Home Model Page About Us Contact Us Testimonials Blog My Cart - Checkout

Toll Free US Only: (888) 318 4384
Outside US: (760) 321 5023


Please read our Blog Please like us on Facebook Please follow me on Pinterest Please check out Sausalito Silver's movies on Youtube Please check out Sausalito Silver on Google+

Welcome to Doug's "Wild Goose" Blog!

About The Author:
Doug has been involved with almost every facet of the Sterling Silver Jewelry industry since 1974. His experience includes manufacturing, importing and distribution. Also a key silver jewelry and fashion watch resource for major department stores and independents. In addition, an owner/operator of silver jewelry retail outlets

NOTE: You may reprint this blog in its entirety if you attribute the article to Doug Clemens and include the website link above.

Wild Goose in Baja 1974

Courtesy of Mr. Peabodyís "Way Back Machine."

The Plan:

My introduction into the world of Silver Jewelry...the condensed version, was a bit like following the White Rabbit. The only difference is this Rabbit headed straight down into Old Mexico and I mean way down into Old Mexico. How did this whole thing get started?. A couple of pals (sort of pals ) approached me with this highly technical plan on how to make a few bucks in the silver jewelry business. First question from them was, "Doug, do you have any cash?" I answered with a maybe and then I got the whole plan. We rent a pickup truck with a camper shell and travel through the boondocks of Baja visiting every little (tiny) fishing village on Mexicoís Baja Peninsula. We cover both the Western and Eastern sides for approximately ten days to two weeks purchasing seashells. Say what? Iím thinking okay...buying seashells on roads less traveled for financial gain or just another crazy Ď70ís adventure? What the hell, I'm in.

Now that the shell consortium had been formed, I grabbed all of the cash I had, which was $6000 or $26,000 in todayís dollars and off we went. I was not only in the position to bankroll this venture, unlike my new partners, I had also managed to flunk Spanish twice in high school. That qualified me as a linguist among my peers.

I eventually found out the hard way, that when the truck is bursting full and bottoming out, we can head for home. And at that point the mollusks are dying and believe me, that stench is unbearable. A quick Clorox job on the stinky critters and after we recover a bit, itís off to the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico and let the trading and selling begin. The second trip down...I hired an interpreter. Uh-oh, second trip? that means it worked?

Travel Highlights:

Doug circa 1974 Colorado River The Mexican checkpoints between the USA and our first destination were fairly routine with mordida (slang for bribe) already in hand and out the window for the military police at each check point. You donít want to look like rookies down there. However, the back of your head does feel a little vulnerable until you are well past the Federales and the automatic weapons. None of us were sporting crew cuts in Ď74 and one stop just prior to our first destination of Los Mochis we took on more than enough ďMidnight ExpressĒ anxiety to last us for the rest of the trip. It was between two and three in the morning. Looking back, itís much easier for me to justify their actions. Canít really fault them for checking us out completely. Why would we be out there at that hour? After all, we were asking ourselves the same question.

At first light (noon) we saw more cacti in Mexico than Arizona dreamed of. Desolate desert with water everywhere. A crazy yet spectacular dichotomy and definitely an area that needed exploring. Crazy beautiful beaches with killer sand like sparkling sugar and not a footprint for miles. After stocking up on some supplies, we took the overnight ferry to La Paz on Baja from the mainland and began our seashell venture only after one really wild night in La Paz.

The driving was okay on gravel and dirt roads but the most prominent thing you notice is you are very alone. No traffic of any kind whatsoever. Itís a bit of a shock while youíre trying to sweep the cobwebs out after a night in the city. I soon concluded that it was a very good thing that these guys had made a trip prior with a guide. Without that guideís knowledge we would have been totally in the dark. You had to know which dirt path towards the water would end with a fishing village or youíd be out there the rest of your life.

Guess it was about mid-day on a weekend when we saw a local trying to hitch a ride north. We were heading south but stopped to say hi. Best I could translate was he wanted to go north to see his cousin, however, with no traffic at all he chose to go back south with us. Made sense.

One of my acquisitions in Los Mochis was a bottle of tequila and somehow it had worked itís way into my hand from under the seat. As we passed the bottle on this bench seat pickup, our new friend was in the middle. It didnít dawn on me he was getting doubles. It certainly dawned on his wife when we got to his place. Regardless of how much trouble he was in, we were all invited to Sunday dinner.

Their house was located about 30 yards up and off the beach with an unbelievable view and wonderful breezes. It consisted of four tree trunks placed in a perfect square, probably 24Ē X 24í,no walls, palm thatched roof, an adobe oven and a picnic style table. That particular oven was roasting a Red Snapper wrapped in banana leaves. He had caught the huge fish in the morning and it was the size of most Tuna! Gorgeous. Served with a large bowl of Limones or Key Lime wedges and fresh homemade tortillas. Finger food to die for! After the leaves were unfolded everyone just sat there staring at the fish. No one moved a muscle. We were taught to wait for the hostess and they were not only waiting for us, they were waiting for a guest to eat the fish eye. A delicacy. Think about it...only two available right? It didnít take long for me to figure out who the guest was they were waiting for. The linguist. Wasnít crazy about the texture, but hey...40 years later and I still havenít forgotten that beautiful, fresh caught Snapper!

The host was kind enough to draw us a map in the dirt to a hotel that would take us in. They were truly embarrassed that they didnít have the room. What a great way to spend a Sunday with some very gracious Folks.

After driving around in circles in this little village with dwellings of all descriptions, we decided the hotel did not advertise. Turned out it was a not so large of an adobe walled adobe house. Goat tied to a tree in the dirt yard. Couple of friendly mutts. Free Range Chickens everywhere (a term that probably hadnít been invented yet) Momma cooking over the oven. We were home for the night. The sleeping accommodations were not the worst Iíd experienced but still unusual. They positioned two army issue cots side by side in the chicken coop affording no exit. Hanging wire overhead with a naked light bulb. That made for a perfect coop for a few hands of gin. After several games an old guy popped his head in, spoke abruptly to us in Spanish, and left. Of course Joeís going whatís up? Whatís up? Turns out we had a another roommate bunking with us. He had insisted we turn off the light because we were keeping his turkey awake and the turkey would loose weight! We took the hint and just hoped the turkey didnít snore.

Santa Domingo Pueblo 1974

Sandoval County New Mexico

The Shell Game

While winding through the beautiful White Mountains of Arizona towards New Mexico I was being schooled on how to determine superb heishi necklaces from nice heishi necklaces and bracelets. How to make certain the clasps are handcrafted silver findings or sterling silver machine made. By the way, Heishi is the Puebloan Indian word for shell. Who knew!? Itís pronounced (he-shee). Frankly, I first heard the word when these guys pitched me on making this trip. I had yet to see any of the jewelry. The masters of this style of jewelry making, I was told, were the Santo Domingo and the San Felipe with the Domingo being the most prolific. Our plan included a stop at the San Felipe Pueblo if we didnít sell out. I couldnít imagine selling out with all of those shells we had in that truck.

On arrival we registered with the Tribal Office headquarters as vendors and parked the pickup truck in the middle of probably a two acre gravel parking lot. We were able to hang an old fashion produce scale in plain sight from above the door to the camper shell. Then, no sign of any people at all. We just sat there. I was really having some second, third, fourth and major ticked off thoughts. Then suddenly the truck was surrounded by women pushing incredibly beautiful jewelry and cash at us! That made me realize how it must feel to be a "Rock Star." We had something they were absolutely desperate for. Apparently their shell sources had dried up. No pun of course. We sold out to the very last shell! It was a fascinating learning experience and a gig I worked a several times. During a few more trips to Mexico we began to invest in Mexican opal and fire agate rough. This added a little more diversity. Winning at the "Shell Game" was not easy. However, it did get easier. We discovered we could purchase shells from all over the world in adequate quantities just by driving to Los Angeles. Of course when it got easy the bottom pretty much fell out of the shell heishi business. Importers dealing with the Philippines saw this Indian Jewelry/Shell Heishe craze as an opportunity and flooded the market. Suddenly you could buy heishe for a couple dollars, add your findings and voila! It really put a damper on the Pueblo Indianís business. So, they switched to semi-precious stone and so did we. My new partner and I became one of the key sources for turquoise to the Pueblo. We were now totally wrapped up in the "Indian Trader" thing of the Ď70ís.

Quick story: We built memorable relationships with the Santo Domingo. During a visit we were delighted to accept a lunch invite down in the actual Pueblo itself at a tribal memberís home. After so many trips we were never allowed to venture into the ancient area of the actual adobe residences. After a great lunch and an education about making adobe and constructing a room addition, we thanked them graciously and they waved us on our way. On the trek back up to our vehicle, we realized we were unescorted in an area that is off limits. We heard something to our left and saw two women stirring a huge black pot over an open fire. Looked like it was right out of Macbeth. One of them yelled, "What are you white boys doing down here? Get over here right now!" We thought oops! and reported as ordered. Well, they both started laughing, apologized and gave each of us the best tamale Iíve ever had to this day! Thatís forty years of trying to beat the best. Iíve given up.


1. Wild Goose in Baja 1974
April 2014

2. Santa Domingo Pueblo 1974
May 2014

Save 10% Now
On .925 Sterling Silver Jewelry

See Details




Articles of Interest

go back to the top of the page
Tips for Silver Jewelry Lovers Current Silver Market Price Jewelry Business China
Fashion Jewelry Defined Jewelry Business Italy
Fundraising with Scrap Silver Jewelry Business India Jewelry Business Thailand
All That Glitters Jewelry Business Mexico Jewelry Business Bali Indonesia

100% Satisfaction Guarantee - If for any reason you are not satisfied with any item, return it for either an exchange or a full refund of the purchase price

Model Page | Contact Us | Sterling Silver Jewelry | Site Map

(c) copywrite 2002 - 2018 Sausalito Silver Jewelry Company: Your .925 Sterling Silver Jewelry Store

Acceptance Mark