Local July 29, 2022 | 2:09 pm

Amber ‘disappears’ in the mountains of Santiago

One of the best views of Santiago where you can enjoy the greenery of its mountains. Ludovida Colomé keeps the memory of her when she extracted amber. Onelio Dominguez/LD

Santiago, D.R.
The extraction of amber in the mine of La Búcara in the Cordillera Septentrional in the province of Santiago was the main livelihood of the inhabitants decades ago; however, with the passing of the years, this has been disappearing.

The inhabitants assure that even on the road, they found this precious stone, which before the arrival of Covid-19 was very common to receive the visit of Chinese and Americans to buy at a lower price and use the material to sell as jewelry.

“People didn’t even sleep, just looking for that, it was in ‘sacks’ that was extracted. Extracting amber was like extracting sweet potatoes,” said community member Bruna Hernández amid laughter.

Ludovina Colomé, another of the people consulted, recalled the time in 1958 when she was only 21 years old when she and her husband extracted this stone from the large mines, which sold for only RD$70 per pound.

According to one of Ludovina’s sons, a pound of amber has a market price of up to RD$2 million. And, unlike red and yellow amber, blue amber can be even more expensive.

“Now, when that amber had insect or plant fossils in it, that’s when it was more expensive,” explained the 85-year-old woman.

However, over the years, this extraction has been declining, which residents attribute to the fact that the owners of these lands “do not accept” mining and, mainly, because of declaration No. 217-17 that created the Botanical Garden of Santiago Professor Eugenio de Jesús Marcano Fondeur, a protected area of the Dominican Republic, which is located near La Búcara.

Given the closure of mining activities, the community members dedicated to this trade have now had to choose to cultivate coffee, cocoa, bananas, and other products, while the fossil remains are from this place.

The fossilized remains of a rare flower and a parasitic wasp more than 30 million years old, discovered and studied by the American paleontologist George Poinar Jr, from the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University, in the United States, come from this place.

Through an article in the specialized magazine Historial Biology, the professor informed that the rare flower found in the country is a plant that belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family of the Plukenetia mínima genus, which has more than 300 genera. Currently, most of them are found in Africa, Madagascar, and Asia.

George Poinar Jr described the fossil as containing a complete, well-preserved senescent pistillate flower with mature fruits and a parasitic wasp with dark brown and black body, light brown antennae, eyes, and legs.

“The north coast of the Dominican Republic is known for producing the world’s oldest and clearest amber. This precious stone consecrated its worldwide fame thanks to Steven Spielberg’s movie, ‘Jurassic Park’,” reports the tourism portal RD.

Blue Amber.
The portal promotes the rarity of blue amber, which is only found in the country, and invites you to buy “raw stones at a fraction of the market price.”

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