Returning to the subject of hurricanes and tropical storms … a subject that causes our skin to start prickling . For years we have suffered from the ravages of hurricanes, which mostly visit in the shape of tropical storms here in Guaymas. But for some unknown reason, at least for us, some of the most devastating hurricanes have been those that have hit other regions, far from Guaymas, such as 2005′s Hurricane “Wilma” in the Mexican Caribbean (which destroyed our sales store in Cozumel.)
This time we go back to 2001 when a hurricane called “Juliette” struck the coast of Baja California Sur, Sonora and Sinaloa, causing heavy rainfall and leaving behind a trail of death and destruction: perhaps Cabo San Lucas was one of the most affected sites in northwest Mexico (since the hurricane formed off the coast of Central America and also hit the coasts of Oaxaca and Michoacan). Precipitation on top of Cabo was of 449.6 mm, since the hurricane lost strength just above this small town and it remained “parked” on top for several days.
Barely a week after the celebration of traditional festivals of Independence, on September 25th to be precise, this typhoon was dangerously close to the coast of Baja California Sur. In Guaymas, Sonora, felt the effects of “Juliette” with the presence of heavy rains, but … how did our Pearl Farm become affected? In those days we had a Jewelry-Boutique that sold our “Sea of Cortez Pearls” (jewelry and unset pearls) smack in the middle of Cabo San Lucas. This was our first foray into the retail sale of pearls and jewelry in a “foreign” setting, and after having tasted success in our first location within Tec de Monterrey-Campus Guaymas.
Pearls of the Sea of Cortez – Cabo San Lucas
Our store was opened in January 2000, with the local manager of our friend, Mr. Rodolfo Brajcich, and with the presence of Dr. Alberto Bustani Adem, Rector of the Tec de Monterrey, Dr. Guillermo Soberon Chavez then Director of the Guaymas Campus, and Mr. Farell Sergio Campos, leader of our team.
Among the many visitors to our jewelry store, we had a good friend and his team of students: Dr. Carlos Rangel Davalos (co-authored the technical book of pearl oyster aquaculture). Among this group of students was Hugo Ruiz Rubio (another good friend of La Paz, BCS) … who visited with their first batch of experimental Mabe Pearls, produced for the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur (UABCS).
There were great expectations for this store site, due to the presence of cruise ships in the area, but unfortunately this commercial experiment came to an end with Hurricane “Juliette” and the responsability to close this store fell to the new manager, Miss Monica Ocon … and here we closed yet another historical chapter.
And now many will be able to understand our reluctance to open a new branch/store outside of Guaymas, Sonora … we have already done this twice and the stores have had to close for the same reason: Hurricanes …
Until next time!
Oh boy! There are indeed some tough memories associated with certain hurricanes. These memories are like scar tissue on your heart and cause a certain sadness…fortunately this grief does not arise from the loss of a loved one nor does it stem from a mere economic loss. This grief would be more easily associated with that of the loss of a “dream”: you place your hopes and efforts on an ambitious project and then… everything is just wiped from the face of the Earth!
So, on this occasion let us go back in Time to 2005, when we met the fearsome hurricane called “Wilma”. Now, if you are attentive you will notice this “Wilma” and the year 2005 can only mean a hurricane that struck the Atlantic region…but we are in the Pacific side…so, what’s wrong with this picture???
We have first to go back in time to 2004, when we had just purchased the pearl farm from the original owner: Tec de Monterrey. At this moment we believed we could have much better sales if we only had an excellent spot, with lots of customers searching for a special product, and the island of Cozumel is a Cruise ship hub, with thousands of visitors each week: just the spot we were looking for.
So, with our Cozumel business partners we proceeded to establish a small store right on the “malecón” area and made plans to establish a larger store that would be next to the ocean and begin the necessary research to establish a new pearl farm with the Caribbean’s native pearl oysters (Pinctada imbricata and Pteria colymbus). Finally, the store opened next to a couple of fine restaurants and the local dolphinarium. Our small experimental pearl farm was deployed and spat collecting experiments begun. It was May 2005. Our store’s personnel had been prepared and trained, the store was great: lots of natural light, the beautiful Caribbean Sea could be seen from our windows… the future seemed bright! But…it was really short-lived.
When hurricane “Wilma” decided to visit the island of Cozumel it did so at full force: a level 4 hurricane. So, on October 21st, the powerful winds, the rainfall and tremendous waves crashed upon the tiny island and left it in shambles. It would be very stupid of me to say WE were the only ones that suffered losses… everyone did. The town was destroyed, tourists were gone and even the beautiful coral reefs were battered. It was a very sad event. Needless to say, our brand-new store (just in operation for a mere 6 months) was TOTALLY DESTROYED…only one wall left standing. Everything in it was washed away by the fury of the ocean: furniture, pearl jewelry and pearls…
So, like I said in a previous post… we had more than one store, and we even had another store before the one that was wiped out…but this is the subject of yet another post.
We have been asked several times? Why don’t you open a store in Cancún/Cozumel/Playa del Carmen??? The answer is “We did, but we are not going to try again…at least in this Life”.
This week I would like to share some of our experiences with hurricanes. I know that most people that live on the coastlines of the Atlantic and Pacific rim have experienced the destructive force of a hurricane or typhoon. Who can forget 2005′s “Katrina” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina) or “Wilma” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Wilma)??? Their destructive force became legendary…
But in most instances the media usually focuses on Human losses, acts of heroism or savagery, economic distress, etc. On this occasion we will only talk about the effect of hurricanes on pearls, and by this I mean the pearl oysters, pearl farms and farmers and even “Pearl Shops” (or stores). Since our experience with pearl farming dates only as far as 1991, we have been able to experience several hurricanes over the years, each one uniquely different in its effects. We also have records of similar events taking place at other places and times. Let us begin with one such account:
Pearly Joy in Guaymas
According to the late Don Manuel “el Tío” Ferreira of Guaymas, Sonora, hurricanes and tropical storms in the area caused some “pearly joy” in the 1960-1970′s because the severe tidal action would dislodge great numbers of pearl oysters from their attachment points (rocks, shells, corals, even from other oysters) and have them lay on the beach. Thus people would walk the beach of Miramar to easily obtain natural pearls. In his years of gathering natural pearls in this manner, Mr. Ferreira said he was able to fill up a large glass jar with natural pearls. Of these, only two -he said- were larger than a bean and very beautiful. Unfortunately I was never able to see more than a cup of pearls because he had given many away over the years.
I was able of experiencing this phenomena just a couple of years ago (2007) just after the arrival of hurricane “Henriette” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Pacific_hurricane_season#Hurricane_Henriette). I walked the shores of the place once known as “Shangri-La” (now there is a “Beach Club” there, owned by Hotel “Marinaterra”) and found hundreds of clams, mussels and pearl oysters -most still alive- just lying on this small beach.
One can only imagine that -for Centuries- the native inhabitants of the Sea of Cortez (and probably in other areas of the world) could have enjoyed similar benefits after such storms. There is such a thing as a Free Pearl and Lunch (if you eat the pearl oyster)