Who we are
When we began this adventure back in 1999, we really had no idea what to expect and what we were getting ourselves into.
We literally air-dropped ourselves onto a deserted motu or strip of land with the open ocean on one side and the lagoon on the other. This motu is situated on the southwestern tip of the Atoll of Takaroa, 15 miles from the nearest village of 300 souls.
The first few weeks we slept under tarps between coconut trees and brush. Our first order of business was to intervene in the lagoon with our collector stations to begin collecting Pinctada Margaritifera Spats. On land, finding water to drink was a priority. Between prospecting for coconuts for our thirst we began building our infrastructure. Needless to say we bathed in the ocean for the first six months.
We learned the hard way what it’s like not to have water. Even with the hardships of the land, we knew to live off the sea early on. Spearfishing was in essence part of the daily chores.
Fast-forward 20 plus years into the future, after going through 3 Hurricanes, drought, lagoon overheating, theft, shark-proliferation we are now well-experienced pearl farmers alas. We now have twin solar arrays, diesel generators, 14 structures including warehouses, employee-bungalows, homes, central kitchen, toilets, water-cisterns with a capacity of thirty two thousand liters to store rainwater and most importantly, 100 Hectares (247 Acres) of lagoon to properly raise our oysters.
Even with these creature comforts, we are still almost solely dependent on the Nature surrounding us, and we like it that way!
Takaroa is an Atoll in the middle of the Pacific ocean, quite removed from everything. It is a one hour and a half flight from the capital island of Papeete Tahiti, and with only one flight per week. We have two ships, the Mareva Nui and the St. Xavier Maristella that regularly service the atoll with fuel, gaz, foods and other essentials. The population is mainly Paumotu, a related branch to the Polynesian family but with their own beliefs, culture and language.
The village has 4 different types of churches, with a couple of general stores where you can buy products for three times the cost of the main Island of Tahiti.
At present, there is about 300 inhabitants. At its apex, there where over a thousand people, back in the 2000’s, when oysters where plentiful.
At present, the population abandoned oyster and pearl production, and live off the sea and coprah.
I was born in Mexico City, a while back, and got a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin.
Nothing really precluded me into a life by the sea. I moved to San Diego and opened a Black Pearl Shop in La Jolla with my brother who sent the pearls from Tahiti.
My link to Tahiti and her Islands is trough my ancestors on my mother’s side. Even though I grew up in Mexico city and later Texas, I travelled frequently to Tahiti to meet with my 22 cousins and 9 uncles and aunts. I realized after delving into the mater, that our roots in Polynesia run deep. On my grandmother’s side we go back many generations with Paumotu and Tahitian decent. As for my great-grandfather, he arrived in Tahiti back in the 1800’s from China and quickly developed a thriving business running schooners about, within the 122 Islands of Polynesia. He also delved in Vanilla, Coffee, Natural Pearls and Banking. As fate would have it, he originally purchased the land I would ultimately land on in Takaroa.
I have three boys, one wonderful wife and awesome local staff.
My Pearl expertise began on the retail-side back in La Jolla CA. After I moved to Tahiti, I began pretty much as a dealer, buying and reselling pearls to buyers from Japan and abroad. 21 years on a pearl-farm, was the Masters-Degree if you will, since I learned to actually make pearls. In that period though, my love for pearls shifted to a love for Oysters, because without them, you ain’t got nothing.
My Doctorate degree was to be had in my travels to China, where I opened a pearl-selling office between 2008-2011. At the same time I was showing my harvests at all the Hong Kong International Jewellery fairs and have been a fixture there ever since.