Catherine Olvera
Mesmerized by the different varieties of sand, Catherine Olvera has many ways of collecting the granular substance.

When sand comes to mind, some people may think of beaches and tropical islands, but for procurement analyst, Catherine Olvera, she wonders if it's some she could add to her collection.

Born in Fort Hood, Texas, Olvera had a love of the ocean and dreamed of being a marine biologist. As a child, she paid little attention to sand and assumed it was the same all over the world. It wasn't until years that she developed a fascination with the gritty stuff.

"My husband and I cruised one year to Cancun, Mexico. The sand there was so different than what I was used to on the eastern seaboard. It was totally white and grainy. Before that I thought all of it was gray and fine, "said Olvera.

Intrigued but not moved by the Mexican sand; it wasn't until she heard about a section of the Bahamas that sparked her interest in starting her sand collection.

"There was an article in a magazine about a resort called Pink Sands in the Bahamas and there was a picture where they showed the ocean hitting the beach and the sand was pink," said Olvera.

Interested in one particular resort, she wrote them requesting some of that sand. Shortly thereafter she received a nice letter along with sand. The pink sand proved to be a catalyst for what would become a dirty little hobby.

She didn't have to physically visit every island or beach for her repository to grow. Instead her family, friends, and associates, once they heard about her hobby, began bringing some back to her every time they'd return from vacation.

She appreciates the beautiful, exotic atmosphere, and of course the wonderfully textured sand, of places like the Canary Islands; but her favorite location was Colombia, South America. In addition to the large variety of the granular material, Colombia was home for Olvera during her junior year of high school.

As far as future trips to other exotic locations, Olvera has no intentions of going anywhere anytime soon. Instead, she plans on creating jewelry and focusing more time on making a business out of her hobby.

"I am planning to retire in the next two years which by that time I will have had 35 years working in the government. In anticipation of that, I want to spend more time to focus on making jewelry," said Olvera.

Olvera has decided to share the joy of her sand collection with others who may benefit from it. She's decided to lend some of it to local elementary and junior high schools where they will use it in science classes. She hopes the children realize that something as simple as sand can have variety.

"You can look at sands from different countries and see the variety and difference between them," said Olvera. She's hoping the children will see it also.

Page last updated Tue September 29th, 2009 at 17:21