There’s something about the black pearl farms in the Tuamotus that has me enthralled. It may be the poignant salty sea stench you can smell from miles away, the hustle and bustle inside as workers rush oysters from process to the next, or just the romantic (to me at least) idea of living and working in this very remote, camp-like environment with one group of people- your coworkers, your boss, your friends and your enemies- all in one spot for years at a time. Whatever it is… I am hooked and am looking forward to telling the Pearl Farm story through images this year.
Raroia has 3 1/2 pearl farms inside the small atoll. One pearl farm is located on the East side of Raroia and is ran by our new friend Gigi. Not only has Gigi been very generous in cooking us a brilliant meal of friend chicken and french fries on Sunday afternoon, she also has done all of our laundry and lets me hang out and take as many photos as I want. The people in that farm live there full time and only a couple of them get to venture into the village once a week when the plane arrives. After hanging out with them for awhile, we realized that the majority of the people who work here have been in jail before… and it seems as those its kind of a camp for convicts. They come out here to get away from the temptations of the city, get sober, and work very hard. And they are all really nice, great people- with really great stories and prison tats. There are also a lot of local women that work at this pearl farm, which makes me happy.
Stay tuned for more details on how a black pearl is made and stories from our time at the pearl farms in French Polynesia!