In the southern province of Mindanao, there is a city called Pagidean. In the past it was sometimes difficult to get there so one had to travel by bus.
Bus travel in the province is quite an experience. The first time I did this, there was a large crowd waiting at the bus stop. After a short while an ancient six wheeled monster billowing black smoke virtually broad sided to a halt in front of us. I paused and waited for the ladies to get on first. Whoosh! The whole crowd surged forward. The bus was full! I was left standing on the road alone. “Full” means the bus is jammed packed with people holding onto the side rails at the entrance door.
When the next bus eventually came, I glanced at the waiting ladies, some with babies and “whoosh” the crowd attacked the bus and again I was left standing on the side of the road. I may be a slow learner, but when the third bus came, I was the fastest person in that waiting crowd. With determination I claimed a space in that jam-packed bus where i sat clutching a pole for many hours. The air was stinking hot, vomit was running along the floor, and escaped chicken was running between my legs and under the seats. The wood windows were down, the road dust was permeating everything and I emerged a different colour some hours later at Pagidean City.
The next day it was arranged for me to travel about 40 kilometres out to a place called Lakewood. A geologist friend of mine from Cebu had organised my trip to look for Crystals. Jovito was an old man, 82 years old in fact, but a lot of exploration in the Philippines made him the most knowledgeable mining engineer in the country. Aware that much of the land was under the New Peoples Army (NPA) control he insisted on coming along to keep watch over me.
I was warned to stay only one day and then get out before the NPA had time to arrive. We borrowed an antique Land Rover to make the 40 kilometre journey to where we hoped to find crystals. All four tyres were exposing the rubber inner tube through the bald areas on the tread. There was no surprise when after a few kilometres of incredibly rough, rocky and pot holed road, we had our first blow out.
After several hours and several blowouts, we turned onto a rough track and I realised we were a long way from help should we run out of repair materials for the tyres! Amazingly we arrived on the outskirts of Lakewood and of course there was a lake and a few primitive house. These people were ethnic tribes not belonging to the usual Malay grouping of Filipinos. These badly neglected people are trapped in a circle of poverty and inefficient farming practices.
Remembering that I had to be out of this place before night fall to avoid the NPA, we quickly started off along a jungle trail bordering the lake. Turning left we headed up a small gully walking most of the time in the creek. Frequent squalls would come and go but it did not matter, with humidity in excess of 100% I was saturated by rain anyway.
As we climbed up that gully I noticed some tiny crystals in the creek. An examination showed them to be quite unusual. They had clear points with purplish colouring developing a third of the way from the point until the broken end of the crystal. I also observed strange growths coming out of each side of the crystal.
The crystals in the creek bed must have been washed from a vein. Encouraged, we pressed on up the creek walking through water, climbing over rocks, enduring rain squalls and sweating – I never have sweated so much in my life! I think I created my own rain squall… Eventually the gully widened out into a wide shallow valley and we proceeded to scrape around looking for Quartz veins.
The discovery of a lifetime…
Just under the surface I unearthed perhaps one of the greatest treasure of nature. It since has proven to be one of the rarest crystals in the world.
The crystal was about 8” long and slim, so it was a laser crystal. The first inch from the tip was clear and the rest started to lose its clarity. It turned a transparent purple colour developing into a solid purple, almost Amethyst in colouring of the last half of its length. Streaks of green chlorite could be seen emerging from the Amethyst colouring.
We found six of these crystals, all with the mini growth up every face. We found numerous small ones 1/2” and smaller, also with mini growths. Every crystal found in that valley had a mini growth up each face of the crystal. As we stopped outside of the small valley the crystals ceased to have a mini side growth.
What an incredible crystal! Somehow in that little valley, nature had programmed each one with a rule that caused the growth of a line of mini crystals along each facet. Outside of that valley, the rule did not apply.
I eventually had three tunnels mined into the side of the hill to intersect the vein. After two months of mining, we never found the vein. There were occasional small crystals floating in the soil, but no vein could be found.
After three months of fruitless searching, we had to give up and never found any more of the larger crystals other than the six initially located.
Examination has found that these unique crystals are possible from a very early age in the earths development. Could it be that they came from the time of Lemuria? I named the discovery and have the precious find still in my possession today.
Our best guess is, the vein of the crystal has been folded down, forever buried leaving only those six ambassadors to see the light of day.
I have never held such powerful crystals as this laser crystal. On two occasions, while doing a palm test with a tiny one inch crystal, I heard a “crack” and an electric bolt of energy hit my palm causing my hand to jerk away.
I have seen people sit for hours holding a this kind of crystal. Others have begged me to part with some of those larger lasers, but how can a father part with his six children? Other than those six large lasers, no other crystal has been found, in the Philippines or any other part of the world.
I Go To Rio …..
Rio de Janeiro has a notorious reputation for a lack of law and order, with more people being killed there over the last 10 years than the number killed in the Vietnam War!
Almost everyone I know living in Rio de Janeiro has experienced a robbery, been attacked or held up. Residents live behind iron bars and even then, no one is really safe.
Relaxing on a beach in Rio is not always a pleasant experience. Robberies and snatches are a constant worry. I have a friend who as a tourist, walked well dressed on the beach with a video and slide camera, only to have his face pushed in the sand and his equipment taken. The safest thing sun-lovers can do is perhaps go the the beach wearing just a smile! What then can be snatched? Well . . . just be careful if you do it okay?!
Another friend was approached by an attractive and bubbly girl, after a quick how y’ going, he discovered his wallet had disappeared almost as quick as her wandering hands! This daily cocktail of street-hustle, infamous motorised hunting of street urchins and violence, makes a regular tourist walk feel like a dash through some kind of war zone.
During all my years of travel in Brazil, nothing had actually happened to me although everyone I knew had an ” I was robbed” story. It almost seemed unfair! One balmy night in my Cococabana hotel, I decided in a testosterone induced fit of bravado to go out in search of excitement or trouble (I didn’t care which). Taking off all my real valuables, I put on my jeans, rolled up the shirt sleeves, placed a small roll of money in my pocket, did 70 or so push-ups and ventured out into the streets of Cococabana.
I walked around by myself for an hour or so, and nothing happened. While negotiating to go into a bar for a drink a voice behind me said, “Make it five and I will go in too.” I turned around and saw a gentleman of Indian extraction (that is, from India). I said ” You speak English? ” He nodded and explained that he was a sales manager from the United States having a night out but he was nervous and did not know if he should be walking around by himself. “There’s safety in numbers”, I said and suggested we team up for a night on the town.
About 15 minutes before midnight we were both walking down a wide road when out of the corner of my eye I saw shadows move in our direction. Two evil looking characters stepped into the street light. I turned to my new found Indian friend and yelled, “Run!” (Yeah I know . . . real brave like!). After a quick dash I looked back to see that the two Brazilians had their vic
tim down on the ground in a violent struggle. Maybe it was because he was better dressed than I and not as imposing physically they had targeted him. Before I could do anything he broke free and tore off into the night.
That was the last I ever saw of my foreign, nocturnal co-adventurer.
Well. . . even after several more trips, still nothing has happened to me. “Is Brazil really safe?” you may ask Well, a semi-automatic rifle packed with your toothbrush could be just as useful I reckon!
Amethyst Mining in Brazil
Brazil is a huge country with most of the Agate and Amethyst mines based in the south while the beautiful crystals are gathered in the Minas Gerias and surrounding provinces.
While the production of Agate and Amethyst is fairly well organized, the mining of crystals in Minas Gerias is governed by the law of the jungle…
Very few official mining rights are held in Minas Gerias. Possession of a site more or less determines ownership. If a miner is digging a tunnel in one direction and someone else makes a big find, then there is every likelihood that he will simply start heading in the direction of the find! Gun fights are common in the lawless dog-eat-dog place, but somehow it seems to work.
Most Amethyst geodes were entombed in hard, solid basalt by massive forces deep in the Earth. Through unimaginable lengths of time they sit, while the world turns and changes, man and all life develops, waiting to reveal their beauty in the light of day.
An enormous amount of work is required to expose the treasures hidden within. This is the case with Amethyst from an area roughly five hundred kilometers from the Brazilian coastal town of Porto Alegre.
The hills along the valley are mainly basalt, evidence of massive volcanic activity that was active eons ago. The slopes are now riddled with tunnels, laboriously hand-rendered by miners in search of their fortune.
Come! Let us venture into the dusty and dark heart of stone…
You feel your eyes strain in the light, now failing quickly as we stray further from the roughly hewn entrance. We have to stoop so not to hit our heads on the low roof, the floor is uneven with jagged basalt edges. The dust in the air is so heavy as to be a drag in the lungs.
We come to a fork in the tunnels, to the right a man operates a pneumatic drill without ear or lung protection. Pausing to talk, seemingly unconcerned about the risks he is taking with his health, he explains that his father also was a miner and live to 85 years of age!
Once the holes are drilled, he plugs them with explosive and blasts the cave wall. Now the hard work begins! The newly exposed face is examined for traces of gemstone. This time he is lucky, a small hole reveals and Amethyst cave. Sometimes he can blast for days without result. A wire is poked into the hole to ascertain the size of the gem cave. Then armed with only a hammer and chisel, the miner chips away the basalt that has entombed the Amethyst for thousands of years. The larger clusters can take days to release. The value to the miner will not be known until it is inspected for quality, and that grading process will only follow much work in conditions most workers in ‘civilised’ countries can not imagine.
He stops working momentarily and hands you a small piece of Amethyst, “pour tu” he says smiling… you accept it gladly and will handle your Amethyst with care all your life, because you now know it is sure the product of “sweat of the brow”.
No matter what price you pay for Amethyst stones and jewellery, it is far less than it will ever be worth, because it is born of real labour.
by: KEN MEYERS
Picture of Ken Meyers in Mining site in Brazil