Feeds:
Posts
Comments
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.”

Mexico night sky

NOCHE BUENA and a MIDNIGHT CLEARLY

Originally Published the Week of December 9, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

I was only going to be in Baja for a year. Has it been almost twenty?

 

The longer I am here the more Christmas seems to change a bit.   The early years were surely different.

 

I was living out in the “country” then. Well…10 miles down a dusty dirt road far off the pavement in the cactus and Baja scrub in a little remote Mexican bay. Far away from the city lights, I worked for a little off-the-grid hotel that only had 4 rooms.

 

And that’s all there was out there. Today, you still have to drive down a dirt road to get there and the hotel is closed and being re-claimed by the Baja sands. As so many Mexican dreams go.

 

I had very little then, but I often felt like I was king of the world at times. I was only half-a-step from living out’ve my old Dodge van at the time with fishing rods and an old one-room adobe. “Living the dream,” as many would later tell me!

 

I spent most nights sleeping outside in a hammock under a weathered palapa made of sticks.   Jimmy, my little dog and I lived much by candlelight and a propane stove. No phones. No electricity to speak of.

 

And I remember it was Christmas. In the Baja. In Mexico. So far from Christmases remembered.

 

I remember the brisk wind and the clear starry skies overhead where clusters of the galaxies were so thick as to appear as if a huge black canvas had been lightly airbrushed with white.   With no city lights, shooters streaked criss-crossing tracers from horizon to horizon.

 

I wore the same faded shorts and some awfully thin flipflops that had long since lost their tread. I’m sure I smelled like fish most days which is how I earned my living for the hotel taking their few clients fishing and diving.

 

No one ever complained about how I looked or smelled. I was part of the landscape in my ratty straw hat and cut-off t-shirts.

 

Mesquite was abundant so it was often just as easy to cook over a jumbled stone firepit I had made outside my little casita on the bare ground. It wasn’t much more than a rocky rise of hardscrabble Baja dirt. But…during the day, the little spot had a zillion dollar view of the beach and bay that would make a realtor drool.

 

But not tonite. A moonless crispy December night in Baja. I could hear the waves of the bay lightly crashing against the sands down the beach somewhere in the darkness below. With barely more than the stars above, the orange glow of my little fire fought a losing battle to penetrate the darkness.

 

But all is calm. My fire bright. Noche Buena. Christmas eve.

 

I pulled my thin flannel shirt a little tighter against the chill. Me and and Jimmy the dog. I tossed another branch of twisted mesquite into the flame.

 

I had come a long way from American cities and holidays past. Never in my wildest dreams would I have envisioned spending Christmas like this. Life takes funny turns. There’s a thin debateable line between an idiot and genius.

 

No tree. No carols. But, I had nature’s own magnificent light show overhead and the dancing flames of a mesmerizing campfire to hold gaze into.

 

Completely alone but not the least bit lonely. On Christmas. And it felt like it just couldn’t get any better.

 

And then, just outside the ring of flickering firelight, a shuffle of feet. A bit of laughter. Faces and smiles materializing on the other side of the orange haze of whispy smoke. The spectral ghosts of a Dicken’s Christmas?

 

“Que onda? Que tal, Jona! Feliz Navidad! Felices fiestas, Mano!”

 

It just got better.

 

Some of the commercial fishermen and their wives had trudged up the rise from the beach. Several packs of beer in hand and tattered beach chairs. Uninvitedly always welcome. Saw my fire. Come to join. Come to laugh.  Share the warmth of a chilly evening.

 

My Spanish was barely elementary back then. But, some things are universal. Bridges are easily crossed with smiles, high-fives, back slaps and shared fraternal cervezas. Especially on Christmas Eve.

 

They already had an obvious head start on me. No formalities needed. They plopped down around the fire and it was on. No need to break the ice. I toasted and laughed and did my best to sing.

 

In any language…”Noche Buena” is still “Silent Night.” I had no clue about some of the other rowdy rancho songs they sang.

 

We whooped at the top of our lungs and lifted Tecate cans to health and family, love, life and the star-filled night. Or nothing in particular.

 

You know that saying about “Dance like no one is watching and sing like no one can hear?” There’s a special child-like exhilaration attached to that.

 

Of all things, they started singing “Jingle Bells” in Spanish. I doubt my amigos even had a concept of a sleigh or reindeer or even snow. Ni modo…no matter! One more time with feeling from the top!

 

Then they asked me to teach them the song in English. Por favor!

 

Me leading! Oh my…ever fall over laughing? I don’t think there had ever been such a bawdy version…Christmas angels winced but couldn’t help smiling…

 

DOSHING TRUE DUH SNO

EN WUN WHORE’S O-PEN SLAY!

ODOR FEELS WEE-GO

LOFFING OLE DUH WAY

 

HO! HO! HO! (Everyone jumped in on that part with gusto!)

 

 

And we laughed and snorted and guffawed and stomped our dusty feet. I stared into that campfire and thought of perhaps another chilly night in the desert many eons ago. That brought others to a spot in the desert.

 

Some wise guys and sheep ranchers. Amigos of different languages and cultures. Pulled in by the flame and warmth of a beckoning light.

 

And here we were… A bit of light in the darkness on a windswept beach knoll in Mexico. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. As primal as that. Some friends. A few beers. Laughs and smiles. A song and and a welcoming campfire in the dark. Christmas Eve and all was right.

 

Noche Buena. Noche excelente.

 

EN WUN WHORE’S O-PEN SLAY ODOR FEELS WEE GO LOFFING OLE DUH WAY…indeed!

 

Only in Mexico! Andale and Feliz Navidad, mis amigos! God bless us everyone. Peace to you my fish brothers and sisters.

 

 

Somewhere even the angels were singing along. Once more with feeling.

 

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.”

GREAT TIME TO VISIT

This time of year is a good time to find your own little beach...and maybe something else too!

This time of year is a good time to find your own little beach…and maybe something else too!

A GOOD TIME TO VISIT

Originally Published the Week of Nov. 25, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

I have an usual method to measure the “ changing-of-the-seasons” here in La Paz.  My sure-fire way to know that the warm-weather tourist season has ended is goofy, but simple.

 

I walk outside our Tailhunter Restaurant and use the street as my measuring device.

 

For about 8 months of the year, getting across our main street from one side to the other is an exercise in agility, patience and frustration.  The long straight “malecon” that runs along the ocean-front of our city is like a mini-dragstrip.  Perfect for parades.  Perfect for marches.  Perfect to see how fast your car accelerates.

 

And that’s what it’s like getting across the street.  No one stops. Pedestrians beware.  Cars have the right-of-way.  That’s the unwritten law most of the year.   There’s two kinds of folks…the” quick” and the “quicker.”

 

Then, about now, it changes.

 

The shadows get longer as the sun rises and sets at a lower angle.  The bay gets breezier.  And, for some reason, people…and drivers slow down.  In fact, there’s just less people.  And using my “measuring stick” of a street, I can cross at leisure.  As many times as I want.  I can even stand in the middle of the street and take photos.   Ho-hum…

 

Where’d everyone go?

 

About this time, except for the influx of snow-birds, tourism just kinda slows down.  There will be a spike for the holidays like Christmas, but for many areas, from November to March, Baja changes from the “land of mañana” to “the land of maybe not even mañana…maybe the -day-after-manana.”

 

But, it’s a great time to come down.

 

Depending on your perspective, winter is Baja is either warmer or cooler!

 

It’s surely cooler than April to October when the legendary Baja heat sends visitors cranking on their hotel air-conditioning units or spending their waking hours at the poolside swim-up bar.  Humidity is nil.  Daytime air temps in the 60-80’s are more the norm.  You night even use a blanket at night.  It might actually be a good idea to pack a pair of jeans or slacks and a sweatshirt!  Some areas of Baja actually get “cold” by Baja standards and frost is not uncommon and you’ll see us locals in down jackets and watch caps.

 

Conversely, if you’re from say…the Pacific Northwest…Canada…the East Coast…you’ll find the winter months to be head-and-shoulders over shoveling snow or drying out from rain.

 

You’ll get a grin watching us residents “bundle up” while you saunter down the marina or beach in shorts and send Instagram selfies to your envious neighbors back home while holding icy margaritas.  Bargaining for silver jewelry for your wife beats crawling under your car to put on snow chains.

 

Further, as I alluded to above, crowds are down.

 

Be the only ones in a restaurant.  The hotel staff call you by name.  The bartender remembers your favorite drink.  No lines for attractions.

 

Actually find a beach where you’re not dodging beach balls or forced to listen to someone else’s obnoxious boom box.   Walk downtown and around town and sit and watch and listen, immerse and discover without a time-share or t-shirt sale dogging your every move.

 

If you plan to fish, winter-time fishing might put a whole different spin on Baja fishing for you. Cooler waters and perhaps windier conditions might predicate completely different types of fishing for you.   Winter or inshore species you hadn’t considered like yellowtail, pargo, cabrilla, amberjack and others will surprise you.  Shoreline fishing and beach fishing can produce sierra, rooster fish, jack crevalle and pompano and perch.

 

And there’s a good chance the waters won’t be crowded and the shorelines will be deserted!

 

And there’s that aspect again…just not many folks around.

 

And that’s good.  There’s opportunities for bargains and deals.  Taxi drivers need fares!  Negotiate to have a personal driver for all your days.   Or negotiate for a better deal with the rental car agents who all work on commissions.

 

Restaurants, eager for patrons have deals on drinks and food.  Many of the smaller hotels, and oftentimes the most charming, will often negotiate as well, especially if it’s off-line and person-to-person.  Ask for a deal on an extra night or two!  All they can say is “no.”

 

Same with tourist vendors.  Alway wanted to try snorkeling?  Want to do that glass-bottom boat thing?  Want some horseback riding or try that off-road ATV?  Ask for a deal.   Winter is the perfect time.

 

Bottom line is that often you’ll see a whole different side of Baja and Mexico during the winter months.  Even for frequent visitors who usually only show up during the peak warmer months, they find a completely different complexion to their favorite Baja locations this time of year.  For many it becomes a favorite.  And a hidden secret they sometimes aren’t eager to share lest the crowds come back!

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.”

El NINO NEENER NEENER

blog_el-nino-waves1

“EL NINO NEENER NEENER”

Originally Published the Week of Nov. 10, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

It’s inescapable. There are just certain things that puzzle you so much and make you sit back and go “hmmmmm…”

Like, how come a pair of socks go into the dryer and only one side comes out?

Or how come birds overhead ALWAYS know when you’ve just washed your car?

Or two treble hooks left in a tackle box will ALWAYS hook into each other?

Anyway, I’m writing this while overlooking the marina here at Cabo San Lucas waiting for the start of the Western Outdoor News/ Yamaha Tuna Jackpot Tournament.

It’s a lively place and the excitement that’s going to kick off is pretty palpable. It’s quite the circus atmosphere as more than 130 teams from around the world get ready to fire it up.

But, for the rest of Cabo San Lucas, life goes on as “normal.” Whatever “normal is, in this fun place!

The cruise ships are downloading swarms of sandal-wearing sun-seekers looking for t-shirts and “authentic pottery”. The booze cruise has a deckload of bikini-wearing gals and tattoo’d boyfriends whooping and vibrating to some bass-laden song my kids would know; and the street vendors descend on tourists swaying down the sidewalk with red Solo cups in hand and “Cabo Wabo” t-shirts stretched across sunburned shoulders.

“Cuban cigars. Best price, amigo!”

“Silver jewelry. Almost free, pretty ladies!”

“Two for one tequila shots all day, right here, senores!”

But part of “normal” all of the folks fishing here who aren’t part of the tournament and this afternoon, I’m watching sportfishers unload their catches. Catch flags are flying and it’s always interesting to see what gets off-loaded.

There’s some dorado. There’s a few tuna. Hmmm…a marlin.   Wahoo on that boat, nice one. A few more dorado over there. Looks like a decent day on the water.

But one fish catches my eye and seems to be drawing a crowd. It’s about 15 pounds and in a plastic bucket and I hear someone say, “That’s the strangest yellowfin tuna. It’s a mutant.”

But, it’s not. It has the familiar football tuna shape, but the elongated pectoral fins…that’s no yellowfin tuna! It’s an albacore.

Yes, the “chicken of the sea.” Highly-sought commercially. Normally associated with 57-62 degree water. Caught in the dark-blue-purple oceans from California to Washington. But, caught here in Cabo? In 85 degree water?

I guess it’s just one more thing to chalk up to El Nino. Or is it?

After experiencing a season’s worth of signs indicative of El Nino conditions, the scientific forecasters have finally “decided” that we are surely in an El Nino year.

It has been highlighted to the delight/ dismay of many depending on where you live and what you do for a living!

  • Warmer waters than normal played havoc with fishing season. Dorado and marlin up the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Massive tuna schools in southern California. Wahoo on ½ day charter boats out of San Diego.
  • Those same unseasonably warm waters killed off the bait south of the border in many areas which meant the fish schools moved elsewhere or, there was little or no bait for the fishermen to use
  • The same conditions lead to more storms on the Pacific Coast of the U.S. and Mexico. Some 2 dozen big storms were charted as evidenced by the recent “Hurricane Vance” that just skimmed off Baja the week of Nov. 4th. But it numerically underscores the fact that the storm folks have almost gone through the whole alphabet naming all the storms.
  • Highly unusual to even see storms in November in Baja, but warm waters draw storms!
  • The highlight/ lowlight of the year was the devastating “Hurricane Odile” in September that ripped Baja and was the strongest storm in Baja history registering winds in excess of 150 mph.   Months of repairs and recovery continue almost 8 weeks after the blast.
  • Should “El Nino” continue as predicted, heavy rains might show up this winter and early next year for much of the drought stricken western U.S.

So, if this actually is an official El Nino season (they usually span parts of two successive years), then one would expect that warm water fishing would continue for Baja fishermen for species like marlin, sailfish, wahoo, tuna and dorodo. Conversely, fishermen on the West Coast of the U.S. should continue to enjoy their phenomenal year on unusual species as well.

But, hold on. Something doesn’t fit.

Colder winter winds are already starting to blow into Baja. Water temperatures are dropping in many areas.

The fishing is already changing too. I doubt we’ll see a full-blown “albacore” run in Cabo San Lucas, but the fact that an albacore was caught says something about a fish that has a messed-up directional radar or, has followed a cooler current of water. I tend to think it’s the later rather than the former.

Where we are in La Paz, we’re seeing fewer dorado and other warm water species and already getting sierra, amberjack, roosterfish, cabrilla and pargo. These are all fish associated with cooler conditions.

Our air is already many degrees cooler than normal and humidity has dropped considerably. Winds are blowing stronger from the north and there are areas that are already too rough to fish on some days.

Everyone asks me , “What do you think, Jonathan? What do you predict if we come fishing?”

I’m stumped. It’s one of those things that make me go, “Hmmmm….”

One of my captains just taught me the word, “Perplejo.” It means “perplexed.” And that’s me.   None of this year has made sense.

Roosterfish or dorado?

Bait or no bait ?

Full moon no moon ?

Rain or sunshine ?

I’ve been wrong more often than not this year. My crystal fishing ball is on the fritz. I stopped trying to over-think it and ultra-analyze it. I just tell people, “Come fishing.” Then I shrug.

It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. Maybe we should be more concerned with fishing than what we’re gonna catch. It still beats work. And it’s still Baja!

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.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,145 other followers