Spotlight on Russ & Naomi Black

Oct 1, 2020 by Anita Kaltenbaugh

This month marks the beginning of Fall at the Sea of Cortez, a not to be missed month to visit and vacation. No one is more excited for the long closed down spring/summer of 2020 to be over and a sense of new normal to begin, than two long-time residents of Puerto Peñasco, Russ & Naomi Black.

I interviewed the pair at the beginning of April for the May edition of Rocky Point Times when the world was learning about the side effects of the planet pandemic. The pair have been an important fixture in our seaside village, creating opportunity, community and well just plain old-fashioned fun events.

During the beginning of the pandemic, the Mermaid’s Market, a creation of the pair, was shut down (second time ever) in 8 years. It was a strange time for all of us, and a defying moment. Many vendors of the Mermaid Market including Russ & Naomi, Tony Ballesteros, Marvy Blue and many, many others…continued to give back to the community by donating and serving food, making masks and helping out the local folks of Puerto Peñasco in a time of crisis. I asked Russ what he realized through the lockdown and shut down of Puerto Peñasco and he stated, “the loving, giving people of Rocky Point were so upbeat, the attitude, the giving organizations and the resiliency was amazing”. He added that even today, DIF, and many other community organizations are still handing out food and helping each other out.

Mermaid’s Market is a local artisan, crafts and food event held every 1st and 3rd Saturday in the Shrimp Plaza off Benito Juárez. Russ and Naomi started it 9 years ago with the hope of promoting art and community. This awesome event supported by the city, is a wonderful mix of Mexican, Canadian & US artists promoting wonderful art and an artist gathering. It started once as a Farmer’s Market and then the pair picked it up and renamed it Mermaid’s Market. The vendor and permit fees help support the community, DIF office and even expenses for students. The great news is, as long as the city keeps going in a positive direction with the COVID openings, it is tentatively going to be open again this month on October 18th. Vendors will be able to safely sell their goods once more. What a perfect way to shop during this time; shop and stroll safely outdoors in gorgeous weather.

The Mermaid’s Market isn’t the only brainchild of the dynamic duo, who moved here full time from Cottonwood 13 years ago. The couple fell in love with Mexico when they first started visiting the area 35 years ago which led them to forming a company and finding a way to introduce Mexico to travelers. Peñasco Recreation started as a small RV Caravan business. Peñasco Recreation is a Mexican Corporation and can offer fishing trips, city tours, Mexico adventures and serve as a ground crew for tour companies of any size. Russ works with RV Groups that want to caravan together across the border and have a fun experience in Mexico. If you want to cross the border with a group, Peñasco Recreation is your go-to. They work in conjunction with the Sonoyta police for escorts and give donations back to the city. They can help arrange excursions, adventures, bucket list trips and get you in and out as a group.

Another wonderful addition to our city that the pair brought to life, “The Seashell Museum”, awesome right? Naomi had so many seashells from 37 years of being a shell collector, she wanted to share them with the world and have a display. That simple display has now turned into something incredible with over 1400 people from nine different countries who have stopped in and signed, The Seashell Museum Guest Book. The Seashell Museum is on the same property as Off the Beach Workshop & Studio. The museum is free admission and the little   “gift shop” and is home to Sweet Naomi Re-Creations and SeaDebris Designs. The Seashell Museum has been open for over 2 years, to get hours and directions go to seashellmuseum.com.

If you want more information on how to become a vendor in The Mermaid’s Market or want help with a future tour or RV caravan email mexicoruss@gmail.com.

Looking for a reason to come down to Rocky Point? Why not make it the 3rd Saturday of October, and the first and third Saturday of November and December and have some outdoor shopping fun. Stop by and say hello to Russ (most likely serving drinks in the Mermaid outdoor lounge) and Naomi sharing her art, recycled handmaid gifts, clothing and jewelry.

Rocket Point tips their hats to this dynamic pair and thanks them for helping to grow community and have fun.

One of Naomi’s favorite quotes, “Live in the Sunshine, Swim the Sea, Drink the Wild Air…” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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