Translate this Page

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.


  1. Interesting post about the jail. The first time we went to the jail we used the spiral staircase to get to the second floor, a couple of years later they built the outside stairs and wouldn't let people use the spiral ones anymore. They were pretty shaky when we used them.
    Did the guide also mention that bad fire that happened in 1982 in the jail. I guess it was terrible, 7 died and 29 were injured when prisoners who had dug a tunnel to escape were caught in the act and they started the fire not realizing they were sealing their own fate .

    Yes, there used to be an art gallery upstairs at one time. We went to a few art shows there and also some on the main floor. This was several years ago now. They were going to make it into a museum; but I haven't heard anything about that lately. Too bad.

  2. Quite the day! Very interesting - thanks!