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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pearl Farm, Old Jail and Beach Restaurant - Busy Day

Had a great day yesterday. As usual the weather was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. So right after Victor got here to wash/wax Alfie we took off – again dragging our poor neighbors along. Washing Alfie from top to bottom.
I had checked online to make sure the Pearl Farm in Guaymas was still open and still giving tours so we headed for there. Nice drive along the water into Guaymas. Couldn’t remember exactly where the Pearl Farm was. I knew off the road to the Cortez Hotel RV park we had to turn left – I thought. So just before the hotel we turned left – hummmm didn’t look at all familiar. So Bill stopped and asked a lady out for her morning jog. She didn’t know where the farm was but she knew we weren’t on the right road. Okay – so back to main road and closer to hotel – about 50 feet in front of the hotel was a sign “Pearl Farm”. I did get it right about it being a left turn though.
The area where it is used to be a University now it is a technical high school but when we got there we recognized the buildings. Again we couldn’t remember in which building the beginning of the tour started. A gentleman in uniform asked, “Pearl?” We nodded yes and he pointed us straight ahead. So we walked and walked and walked down the cobblestone road – past lots of beautiful scenery.
Knew we’d gone too far turned around and noticed the same gentleman waving at us and motioning to a building back the way we’d come. When we reached him he pointed to the “Pearl Farm Tour” sign – how’d we miss that?
So up a zillion steps into the office show room. [I really need to exercise more.] The next tour would be in 15 minutes - cost about US$3 each - so we looked around at all the pretty jewelry for sale – of course. I was more interested in the signs on the wall giving information about the growing of pearls.
So I’ll post the information and intersperse it with photos I took during the tour. We followed the guard down to the area at the water where all the work takes place.
Out in the water you can just make out the floats that hold the oyster baskets.
The guide led us to the area where three men were working with the oysters – banging barnacles off them – and settled us in. [They use what looks like a meat cleaver to bang the barnacles off.]
Soon another gentleman appeared walked over with a box for show and tell. It turns out he was one of the original and present owners of the company.  He was so passionate about what he does he made us part of the oysters and their life. Showing us two oysters that had grown together. One has barnacles growing on him/her. 
The first information sign.
He told us with a smile that the oysters reproduce and grow with no parental interactions at all. The eggs float up through the water and the fertilization happens. The tiny tiny baby oysters like to cling to coral to grow but the farm uses empty onion bags that simulate the coral to catch the babys. They feed on the plankton in the water.
In a couple of months when they are visible they are taken off the green bags and transferred to the blue mesh. This protects them from predators.
Again they are transferred after a specified length of time to this bigger net cage. The water and plankton can pass easier through this mesh.
After one and a half or two years they are implanted with the seed of the pearl. This is done by hand one by one. That’s what these men are doing.
The second information sign. Almost forgot to add it. 
Our guide is showing us the innards of an oyster. Complicated little animals. They have livers, hearts and stomachs! The little green brush like thing sticking out the side is how they attach themselves to rocks or other oysters etc.
The tiny seed is planted in that triangular area just above the green brush. It is then covered with a piece of the oyster’s mantel – the grayish area around the outside of the white area – not the shell part. Then they are put back in nets and the pearl grows. 
Showing us the animal inside the shell. I asked what they do with the animal when they take the pearl out – they sell them to the restaurants in town they are a delicacy. 
After the harvesting any pearl under 5mm is thrown back in the ocean to decompose and enrich the water. I wish I could remember everything he said – so interesting.
A little shrine made with shells.
Once back up in the main office/showroom he continued our education about other varieties of pearls and how they get their colors. The pearl itself is actually white the color comes from the light hitting it.
After getting back in Willie we headed towards downtown Guaymas looking for the Old Jail. I kind of knew where it was and Bill found it without difficulty. The Jail was built from 1892 to 1895 and used until it closed in 1996! It was built to hold 400 prisoners but at one time held up to 2000- men, women and juveniles.
Very ornate looking building.

Two other jails were built by the same company - one in Hermosillo, MX and one is Spain. 
Some information about it.
Just inside the door were these iron spiral stairs – at one time they were the only stairs to the upper floors.
This was explained to us by a very nice man who came up to us and offered to give us a tour. Again I wish I could remember all he told us – well told Bill as whole conversation was in Spanish with Bill very nicely translating.
In the “exercise yard” or courtyard of the building looking east. This was not a very big yard. Couldn’t have been more than 50’ by 30’ – Bill says “if that much.”
Same yard looking east. Every Sunday Misa [Mass] was said in this area.
Looking towards the north side where these stairs were added much later. They don’t look too safe to me. And the upstairs is not open to the public. Though the Internet said there was an art gallery up there. If the Internet says it isn’t it true? Guess not.
One of the iron doors leading into a room.
This is a dormitory room. Long and narrow with very high windows.
These were the beds – three or four high with metal ladders to climb to the upper ones. Now they are just crammed with boxes of old paper work.
Outside again in a narrow walk way – a look at the guard tower and cat walk for the guards.
Another room. This was the cafeteria – see what I mean about the old paperwork. 
All of us were thinking the same thing – over 2000 people crammed in here – can you imagine the smell. Didn’t see any sanitary facilities.
Just a look of the construction. Rock and mortar and then covered with cement with a block design pressed into it.
Imagine what stories this building could tell. The guide told us that once there was an escape of some prisoners but they were caught in a week or so and returned. And one of the returned prisoners later took part in a riot. The interesting thing was that about two months ago the guy came by the jail to visit it and talked to the guide about his time there.

Heading back into town we passed this food truck with its sink and soap and sanitizer on the back of it. Interesting. 
From there we went to the marina to visit with Phil and see his boat that he is repainting. Then back to San Carlos to a restaurant on the beach for lunch. Absolutely perfect day for it. Restaurant was La Palapa Griega. Then home to plan another adventure.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Day in Mexico with Friends

What is going on with Blogger changing the type size through out the blog?
Is anyone out shopping this morning? Doesn’t sound fun to me.
We really had a good time yesterday here in San Carlos. Bill made arrangements to have Alfie washed and waxed today so first we had to go buy the wax. The washer/waxer man likes a special kind. So we went to one of the local grocery stores –Santa Rosa - as opposed to a chain market – to buy it. We haven’t been in that market for a couple of years. What a difference. They carry a completely different supply of groceries than they used to. Lots more gringo stuff. One thing that is hard to find down here is plain old black tea in bags – they had two different brands. They had small pumpkin pies – home made. Cottage cheese – which I’d forgotten to get at WalMart the other day. And of course the wax.
While checking out we noticed a flyer for a Shrimp Festival that is going to be tomorrow. Said food, music, crafts. Sounded neat so we went looking for the Plaza where it is going to be. Had never heard of the plaza….but it was supposed to be right as one comes into the town. Drove out there. Found a brand new strip mall with no name. Could that be it? Pulled in and drove around a little – some of the signs on the soon to be opened stores had the name of the plaza SeaScape down in the corner. So Bill stopped and got out to see if he could find any one to ask. Joe and I stayed in the car – and stayed in the car – and stayed in the car. Where did Bill go? Jokingly I said to Joe, “Maybe he is renting a store.” About then Bill came back and said to Joe, “Do you have time to see something?” OMG he is renting a store – flashed through my mind. So he got back in the car and drove over to one of the stores and parked. We got out and traipsed in. Turned out to be a art school. There were several ladies in there learning to oil paint. Mostly gringos but a few Mexicans. The teacher is a lovely Mexican woman and she must be a really good teacher as some of the work the women were doing was great.
Most of them were painting landscapes or flowers but check out the first painting on the right!!!! Goodness where is her model?
We talked quite a while to this woman. She’d never painted before. She took a photograph while in Guanajuato and has transformed it into a painting. Love it.
Unexpected adventure. Never know what you'll find down here. And yes that is the plaza where the festival will be – so guess where we are going tomorrow.
While we were out running around: Bill, me and Joe. Joe’s wife Carole was baking Bill a chocolate cake to make up for the one he bought that turned out to be not chocolate. Great people. Great cake. 
Around 3:00 we headed out to Blackie’s for our Thanksgiving Dinner.
Here is our dinner – first we had Waldorf Salad then the main course. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, candied yam and cranberry sauce. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream for dessert. And the restaurants signature after dinner drink. 
It’s the first real Thanksgiving dinner we’ve had in a long time. Guess I should say I’ve had as Bill had steak and baked potato and regular salad. He’s not into turkey. Also had the company of good friends.
Then home to rest until we could get our selves moving for a walk along the Malecón. No pretty sunset though. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone.

Hope every one has a nice day whether with family, friends or by yourself. Looks like today will be nice and warm and sunny here. Yesterday it was cloudy all day but nice and warm.
Didn’t do much – well we did make a trip into Guaymas for some shopping. Checked out the big Soriana there and then ended up in WalMart again. Noticed this Tupperware display in WalMart. Interesting.
Just picked up a few things then home to read, knit and nap. You can guess who did what. Reading an interesting book “Helen of Pasadena” about a woman who is suddenly widowed the day after her husband told her he was leaving her. How she turns her life around in the close knit community of upper class Pasadena. And my scarf that I’m knitting continues to get longer – no tearing out. So that leaves the nap……
There was a kind of pretty sunset last night – not like some of them we’ve seen here. But good enough to take a couple of pictures.

After the sun set we decided to go out to dinner. Our neighbors told us about a restaurant they’d eaten at a couple of days ago. Said it was the best meal they’d had since being here. So off the four of us went. To Blackie’s – and were they ever right. The food was delicious – I had fish cooked with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, garlic and white wine with rice and steamed vegetables. Bill had salad, baked potato with all the trimmings and rib eye steak. Of course bread. I cleaned my plate – could have served on it it was so clean. And after dinner the waiter brought us all an after dinner drink. A small glass of vodka, kahlua, cream and cinnamon. Oh my gosh. Our meals were about US$16 apiece. Bill also had a beer and I had ice tea.  
This is the restaurant where we are going today for a Norte Americano traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Yum.
I think I mentioned that we’ll be staying here for another week. So I’m searching the Internet for things to do. One will be a visit to the Pearl Farm in Guaymas. Our friends haven’t been there. Was also reading about the little town/area of San Jose there is supposed to be an old church and some really old, big cactus around there.
We (us gals) want to go to the Parisiana yardage store and Woolworths in Guaymas. And what ever else I can find. The old jail looks interesting too if we can find it and the Central Market.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

La Manga

Yes we are still in San Carlos – haven’t got “On the Road Again” yet [listening to Willie Nelson sing that as I write this.] We won’t be going to Huatabampito until Friday. We’ve been enjoying our neighbors and discovered that one of the restaurants here is going to serve a traditional Norte Americano Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow so we decided to stay for it. Should be interesting. RECALCULATE! Bill just got back from the park office and we'll be staying here for another week. Till Dec 4th. 
Yesterday we talked our neighbors into taking another drive with us. This time we went to the little – emphasize little – town of La Manga just up a dirt road north of San Carlos. We’d been out there last year and it has a very interesting feature.
This is just a picture of some of the boats at anchor in San Carlos. Thought it was pretty. We were told that they are charged US$100 a month to use the tie downs there.
I’ve been trying to get a picture of this shrine for years – finally a half way decent one. It is just off the road when heading north. Looks like it’s been painted since last year.
Love this mural on this house. It looks so real. Hard to tell where the real desert ends and the mural begins.
Went up to El Encanto – a place where land is for sale – expensive land – just to look at the view. The water looked like it was covered with sparkles.
Up the road past all the developments and fancy hotels the road to La Manga turns to dirt.
The area is magnificent – the mountains so colorful and lots of different vegetation.
Several of the homes had sea shells for sale. And items made out of sea shells. Didn’t price any. Didn’t see any one to ask.
And the reason we came here. This is the only town where we’ve seen so many campers, trailers and 5th wheels being used to live in. They are sitting all along the main road through town. There are 20 or 30 of them being used.
This one has its own outhouse – in fact several of them did. The black item behind the outhouse is a fresh water container.
We stopped at the boat launch to look around. Only one panga was tied in the area. But there were ropes and floats for several more.
While looking out at the water we saw another panga come into the harbor. It continued moving at a fast rate of speed and the fisherman drove it right up on the beach to park it just down around the bend. Wasn’t quick enough to take a picture.
Check out the sign on the boat.
Very interesting little town. Lots of little restaurants on the water and of course a soccer field in front of the little church. One restaurant was getting its thatched roof redone. 
He is trimming the fronds with his machete 
Then back into San Carlos were we had lunch at Evie’s Simply Coffee café. Very good food and friendly people. Then we went to a little store that carries lots of groceries from the States. Our friend found Bisquick that she has been looking for. And looking around we discovered Bush Beans! Thomas English Muffins and Valasic pickles to just mention a few things. The owners make a run to the states every two weeks and bring back things people have asked for.
Last night we visited and watched a movie. The Chuck Norris one where jumps through a moving car’s windshield – love that move.

Today we’ll probably make a run into Guaymas again.