I hope you have had a lovely August. I want to return in this Missive to my crystal adventures. I absolutely love traveling the globe and learning about the crystal world, and I want to share this joy, adventure and learning experience with you.
Before starting, however, I want to let you know that our Blowout Crystal Sale will be ending on Labor Day Monday, September 2. The sale has been great, and many of you have been able to acquire our amazing crystals at incredible discounts. If there is still a crystal you are longing for, come by and take advantage of our sale before it ends. It's a rare opportunity you don't want to miss.
But back to my travels! My recent trip to Madagascar, which was a decade in the making, has its roots in Tucson, Arizona. Within 18 months of opening Mystic Journey Bookstore, I started making my annual excursion to Tucson which hosts the largest crystal show in the world. The Tucson show is an amazing, one-of-a-kind experience. If you’ve ever been to a trade show, imagine 40 of them, city-wide, going on simultaneously! And all centered around crystals, minerals and gemstones!
The Tucson show is an amazing, one-of-a-kind experience. If you’ve ever been to a trade show, imagine 40 of them, city-wide, going on simultaneously!
Some “shows” are in hotels, with the front, back and courtyard filled with vendors’ tents. Other hotels not only have all these tents, but they also have other smaller vendors in virtually each room of these two-story hotels. And there’s a dozen-plus hotels like this around the city. There’s a show in the Convention Center, another one in a huge outdoor park, and others in giant, permanent tent-like structures. Still other small shows are just a few canopies put up on a corner, while others are in permanent buildings scattered throughout the city that house one or more vendors year-round. It’s really an unbelievable experience.
People often ask me about going, and how to prepare for, and “do Tucson”. My answer is always: Spend at least 2-3 days there, and come with a budget that’s reasonable for you and what you are about to see and experience. If you come with a budget that’s too low, you’ll be disappointed. Come with no budget, or an unlimited budget, and you’ll have to put off going on that vacation, or buying that house or that car you wanted. Trust me. Spending there can get out of hand super quick. I also advise to walk around, compare prices, and talk to the vendors before buying. Don’t buy the first thing you see. There’s so much there. You have to pace yourself in buying. Otherwise, again, it can get out of control, or you’ll spend all you have, then see something you really want, but end up being disappointed because you can’t get it.
Come with no budget, or an unlimited budget, and you’ll have to put off going on that vacation, or buying that house or that car you wanted.
And that’s how I started. I started by going to Tucson and buying a little bit for the bookstore. Most importantly, I began talking to the vendors. My first time there, I just drove a small car. I filled it up, became a bit of low-rider, and then drove home two days later. Now I go with two other people, a cargo van, and spend about week there picking and choosing the best crystals I possibly can to offer to you and the world. Without a doubt, it’s a labor of love.
On my first trip there, I met a wonderful woman from Madagascar named Ita. The people from Madagascar are called Malagasy. Ita, had a medium-sized booth in one of the major shows. Being from Madagascar, her crystals and stones, what the dealers call “material,” varied widely. Madagascar is blessed to have huge array of material. Blue celestite comes almost exclusively from Madagascar. Rose quartz is also found in Madagascar in great quantities. Most labradorite originates from Madagascar and the same is true for carnelian. Precious and semi-precious gemstones such as emerald, sapphire, and ruby are also found in Madagascar.
Ita and I struck it off almost immediately. But Ita didn’t speak English all that well. The native language of Madagascar is Malagasy, although most people there also speak French as France ruled Madagascar for about 80 years, from 1880 until 1960. Nevertheless, we made it work, and I bought a bunch of different types of small pieces from Ita on that first trip.
Each year thereafter, until 2017, I would make Ita one of my first stops in Tucson. It was always such a joy to see her. Each year her English would be a bit better, and year each we would spend more and more time talking about the past year and all the stuff that had gone on in our lives over that year. And of course, each year I bought a little more from Ita. Most importantly though, each year we developed more and more of a friendship. After a number of years, Ita started to kid me about coming to visit her in Madagascar. In her French accent, “Come on, it isn’t so far. We’ll have a great time. We’ll go to the mines and travel the country, and I’ll show you the places I love.”
...Ita started to kid me about coming to visit her in Madagascar. In her French accent, “Come on, it isn’t so far..."
At first, I was like, “Sure Ita, some day.” But as the years passed, I was starting to say, “Are you sure, do you really think it would be ok for me to come visit you? Will it be ok with you? Maybe, just maybe, next year.” Then, in 2017, I said to Ita, “Ok, I think I’m gonna do it, I’m going take you up on your offer and come visit you.” She responded, “That’s great! I can’t believe you’re really going to come. But there’s one thing you need to know.” I said, “What?” and Ita responded, “Next year, I’m not going to have this booth, I’m not going to be coming to Tucson.” I said, “You’ve got to be kidding”. I was thinking, I’m finally ready to make this trip half way around the world, and now I’m losing my relationship with Ita?! Ita said, “No, I’m not kidding. But my sister will still be here and you can talk with her and set things up when you are in Tucson next year.” I was disappointed for sure, and a bit shocked. I didn’t even recall Ita saying she had a sister (although my memory can be a bit sketchy!), no less that her company had a second location in Tucson. I was like, “Ok, you have a second location? Where is it? Let me go meet your sister.” So Ita directed me to their second spot, and off I went to meet her sister, Elka.
When I arrived, I came to a huge tent in the show that was in the “big park” show. Elka had what was one of, if not the largest locations at the largest show in Tucson! I was shopping with Ita for nearly 10 years at her relatively small booth, and had never even been in her sister’s gigantic location. Crazy!
I was shopping with Ita for nearly 10 years at her relatively small booth, and had never even been in her sister’s gigantic location. Crazy!
But I went in and met Elka, and just like I had years ago with Ita, I hit it off with Elka straight away. Her English was much better than Ita’s and it made our getting to know each other that much quicker. I bought some things from Elka, and said to her I had been talking with Ita for years about coming to Madagascar, and was no seriously thinking about coming in 2018. I asked Elka if, like Ita, she would be open to me coming and going to the mines, seeing the country and spending some time with them. Elka’s response couldn’t have been more warm and inviting. I said, “Ok, we’ll talk more next year when I see you again here in Tucson, but let’s start planning on it.” With a smile and hug, she said, “OK”.
As usual, I went to Tucson in early 2018. As she had said, Ita was not there, her booth space taken over by another vendor. ☹ But I went out to see Elka early on in this trip. I bought all that I had been buying from Ita from Elka, and more. We talked about me coming to Madagascar later in the year, and Elka remained not only open to it, she encouraged it, saying I would stay with her and Ita, (they live next door to each other), and they would be thrilled to show me their country, including taking me to one of the blue celestite mines. I said, “We’re on! I’ll contact you in late spring or early summer and we’ll set it up.” I did just that, and in early October of 2018, I was winging my way half-way around the world to Madagascar, specifically to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, known to the Malagasy’s as Tana.
I said, “We’re on! ... and in early October of 2018, I was winging my way half-way around the world to Madagascar...
I’ll be writing about my time and adventures in Madagascar next month. But in closing this Missive, I want to add the following thought. Everything in life is based on relationships: Your family, your friends, your partner, your business. My crystal life, the crystal part of my business, is inexorably intertwined with all the close relationships I have developed over the years with all my crystals dealers, and now friends. Without these relationships, all my crystal trips, and really so much of my business would either not be happening, or be totally different. As I’ve expressed before, it is these relationships, and the relationships that I have with my customers and staff, that give me the true joy in what I do. So far from the adversarialness that characterized many of my relationships in law, my business relationships are now fulfilling, rewarding, and life expanding. Personal relationships, that’s what really matters.
Until next time, many blessings to you all.