were already polished and sat waiting by my wooden crates and were looking absolutely stunning and it is good to have a few of these gorgeous tactile objects now available on the website for the first time as they are one of my personnel favourites. Then it was onto the large batch of fossil wood logs that had been prepared for me over the previous months. They ranged in weight from 10 kilograms up to an impressive 170 kilograms, the tops had been polished to show the beautiful colours of the jasper that had replaced this 248 million year old Triassic wood. Then onto the bread and butter of our website and picking out the most popular stones like the lovely rich and fiery carnelian in hand polished pebbles, freeform shapes, spheres, eggs and the popular hearts, which are one of our best selling forms of carnelian that we sell on our website and from our showroom. Also rose quartz in spheres, pebbles, hearts, eggs, flame shapes, freeform shapes and beautiful pink bowls. Madagascan rose quartz is considered to be some of the best in the world with some pieces displaying a six sided star which is caused by very small rutile inclusions within the quartz. Polychrome jasper was displaying some good colours this trip and I also managed to get a small amount of the natural citrine which is becoming ever rarer to find. Like the citrine included quartz is very difficult to obtain but we also managed to buy a nice little batch of quartz freeform shapes and polished points with rutile, tourmaline and epidote inclusions. The star for me though was to obtain a very nice batch of quartz enhydros which is quartz with water trapped inside which occurred millions of years ago. You can have lots of fun with these as you hold them up to the light and tilt them around to watch the water bubbles move from side to side trapped in its small cavity and encased by the beautiful polished quartz. Fossils also play a big part in the trip and besides the fossil wood ammonites are an important part of our business. All forms of ammonites are sold by us at Madagascan direct including natural ammonites, polished ammonites, iridescent ammonites and also ammonite pairs which are ammonites that have been cut in half and polished with different grades of diamond abrasive to reveal their beautiful shining calcite interiors. We even use all of the above mentioned ammonites to make stunning and individual fossil jewellery which includes pendants, rings and gorgeous ammonite bracelets. I was particularly pleased with the perisphinctes ammonites that we bought and a large batch arrived for me to pick from delivered by a lady living in the southern part of Madagascar near Tulear which is where the Jurassic ammonites on the island are located. She also had with her some amazing rostellum bi-valves which was something I had not seen for a long time. Other new finds on the trip were Indigo gabbro also known as merlinite which we had made into hearts and spheres. Green opal is available again in freeform shapes and pebbles and is always a welcome addition to our Madagascan stock list. Also an excellent batch of blue apatite which is the best quality that I have seen. We have this material in pebbles and spheres and we are sure that it will be an excellent seller. Quartz points once again lived up to expectations and we purchased a good amount of clear and smoky quartz points in beautiful Madagascan quartz which has been sympathetically polished from natural crystals but retaining the original shape of the crystal. Crystal bowls seem to be ever popular and a large batch was obtained with some bowls weighing up to an impressive 30 kilograms. The day before travelling home was a trip to hunt down some nice labradorite objects and we set off early on the Saturday morning in the four wheel drive to see what was on offer. After a very long journey which involved the ever increasingly difficult task of manoeuvring our way through Tana we eventually arrived at our first stop. A collective of 3 families who work exclusively with labradorite to produce pebbles, spheres, freeform shapes and even high grade cabochons for jewellery production. I viewed the labradorite as it was all laid out on tables and the blue and green colours dance in the Malagasy sunshine. The day was extremely hot and I could feel my skin burning. I bought the whole batch of about 500 kilograms as I needed good supplies of labradorite to top up the warehouse and the website. Next few stops we visited other groups working with labradorite but the quality was not good enough for me and I declined their offers. The next stop in the area proved very successful as I was allowed to hand pick labradorite freeform shapes from a collective of 3 different artisans. I gained about 200 kilograms from that stop and it filled my labradorite requirements for this trip quite nicely. The last stop of the day was to visit a yard containing rough fossil wood logs. My jaw dropped as I saw the size of some of the pieces and also the quality of the bark on these Triassic wonders. We scoured through the natural sculptures to pick out only the finest pieces for us to sell in our showroom back in the UK. Well that was officially the end of the trip and all that was left was to embark on the long journey home and wait for the goodies to arrive back home.