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THE CYCLES COME AROUND

Originally Published the Week of April 2, 2015 in Western Outdoor News

At the time of writing this, we’re just about to wrap up three months of attending the fishing/ hunting shows across the Western United States. We’re here at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego for the Fred Hall Fishing and Boat Show.

 

Back where we started in December.

 

From here, we drove to shows in Sacramento, Denver then Seattle. From there we did the big Portland show then Phoenix and Yakima. From there the drive west to the Fred Hall Show in Long Beach, then Salt Lake. And well, here we are back in San Diego!

 

If attendance, bookings and retail sales are any indication, the economy is looking up. It’s been an exciting three months.

 

Many of these shows were “off the hook” as it were. Attendance records were broken. Crowds were shoulder-to-shoulder in the aisles.

 

Vendors were selling everything they had and running out of inventory. I saw them scrambling to find fishing rods, t-shirts, lures…you name it!

 

“In all my years doing shows, I’ve never run out’ve fishing rods to sell,” said one of my amigos who specializes in custom rods. “ And people weren’t even bargaining this year. They paid the price on the sticker.”

 

“We had to have extra equipment drop-shipped from the manufacturer, “ admitted another amigo. “ I ran out’ve some things by the 2nd day of a five-day-show!”

 

Lodges, outfitters and guides also seemed to be having a banner season on bookings.

 

“Our lodge is completely booked up with a waiting list for the year. At the shows we’re actually booking for 2016 and 2017! “ said an Alaskan outfitter.

 

A couple who run a a guide service in a remote part of northern Canada were wide-eyed, when they confided, “Our bookings are triple what they normally are. That’s a good thing. The bad thing is that I think we’re gonna have to hire more staff.”

 

One of our other friends who owns a South African big game hunting operation. Hunters pay up to $30,000 for a hunt. They wrapped things up after 3 shows and went home.

 

“We canceled all the rest of our shows. We don’t have any more room for more hunters this season and most of next season too, “ he told me proudly. “We’re going home early to get ready.”

 

The general feeling was that either the economy has gotten better or folks are just frustrated of “tightening-the-belt” and the pendulum has swung the other way. People are spending on vacations again.

 

For awhile, a few years back times were slim.   If people are losing work or fearing foreclosures or other events, then fishing and hunting trips aren’t very high on the list of necessities. Understandable.

 

A lot of outfitters never made it through the bumpy times. We lost a lot of friends along the way. I guess it mirrored what was going on for everyone.

 

But, a lot survived. Hung in there. They learned to run leaner and work just a little bit harder to hang onto their passions and livihoods and thereby keep alive vacation dreams for so many others.

 

It’s good to see. It’s about time. The cycle always comes around if you can ride out the tough times.

 

It was like that for the fishing fleets of the West Coast, especially Southern California that just had a banner fishing year.

 

El Nino currents brought exotic and incredible fishing for tuna, wahoo, dorado and marlin to folks who normally never get to see that kind of action.

 

The frenzy of plentiful fish brought out the crowds. And many a landing owner, captain and boat operator let out a sigh of relief. They struggled during the years of tough fishing and slow economy too.

 

One San Diego captain told me, “We saw and continue to see crowds we never saw before. Guys who hadn’t fished in years re-discovered the fun of being on a boat again. They came out once, twice or more.”

 

“They brought their families and kids too! And maybe that’s the most important. We were losing the kids to Xbox and Facebook.   Fishing got them off the couch and onto the ocean. New fans for fishing!”

 

For those of us running operations south of the border, a string of setbacks put many in a spin. This included a slack economy; nervousness over swine flu; high airline rates and crime issues. The stellar fishing to the north meant there was no need to travel south for exotic fish.

 

But, an owner of one Baja resort put it in perspective. “As long as people are fishing that is good. Some years it is fantastic in Mexico and other times it is better in the U.S. “

 

“Like this year. Good fishing is good fishing. Think of all the people who started fishing again and all the new people who started fishing. At some point, they will think of coming to fish in Baja!”

 

It’s all a matter or perspective.

 

As it turns out, many of the Baja outfitters, hotels and fleets are also seeing an increase in bookings this year. We’ve been waiting.

 

Coupled with the heightened interest in fishing. Mexico is still a bargain place to visit. In fact, it’s the #1 destination for Americans to visit and has the highest tourism growth of any country. Additionally, lowered oil prices have resulted in cheaper airfare across the board.

 

It’s going to be a good season! We’ve been waiting!

That’s my story

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

 

_______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

Church Baja

Over hundreds of years, how many sandal-clad feet have entered these walls? What stories these weather-worn stones could tell.

 

A MUSEUM IS WHERE YOU FIND IT

Originally Published the Week of March 18, 2015 in Western Outdoor News

Every now and them someone comes up to me and says, “I looked all over for a good museum, and didn’t find anything that I couldn’t walk through in 5 minutes.”

 

I agree.

 

Especially, in Baja, and even moreso in the smaller areas, it’s hard to come across a “real museum” like the kind the average tourist might be looking for. There just aren’t that many.

 

But, I have found in my travels that if you really want a glimpse into the history, culture and soul of any place or people, there’s usually a museum in even the smallest towns or pueblos. They’re just not labeled as such.

 

Just find the church.

 

Remember when we were kids and many of us had to build a “California Mission” in 4th grade? It threw our families and fathers into a frenzy!

 

Our older sisters had to do it. Our younger brothers had to do it. The school chum next door had to do it. There was no escape from the cardboard, sugar cubes, construction paper and macaroni rooftops!

 

But, for many of us, our delving into the missions pretty much stopped when the mission got dumped into the trash.

 

But, the California missions were just a long line that extended all the way down to the tip by Cabo San Lucas. Those missionaries from Spain accompanied by their conquistadores were a busy lot. Claiming land and native souls for the Spanish crown…and the Church.

 

In that endeavor, they blazed a crazy trail up and down the western coast setting up churches big and small.

Many of us have visited the Califorinia missions regularly and they are huge tourism destinations…San Juan Capistrano…Santa Barbara…San Luis Rey. Pretty much many California cities can trace their genesis to an adobe house of worship around which grew a plaza…then a pueblo…then a village…San Diego…Los Angeles…Monterey to name a few.

 

The same thing happened in Baja but with less notoriety. But, the Fransiscan, Jesuit and other Catholic padres toiled in perhaps greater hardship in more arduous situations to eck out there footholds in Loreto, La Paz, San Jose del Cabo and numerous other little dots in the Baja desert.  Some are still there. Others have disappeared into the deserts.

 

The history of each location is written in the church. As the center of culture, religion, and the life of the pueblo, history is recorded.

 

In my travels, I have found this to be unfailingly true….Buddhist temples…Jewish Synagogues…Christian cathedrals…Greek Orthodox churches…even the littlest chapel in the middle of nowhere, there is history to be found.

 

Where we live in La Paz, one discovers that the city church took numerous tries to be established. The Spanish kept getting rousted by the local natives who didn’t take well to being overlorded by a new king or religion.

 

Check out the church in San Jose del Cabo and find out about the padres who were martyred in their efforts. They died horrendous deaths attempting conversions.

 

Take a day trip up the winding goat-trail-road to the mountains above Loreto to San Javier. The candle soot on the walls has been there for eons. Who in the world carried these giant beams up this mountain to build this church? How many native “converts” were convinced to haul this massive Spanish altar here using only ropes, burros and sunburned backs?

 

In any church, look at the woodwork; the pews; the statues; the art. It had to come from someplace or someone’s backbreaking work.

 

Even moreso, take a reverent walk through the cemetery. Check out the last names. Spanish? Indian? Anglo? Italians? Asian? A surprising number of Asian and Italians were part of the Baja frontier. So were the Portugese who joined along as pirates, adventurers, convicts and merchants either voluntarily or involuntarily hoping for a better life in the New World. Remember also, that the Spanish came with slaves.

 

Check the dates. Life was short and brutal.

 

If you made it to 30 years, you were pretty much dubbed an elder! Many babies and children are buried as well. Disease and a hard life took many early. Women and girls married early. Many died in childbirth. Men married again. Had more kids. More kids died.

 

If you see an abundance of deaths close to each other consider an epidemic of smallpox? Measles? An attack by natives? All of that is there to ponder and discover.

 

Inside many of the churches themselves, are the tombs or relics from the old padres themselves or, in some cases artifacts from the actual saints for which the church is named.

 

Someone, from thousands of miles away in Europe carefully brought it over. Imagine that journey. Months on a leaky pestilent wooden ship. Overland on foot or animal in the heat in sandals or boots. Mountains. Deserts. Rocks. Insects. Hostile locals. No water.

 

That’s how they rolled. All for a piece of bone. A bit of vestment from the old country or the old monastery that belonged to the venerated saint.

 

Yes, those are right there under the brick and cement by the altar. If you can still make out the chiseled lettering…You’re standing on the 300-year-old tomb of the old padre who made that insane journey on a wooden ship from Spain and never made it home again.

 

If you’re looking for history, look no further than the local house of worship. Just remember that these are still churches and should be treated as such. The ghosts of the past are always willing to speak to you, but don’t forget that the living are still holding Mass…getting married…getting baptized. Church remains the center of life for many as it did centuries ago.

 

Doff your hat. Keep your voice down. Take it easy with the photography. Drop a few dollars in the poor box.   Listen carefully and history will tell you it’s own story.

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

_______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

YES YOU CAN…MAYBE

beach shack

LIVING THE DREAM? IT IS POSSIBLE!

YES YOU CAN…MAYBE!

Originally Published the Week of March 3, 2015 in Western Outdoor News 

Admit it. At least once…probably more than once…maybe even several times today, you said to yourself, “I’m gonna blow this place and just move to Mexico!”

 

Or, you’ve entertained thoughts of simply leaving no trail and vanishing into the Baja to put your toes in the sand; a cold one in your hand and create your own Corona Beer commercial. C’mon. You know you have!

 

The grass is always greener on the other side. Heck, I’ve lived in Baja almost 20 years and there’s times when even I get fed up and say, “I’m done with this. I want In-N-Out burgers; push-button convenience; and roads that don’t puncture my tires and wreck my suspension.”

 

But seriously, Baja is high on the “leave-it-all-behind” list. In fact as a whole, Mexico is the #1 vacation and retirement destination for Americans. Some have a plan. Some don’t. Some just wing it.

 

I once met a guy. He was in construction and got crushed in the latest economic fubar a few years back. Frustrated with trying to stay ahead of the game. Decided he’d had it and was going to make his own game.

 

Sold what was left of his business. Bought a big RV and tied his boat to the back of it. Strapped his surfboards on the roof and came south. No forwarding address.

 

Last I heard, he was living on the beach south of La Paz on the Pacific side. I won’t tell you where. He actually had a girlfriend come looking for him once who looked me up hoping to locate him. It wasn’t like I had an address or he had a phone.

 

He had built a little palapa over his RV. He was teaching surfing lessons. He had built a little public shower out’ve old pallets and bamboo and PVC tubes. Fifty cents for 10 minutes of hot water. Discounts on shower time if brought him a 6 pack of beer!

 

There was another guy many years ago. His family came down looking for him. His wife had passed. His kids were grown and off doing their own thing. He hadn’t had much contact with them.   His exit was a little more dramatic.

 

All he said was, “I’m driving to Baja.” His family didn’t think much of it. He was retired and was a travelling kind of guy. But, as a former executive, he at least kept in touch with folks.

 

After five weeks, no one had heard from him.

 

They came into La Paz putting up “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN?” posters everywhere.   It had a fuzzy black and white photo of a smiling guy on an ATV named “Bradley” from Phoenix.

 

They had been up and down the Baja hanging posters searching for him. As I watched them put one up in front of our offices, I could see the angst, frustration and fatigue.   They told me the story. All I could say was that I’d keep my eye out.

 

Several days later, I happened to be out on the sidewalk and saw a tall scruffy bearded guy in cargo shorts and sandals looking intently at the photo. He saw me looking. He looked back and smiled. I raised an eyebrow at him. You?

 

He raised a knowing-eyebrow back.   Looked back at the faded flyer. Smiled a crooked smile and kept on walking. Hmmm….

 

Similarly, I’ve run into others who only go “by first name only please!” Or have openly told me they don’t want their photos taken or “I haven’t used my real name in years, and I like it that way.”

 

Usually said with a laugh. But, they are serious.   They have disappeared into the “frontera” (frontier) of the Baja.

 

Some folks just don’t want to be found. They have their reasons. Some are being chased…family, wife, kids, the IRS. Or not. Others come to chase something else. A vision. A dream. Themselves. Everyone has demons and angels.

 

I haven’t quite figured out my own motivations for 20 years in Baja myself.  I’m still working on it!

 

The stories can continue. Yes, it can be done.  And many do it.

 

But, most aren’t quite so dramatic or abrupt.

 

But, before you put out the “closed” sign on your business; bid adios to the U.S.A. and just sail, drive or surf into the Baja sunset, think first.

 

Don’t crack that beer just yet without some due diligence and a well-thought out exit strategy.

 

I guess the most important thing. Figure out how you’re gonna eat. As good as beans, tortillas and cerveza were on your vacation, it gets old after awhile. And dorado fillets don’t just jump into your refrigerator.

 

If you’re not bringing a coffee can full of cash, then it would be a good idea to figure out a source of income.

 

That means Mexican bank accounts and well, perhaps all the things you were trying to get away from in the first place.  Because, you need documents, documents, documents…starting with a passport…immigration forms…and that’s just to start.

 

If you hated bureaucracy (bureau-CRAZY) in the states, just wait until you get a taste of the Mexican version which is even doubly-mind-boggling, if you’re a gringo.

 

So, much for disappearing because now you’re back “in the system. “ And then there might be taxes to pay. So, you hate the IRS? You may have to now pay taxes in TWO countries.

 

And don’t forget if you start buying things, like land; a home; a car (with driver’s license of course!) and other things.  You’re leaving a trail.

 

So many have the impression that it’s “looser” in Mexico, but like anywhere else, there’s criminal laws, labor laws, civil laws; property laws, immigration laws etc.   And like anywhere else you respect the law.

 

Compliance isn’t optional. And the last thing you ever want to do is run afoul of Mexican law.

 

If none of that matters to you and nothing I’ve written has discouraged you, then come ahead! There’s a sandy beach, blue water, the friendliest folks and a lifestyle unlike anything imaginable waiting for you!  I’ll buy the first beer. See you down here!

That’s our story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

_______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

Mexican-Border-Arizona-Tourists-x

It’s all about having fun! But how you do it is as important as what you do! Smile for the selfie!

 

AVOID LOOKING LIKE  A TOURIST IN MEXICO!

Originally Published the Week of Feb. 17th, 2015 in WESTERN OUTDOOR NEWS

Well, we’ve been at this almost 20 years now running our fishing ops here in La Paz and we see almost 1000 fisher-persons a year.   I love to people watch. It occurred to me that there’s some tips and observations to pass on about avoiding looking and acting like a tourist.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to speak Spanish. No matter how limited. Do your best! It’s appreciated and encouraged.

 

  1. Don’t be an idiot and speak “Spanish” by simply adding an “El” to the front of every word or adding “O” to the end of every word. For example, “I want-O el plate-O of el chips-O ” will only get eyes rolling. Don’t laugh. I hear this more often than you think.

 

  1. If someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying in English or Spanish saying it 10 times or saying it LOUDER is not going to help!

 

  1. Don’t be the ugly American and complain out loud and try to make everyone understand YOUR English.   Saying, “How come you don’t understand English?” isn’t going to make you any amigos.

 

  1. Lose the sandals or tennis shoes with black socks. Or the leather Thom McAnn shoes with black socks…especially if you’re wearing shorts.  Come to think of it, lose the white socks with sandals too!

 

  1. Don’t be a cheapskate. Tip for service! Minimum wage in Mexico is about 8 bucks A DAY! So, even a dollar or two is much appreciated. Ten percent is nice. Fifteen percent rocks!

 

  1. Try to restrain yourself. Starting sentences with “Well, back in America we do it differently” or “Mexico does everything backwards…” is bad form. Don’t be insulting. You’re a guest!

 

  1. Americans love to walk around with shirtless. It took me years to realize, it’s bad manners.   Sorta of like coming to dinner wearing your jockey shorts.

 

  1. No one is impressed when you pull out rolls of cash. Be discreet.

 

  • Smile dangit! It’s universal. Works in all countries. You’re on vacation.

 

  1. Never call someone over with your palm facing up and beckon with your fingers, “Come over here.” That’s how you clean parts of your anatomy. Better with your palm down and beckon with your fingers like you’re pawing.

 

  1. Make a friend for life. Ask to take their photo! Mexicans, especially the ladies, LOVE to have their photos taken and are very photogenic. It’s considered quite a compliment.

 

  • The universal “bro-handshake” with every cool guy is the casual side-to-side hand slap (low five) followed by the knuckle bump. Try it! Deckhands…captains…waiters…taxi drivers…Now you’re one of the guys!

 

  • Eat where locals eat. Eat at carts or little hole-in-the-wall places. If there’s others eating there, eat there too! It’s a sure sign that it’s better than the place next door where no one is eating.

 

  1. Try something new on the menu or, if you’re in the company of locals, ask if they’d suggest something. Don’t scrunch up your face when they tell you what it is. Just because it has a strange name, doesn’t mean it tastes bad.

 

  • For sure, order what they serve. Don’t go to a seafood place and then order the steak that’s way down on the menu. If you want a steak, go to a steak place.

 

  • There’s no such thing as a “typical Mexican restaurant.” There’s places where locals eat and there’s places where tourists eat. Taxi drivers tell me all the time, that gringos ask for a “typical Mexican restaurant.” The taxi driver doesn’t know what to say. Tell him specifically what kind of food you’re looking for!

 

  1. Lose the camera. Or at least be courteous. Respect privacy and use common sense. Folks love to have their photo taken, but no one likes having a video camera or your big zoom lens zero on them.

 

  • Share what you have. Bag of chips. Candy. Fishing gear. Fish.

 

  • Be remembered forever. Leave or bring a gift. A t-shirt with a logo or a baseball hat are highly prized and expensive in Mexico. Especially if it might be something that reminds them of you. Everyone loves souveniers. That shirt from the company picnic will be treasured a long time.

 

  • Pull up your pants. You might be “gangsta” back home, but locals think you look ridiculous. They’re laughing behind your back. Come to think of it, they’re doing it back home too.

 

  • “Please” and “Thank you” in Spanish or English is always understood and appreciated. At the very least!

 

That’s our story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

whaleswdennis 311

 

CALL of DUTY SURPRISE

Originally published the week of Jan. 22, 2015 in Western Outdoor News

There are certain things you do in any job that get tagged “Grin and Bear It.” They are the things you MUST do because it’s part of the job and, as much as you’d rather be elsewhere, you at least have to look like you’re enjoying yourself.

 

Whether you’re a big-time executive…a parent…drive a truck…fly rocket ships, etc., there are those parts of your week that can’t be avoided.

 

Like having to get dressed up to go to a relative’s house for a holiday and “make nice” when you really want to just sit on the couch in your own home and your saggy sweats and watch the big football game.

 

In our business, we label them C.O.D. Days…”Call of duty.”

 

For that that could mean waiting up past midnight for clients that have a delayed flight that doesn’t come in until after midnight.

 

Or hunting around at the last minute for (a) sunscreen (b) hat (c) fishing license (d) cell phone (e) all of the above. Because the client (a) lost (b) forgot (c) never had the thing in the first place.

 

Y’know. Stuff like that. A “Call of Duty” event.

 

It was like that the first time I got tabbed to go whale watching. I knew it was a cool event but one of our other guides had a family emergency and, at the time, I was low man. You know what they say about things flowing downhill.

 

It was going to be all day. I didn’t think it would be that eventful. I wasn’t looking forward to driving 3 hours from La Paz to Bahia Magdalena and 3 hours back. Having to make small talk all day.   And, I had seen whales before elsewhere. No big whoop-dee-doo.

 

As it turned out, it was me that was the doofus. It turned out to be almost a life-changing event.

 

The clients were pleasant, lively, conversational and fun! That always helps on a fun drive through the dessert to Bahia Magdalena that starts in the dark at 6 a.m.

 

The drive takes 3 hours, but there’s a great stop for a huge Mexican breakfast of huevos rancheros with chunks of grilled beef, fresh tortillas, toast, chilaquiles (breakfast nachos) fresh juice and hot coffee to kick off the day.   Any other day, I’d have wanted to take a siesta after a breakfast like that.

 

When we arrived at the Bay, I was surprised how many people were there. Families…tour groups…school kids…It was quite an enterprise. I bit like a Disneyland atmosphere rife with excitement and anticipation and groups lined up then boarded pangas to head out onto the bay.

 

It was quite an amusing production line! Boats came back and unloaded one group and another group would board.

 

Given how much each person paid to go out and with 6-10 persons in each panga, these panga captains were doing banner business. Good for them. Most were hard-scrabble commercial captains and the income for the three months of whale watching season from January to March is welcome.

 

It’s amazing how things have changed. Several centuries ago, grey whales were almost hunted to extinction. But, as with so many things, if you can label it “eco tourism” and make a living at it, the winds of capitalism blow favorably.

 

Again, good for them. Win-win for all!   Especially the whales!

 

From where we were on the land, the bay is extremely narrow and occasionally, whales could be seen breaching not far away as folks oo’d and ahh’d from the beach and pointed.

 

We boarded our own panga with about ½ a dozen other folks. Having been on other whale watch tours before, I hoped we would MAYBE see one or two and go off chasing them around with everyone trying to get a glimpsing or photos.

 

Not this time!

 

Within minutes we were in the calm waters of the bay having our first “interaction.” A mom and her calf.   The mom stayed about 20 yards off our starboard but the calf…all 15 feet of it…seemed curious.

 

Our captain suggested we all splash our hands in the water. Little by little, the baby got closer . Until…it was right next to the boat.

 

Eager hands reached out to touch the “little guy.” It seemed eager itself and seemed to enjoy being petted. Cameras whirled and clicked. Video cameras jockeyed for position.   People laughed and smiled.

 

I did the same. For a brief moment, it’s eye came out and looked at us and I reached out and gave it a rub! I pulled back laughing as if doing something I wasn’t supposed to do. Like getting caught with the cookies.

 

And everyone laughed.   And it seemed to wink then moved along the side of the panga as if asking everyone to “rub me more.”

 

It blew a misty flume of water that showered everyone and had everyone ducking with laughter and covering their cameras. And the baby moved away under mom’s wing. “That’s enough playtime with the funny creatures in the boat, Junior.”

 

That day, I think I counted more than 40 whales. I would touch at least 4 or 5 and most whales were within a few yards of us all day.

 

One would leave and two would pop up. We’d see others glide beneath us or others spy-hopping (holding vertically in the water to see what’s going on!).

 

It turned out to be an amazing day.

 

After a few hours we returned to shore to a huge shrimp and lobster lunch that again had me wishing for a hammock siesta, but the long drive back kept me smiling. The clients were passed out behind me asleep.

 

The whales are here in Baja until mid-March or so. It’s the longest migration of any animal on earth as they come from the Bering Sea each year to the calm lagoons of Baja to give birth and mate.   Give it a try!

 

That’s our story!

Jonathan signature

_______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

 

For your next vacation...perhaps a little fishing and some grill work or a facelift?

For your next vacation…perhaps a little fishing and some grill work or a facelift?

SOUTH OF THE BORDER..a LITTLE NIP…TUCK…and TROLL!

Originally Published the Week of January 22, 2015 in Western Outdoor News

Tourists cross the border to Baja for any number of reasons. There’s the food. There’s shopping. There’s the great beaches and hotels. And, if you’re reading this column, well, of course there’s the fantastic fishing.

 

But, there’s another side of tourism that doesn’t get talked about a lot. It often goes unreported, but more than 700,000 foreigners, mostly Americans and Canadians go to Baja for medical treatment every year.

 

Some are fairly routine.

 

“I bring my family here to fish every year,” explained Wilson, one of our clients at Tailhunters in La Paz. “But we also get our teeth cleaned too,” he added with a grin. “ It costs me $150 dollars just for my kids back home, but here in Baja, it runs us only about $20 each!”

 

Josh, from California, spends several weeks in Baja each year. “There’s a terrific Chinese acupuncturist in La Paz who helps me with some nerve and muscle damage I have from Viet Nam. Compared to back in California, I can go several times a week in Mexico.”

 

Others are a bit more urgent.

 

Over my almost twenty years working in Baja, I’ve had clients come to have surgery for a torn rotator cuff; carpal tunnel syndrome; hip repair and knee surgery.   To most, they’ve told me the care was great, but moreso, the costs were a fraction of what they had expected to pay back home.

 

In some cases, there were emergencies. There’s not too much worse than getting hurt while on a vacation.

 

Of course, there’s the usual…hooks-in-fingers…allergic reactions to bug bites…jellyfish stings…cuts…scrapes…dehydration…heat stroke.

 

But, in some cases, treatment was critical. A client who got a little too much margarita jumped into the shallow end of the pool. He went head-first and broke his neck. There have been several acute appendectomie and a broken bone or two (alcohol involved!).

 

In all cases, treatment was fast, quick, competent and especially in the emergency cases, surprisingly good and cheap.

 

John had an emergency root canal in the middle of his fishing trip. “It was incredible. The dentist spoke English and the facilities were as modern as any I’ve ever seen. It would have cost me thousands back in Los Angeles with our family dentist.”

 

Ralph’s side pain in the middle of the night turned into appendicitis and he was rushed to surgery.

 

“I got a private room for almost a week. Great nurses. Doctors who spoke pretty good English. They even called my family doctor to check on me and they had the hospital commissary make American food for me. “

 

He added, “At the end, when they gave me the bill they apologized that it was so high. I couldn’t believe it. Laughable. It was so low, I used my credit card and felt like I should have put a tip on it! Easily 10,000 dollars more at home in Utah.”

 

Other treatment, while perhaps not so urgent, to some is even more important.   Baja is quite a center for cosmetic surgery as well. A nip…a tuck…a bigger/ smaller boob…a bit of lipsuction on the love handles.

 

Indeed, some of the cosmetic surgery clinics advertise “vacation packages” that include hotel and other amenities. You have a little work done under the radar. Recover quietly in sunny Baja. You return with a certain “glow” and no one is the wiser!

 

Like anywhere else, there’s good and bad practitioners. But, I’ve personally always had great care. Many of the doctors I’ve met and a good number of dentists actually received their training in the United States.

 

However, I always suggest asking around. If a doctor’s place looks like it’s down a back alley and has folding chairs, it’s probably not a good gamble. I won’t kid you that fraud is rampant and there’s guys out there that literally purchased their diplomas to hang on the walls.

 

But the good professionals have a track record and grow. Their professionalism in appearance is usually a good indicator of their abilities.

 

There are still some “doctors” who plant themselves next to pharmacies in little hole-in-the-wall offices. They are literally sitting at a folding table.   You walk in or walk up.

 

There might be a hallway of folding chairs each with someone who wants to tell the doctor their problem. The line moves fast. There’s no medical history taken. No temperatures taken. No names given.

 

Pay 5 bucks or whatever the going rate is . Tell the “doctor” what’s wrong. No real diagnosis. He just tells you what drug he thinks will help. He writes you a “prescription” for the pharmacy next door.  Off you go. Next in line “por favor.”

 

Hopefully, you’ll never need any emergency care on a vacation, but especially with growing medical costs, Mexico is a viable alternative for many people.

 

A little fishing…a little sunshine…a margarita…While you’re there, suck some fat. Grow your boobs. Cap some teeth. More folks do it than you might think. Multi-tasking Baja style!

That’s our story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

_______________

 

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

 

donkeys

Road trips where you wrote you own captions and every curve there was something unexpected!

“HOW WE ROLLED RUMBLED AND STUMBLED”

Originally Published in Western Outdoor News the Week of January, 6, 2014

Driving the Baja…

 

There was a time not long ago when I actually had the time to drive up and down the Baja Transpeninsular Highway. Time was not “of the essence” and even with cheap flights, gas was still so cheap it was more economical to drive.

 

These were the days several decades before there were regular convenience stores and Pemex gas stations dotting the landscape.

 

Yes, the Transpeninsular was a relative Mexican engineering marvel for its day. Officially called Federal Highway 1, it was quite a feat.

 

Being in the U.S. we take highways for granted and few who visit Baja today remember what it was like before the highway. Even those first years after its completion in 1973 were a bit rugged.

 

Highway 1 dotted-dashed-scurried-and-ribboned the entire 1,000-mile length of the Baja corridor from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas. No doubt, to have one solid-length of pavement was a vast improvement over the previous road(s) which required the abilities of a world-class off-road driver and a vehicle that was about as indestructible as an Abrams tank.

 

Even in its completed state, it was politely called a “highway” sporting just two lanes. Laughingly and affectionately, it was called a “leveled goat trail” by its fans who still saw it as a vast improvement.

 

But, the word “solid” is relative. Like so much in Mexico. “Pavement” has many meanings!

 

There were sometimes more detours around missing parts of pavement than actual pavement. That meant forays into the nearby desert.

Potholes stretched for miles and trying to navigate in-around-and-out of them was like trying to dash through a minefield.

 

Sooner or later, the odds were you’d get rocked. The Spanish word for “pothole” is “Hoyo” (OY-yo)…as in OH-no! Which is what you said as your suspension or axle suddenly groaned in agony as it slammed into crater after crater. And you hoped you still had an oil pan.

 

But, so many of us drove the trek regularly, and looked forward to it. It was an adventure of adventures. It was almost a rite of passage to tell someone, “Dude, I just DROVE the Baja.” You didn’t “drive TO Baja.” You didn’t “TRAVEL to Baja.”

 

You proclaimed your coolness and told folks, you “DROVE the Baja.” It was sorta like “riding the Banzai Pipeline.” Or “running with the bulls.” Or “scuba diving with sharks.”

 

Instant cred. Very high on the “neato scale.”  At least a 9 in the ooh-aaa factor.   A bucket list things for guys.

 

Yup…Us cooler dudes, “DROVE the Baja.” Back in the day, the coolest of the cool folks declared they “SURVIVED the Baja” because that was always a pre-cursor to a good story, too! Driving the Baja was one thing.  “Surviving the Baja” meant that a good tale was to follow.

 

The “survivors” brought back great stories and tall tales of roadside frontier adventure. There were flat tires…busted fan belts and axles and green unfiltered gas bought from a guy with a 50-gallon drum and a handpump.

 

How about those swarming mosquitos and flies? Sunburn…hangovers…stalling in sand-filled arroyos and waking up in strange places. And what’s a good story if it didn’t include Montezuma’s revenge… a hurricane… a sandstorm or the occasional ill-advised romantic liason?

 

But, there were also golden gems of deserted white sand beaches and glorious crimson sunrises…mouth watering handmade roadside tacos… ferocious fish that had never seen a hook… perfect thick-lipped waves that had never been surfed…friendly warm people…icy beers and barbecued lobster eaten with fingers and campfires under carpets of stars.

 

And always, there was one more dirt road off the beaten path that beckoned to be explored…begged to be explored. Every adventure started with the words…”We decided to pull off the highway…” Or “We stopped in for just one small tequila…” Or, “I was eating a greasy taco and my eyes locked on this pretty girl…”

 

Federal One has become bigger, better and safer after all these years. There are still stretches of the wild Mexican frontier that go for miles. But, you’ll see more gas station. More convenience stores. RV parks and hotels too.

 

It’s just not the same anymore. You climb on a plane in the U.S. You ride the sterilized tube through the air and maybe see a bit of dessert or ocean below. You exit into an air-conditioned terminal with a thousand other people.

 

The biggest adventure and closest brush with danger is running the gamut of airport vendors trying to rent you a car or get you on a time-share trip.

 

“Free fishing trip, Senor? Just need two hours of your time for a small presentation.”

“Eh amigo, do you need a taxi?”

“Discount snorkel trip for you and your family?”

 

The height of your anxiety and adrenaline level is wondering if your luggage will get searched by duty inspectors at the airport.

 

You remember that undeclared bottle of Jack Daniels hidden in your boxer shorts.   Your wife thinks they inspectors will pull out her lingerie in front of everyone.   Blood pressure zooms.

 

Or major panic. Now that you’re through customs, you can’t find the shuttle driver who was supposed to meet you at the terminal. Whew…there he is. He was hidden behind all those other shuttle drivers!

 

Man, that was stressful!   Gonna have a double margarita at the pool bar as soon as I dump this stuff in the room.

 

It’s just not the same anymore. And neither are the good stories.

 

“The room service didn’t have cheesecake…” is a lot different from

 

“Did I tell you about the time these Mexican fishermen with lobsters came to our campsite and wanted to trade for a 6 pack of Budweiser? And one guy had a guitar…and my buddy Dave pulled out a bottle of Cuervo?”

 

“Man…let me tell you…”

 

Editor’s Note:  Jonathan and Jill Roldan of Tailhunter International Sportfishing (www.tailhunter-international.com) in La Paz make the Mex 1 run often. They are at their first show of the year for them, at the ISE show in Sacramento that starts Wednesday at Cal Expo, with stops in Long Beach and Del Mar on the SoCal schedule.

That’s our story!

Jonathan signature

 

Jonathan

_______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

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