Early in the morning, we leave Ambatofinandrahana for the long drive to Itremo Massive, the quartz capital of Madagascar. This area is famous for numerous quartz veins producing an enormous number of quartz specimens each year including rock crystal quartz, pineapple quartz, quartz with rare fuchsite or hollandite etc. The countryside is beautiful!
National road #35 was so bad it took us over four hours to go 35km (21.7 miles). Some of us took the opportunity to get out and walk for a little exercise. Sometimes it was quicker to walk than ride! I met my driver at the top of the hill. Many national roads in Madagascar are difficult to navigate and require the use of a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
There’s a bit of a problem when we come upon the only bridge across a river and it’s missing some boards, making it impassable for our 18 4-wheel drive vehicles. Drivers and security guards scramble to find wood for a makeshift repair.
As we await the slow and careful passage of all 18 4-wheel drive vehicles over the semi-repaired bridge, we get our first lesson in Malagasy: Mora mora = slowly, slowly!
In my next post, we will stop along the way to Itremo in a town called Ihasofotsy!
Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com