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PASSPORT PANIC

Don't be this person!

Don’t be this person!

PASSPORT PANIC

Originally Published the Week of Sept 28, 2016 in Western Outdoor News

Oh no! Did you really let that happen?

A chill goes up your backside. Palms get clammy. You just want to bang your own head against something unforgiving…like a concrete wall.

You can already hear your family or friends rip into you.   But, it can’t be much harsher than the names you’re already calling yourself.

Everyone has been planning this trip to Baja for months…or years! Everyone was looking forward to it. It’s all everyone has talked and thought about. You’re jacked. You’re pumped.

If you can’t go, it affects everyone’s vacation. Not just your own.

And now you feel like a total doofus supreme.

You realized your passport is expiring. Or you forgot to get one!

Until now. And the trip is just around the corner.

Your own excuses sound pretty lame. Even to you.

“I was really busy!”

“I forgot!”

“No one told me!”

“I need a passport?”

 And there’s absolutely no one you can throw under the bus except yourself. It’s your own darned fault! Your own stupid negligence. Let the flogging begin.

Or you can get past it and go pro-active and see if you can salvage this.

Let’s start with the basics. Tacks and nails. Maybe it’s not too late!

Your passport is good for 10 years. Read this. Go get your passport now and take a look at it. Don’t wait until the lady at the airport asks you to show it to her for seat assignments. With a long line of anxious people behind you.

(Sidebar note. Some countries require that you have at least 6 months validity still remaining on your passport. )

Still good? Great. Move along. Take a breath. Crack a brew.

Expired? About to expire? You don’t have one to begin with? OK, time to move.

It takes about 4-6 weeks to get one. Maybe longer if it’s that “rush” time when everyone is getting passports. Like just before summer or holidays.

Start here: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports.html. You can do a lot of it online.

Got less than 6 weeks? Crunch time? Underwear bunching up?

You can get one expedited in 2-3 weeks.   It’ll cost you at least an extra 60 bucks. Peanuts really given that your butt’s in a vice.

According to the government, you can expedite by mail. Get your application documents together, toss a check into the envelope. Mark “expedite” on the envelope and overnight the thing.

For some folks, like me, that would be too nerve wracking. I don’t want to be waiting by my mailbox. I don’t want to wait everyday for the mailman as the trip gets closer.

The alternative is making an appointment at the nearest passport acceptance facility and take care of this in person. Get this done! Here’s the link to find the nearest acceptance facility near you: https://iafdb.travel.state.gov/

If you’ve got less than two weeks. You’re not beaten yet! You’re just a bigger knucklehead. Suck it up.

You must make an appointment at a Passport Agency or Center. In addition to extra fees plus the applications and documents, you must show proof of impending national travel. You must call for an appointment. Call 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793.

But wait. You really blew it and you’ve got less than a week before the trip.

You’re not completely out of the game yet. Maybe. Close, but not yet.

There are private “courier companies” that are called “Passport Expeditors.” They are not part of the government or government run, but are allowed to submit passport applications on behalf of folks like you.

They are listed online. Read all their fine-print of what they can and cannot do.

Basically, your negligence is their emergency. They’re SWAT and Seal Team Six last ditch black-ops to get your little blue book.

Just know this. Just like the real military guys, nothing is guaranteed. This is your own fault for waiting until the 13th hour.

The U.S. government also says that there’s no guarantee that it’s any faster than if you made an appointment at a regular government input facility. At some point in the process, you’ll still have to drag yourself to a government passport center.

Even if the expeditor says you can do everything online, the government says, nay nay. “We still wanna see your stressed self face-to-face.”

The government will not intervene nor does it have anything to do with these collateral services. But, they’ve been known to be helpful in a pinch.

This will also cost extra for the service. But, it’s an alternative source that might be able to help. You’re trying to save your vacation!

If all this fails. Fall on your sword. Man up. Blame the dog for eating your application or the postal service for losing the mail.

Hope it doesn’t come to that because otherwise, we’ll miss you down here! We’d had for you to watch everyone’s vacation on Facebook when they share photos!

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.”

 

hurricane-party

When life sends lemons…put ’em in the blender to make tortillas!

CHUBASCO – One Outfitter’s Two Cents

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 14, 2016 in Western Outdoor News

Well, as I write this, we just came through another hurricane down here in Southern Baja.   I think for me, it’s about number 8 or 10. Several while in Hawaii. Several of them here in Baja.

It doesn’t happen often.

I forget the litany of names. Norton was the one that just paid a visit a few days ago. Juan was a kicker. Henrietta busted us up pretty bad too many years ago.

Odile in 2014…that was historic and it’s effects still linger. You can see Odile’s tracks today. Broken buildings that never got repaired. Missing trees. Busted billboards that were never fixed.

Odile was a Category 4 or 5 hurricane with winds at almost 200 mph. Roofs went flying to Oz. Trees were tossed about as if a giant hand knocked over a chessboard. Boats were torn from anchor chains and moorings. No water or power…sometimes for weeks to some of the outlying areas.

We live in La Paz, the capital of the southern state of Baja Sur, and you’d think we had those essential services pretty fast. Well, it’s not like back in the U.S.

We went almost 2 weeks using flashlights and seeing how many creative uses we could find for a single bucket of water. Showers…flushing…cooking. I have to say, we got pretty good at it.

Newton, a few days ago, was pretty mild by comparison. Some trees. Lots of mud. Some busted glass. Some roofs (although that’s hardly “mild” if you’re the one losing part of the roof of your home!).

I have mixed feelings about hurricanes…”chubascos”…if you will.

As we run two big fishing fleets of pangas plus a large open-air restaurant, my first concern is safety for our guests, clients and employees.   And their families.

If, like this last one, it doesn’t look too bad, we’re good to go.

Newton was only going to last a day at most. With winds at 50-60 mph and gusts to 100, that sounds like a lot. However, if you warn folks to stay indoors, stay away from windows (or tape them up), it’s just a big storm racked up on steroids.

Secondly, and sadly, folks are gonna lose a day of activities be it, fishing, snorkeling, diving, day tours…whatever. I hate that. Vacations mean a lot. But, back to safety. We don’t want accidents.

Even if it might look good to you, trust us. Or you want to go out “for a few hours until the storm hits.” Nope. We keep you off the water for good reason. We don’t do “Three Hour Tours” ala Gilligan’s Island.

Weather happens. We can’t control rain and wind any more than I can control sunshine and tides although some folks DO expect it.

Yes, if you paid for the vacation, it surely is MY fault. “Why did you make us come down for a storm?” or “You ruined our vacation!”

I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t Disneyland where all the rides are robotically controlled and every environment is hermetically sealed for your convenience. I’ve looked all over for the on-off switch!

Believe me, every outfitter I know from Alaska to South America hates to have to cancel trips too! We all rely on happy smiley people.  That includes YOU!

So, as much as possible, we try to take the lemons and make lemonade…or margaritas, in our case.   I put a positive spin on it, as much as we can.

We tell our guests to stock up on beer and water and ice.   Munchy food is good to have too. Yup…go hog wild with Doritos and Chips Ahoy! Most of the better hotels have generators or at least loss of power is minimal.

And, I make a point of keeping folks informed.

Where the storm is coming from. How long it might last. Why it’s happening. Why we can’t fish. What to do when it hits. Information about airports and flights. People are terribly hungry for information.

Most have never been through a big storm like this.

And this is where I like to “sweeten those lemons” and brighten the potential gloom.

As long as they’re safe, I like to tell folks to enjoy it. Honest.

What else are you going to do?

To me, it’s fascinating to watch real weather…watch the skies and the ocean and rain all come together. I marvel at the power of nature frankly the magnificence of it all.

We have come so far with technology and consider ourselves the center of the universe and the apex of evolution. NOT!!!

When you watch a storm roll in…the ominous sheet of black clouds…the winds that sound like an approaching train…the sheets of rain…it’s a rare person that isn’t humbled.

I know that I am.

We have yet to harness the earthquake…the snowstorm…the tornado…the hurricane. Mother Nature sends us these little reminders about our relative place on the planet.

I try to impart that to our guests.

And, in that respect, I guess we are a lot like Disneyland.

It’s an “E-ticket” ride that might get a little scary. But at the end, you come out’ve the dark funhouse back into the light. The “safety bar” comes up and you all laugh…sigh…and head for a hot dog. And all along, you knew that’s how it would end.

“Most interesting part of the trip!”

 “Wow…that was incredibly fascinating!”

 “Maybe you should charge extra for that next time and just schedule a day off from fishing!”

 “Best Baja trip ever!”

 “Sat inside and just watched nature’s big screen TV in awesome HD!”

“I wanted to sleep in anyway!”

“Drinking margaritas and being part of…instead of watching the weather channel was kinda cool.”

 “First time in years…no phones no internet…my office couldn’t reach me. I wasn’t compelled to answer e-mails. I had forgotten how wonderful that was! I read a book and took a nap…in the middle of the day with the sound of rain outside!”

Are some of the comments, I’ve gotten.

Of course, this is not to make light of the seriousness of the larger storms; those who have indeed suffered bad property loss or injury; or the safety issues.

Always, safety first.

Weather happens. Make the best of it.

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.”

Attack of the Stoopids!

 

7-30-15-3

ATTACK OF THE STOOPIDS!

Originally Published the Week of Aug. 31, 2016 in Western Outdoor News

I have no doubts that you’re like me. Every now and then, you have “an attack of the stoopids.”

 

It’s one of those slap-yourself-in-the-head-kick-yourself-in-the-rear-moments when you do something so uncharacteristically STUPID, it just amazes you. Yea…it’s a knucklehead moves that happens to all of us.

 

It happens to some more than others. Surely, you have that one fishing friend who seems more prone to it than just about anyone you know.

 

In more than 20 years here in La Paz, we see it more often than you might imagine. These are cases where smart, otherwise intelligent folks, leave their common sense back home when they come on their Baja vacation.

 

…And they get the “Attack of the Stoopids.”

 

These really happened. There’s an old saying, “Your negligence shouldn’t be MY emergency.” But check these out…

 

Like the frantic call from the fisherman at the airport who doesn’t know what to do. He didn’t know he needed a passport to visit Mexico. Of course, it’s my emergency. “What should I do, Jonathan?”

 

The guy with intestinal problems. He didn’t remember until the day he arrives that he didn’t pack his colostomy bag. By the time his family Fed-Expressed it to him several days later, he was turning colors.

 

We’ve had similar situations with anglers who forgot their heart medications…their HIV meds…and a glass eyeball…(not kidding).

 

And then, another good guy who had too many tequilas. He did a huge belly flop into the pool and his dentures flew out’ve his mouth. And broke. His last words were, “Hey everyone, watch this…!”

 

Speaking of packing, sometimes the smartest folks have stoopid attacks.

 

I had a neurosurgeon who always let his wife pack his bag. She forgot to pack extra underwear for him.

 

He woke me at 2 a.m. in the morning, asking what he should do. He didn’t have underwear to go fishing in the morning. Dead serious. Had to assure him it would be OK. The fish wouldn’t care.

 

“Are you sure it will be OK? Jonathan?”

“Yes, Doc. We’ll take you to Walmart tomorrow after fishing.”

 

Then, there’s the good amigo who comes in the morning to go fishing.  He can’t understand why the shorts he packed are so tight and don’t fit right. “They pinch!”

 

Turns out he had packed his wife’s shorts in his suitcase. He was wondering why they “rode up.” You bet they “pinched.”

 

Or the guy who opens his suitcase in his room. Instead of his fishing clothes he finds lacy black lingerie, high heels, a feather and a whip! Turns out he grabbed the wrong black bag from the airport turnstile!

 

There was one guy with a recipe for disaster. He got drunk and decides he wants a tattoo for his birthday. Next morning, across his chest instead of his wife’s name” ROBERTA” it says “ROBERTO.”

 

Jewelry can be a problem. Wedding rings…

 

We got a call from the airport. The client is frantic. He took off his wedding ring and he’s headed home now and just remembered he’s not wearing it! He’s pleading for us to search his room. He had some explaining to do when he got home, I’m sure. We didn’t find it.

 

We’re always getting calls, from folks that hid money, valuables or jewelry in the toilet tank…ceiling tiles…taped to the back of dresser drawers…in the air-conditioning duct…And then they forget! And don’t remember until they’re back home.

 

Or worse, they KNOW they hid it and now they are gone. But, they can’t remember where they hid it.

 

Of course, it’s up to US to go through the room and figure out where it’s hidden! Often the room is already occupied by someone else!

 

Back in the day when travelling was easier and a lot looser, a guy call us. Hopping mad. We were waiting for him to arrive. He apparently boarded his plane.

 

When he asked the flight attendant for the immigration papers to fill out, she told him you only need the for international flights. His secretary had booked him to Laredo, Texas instead of Loreto, Baja, Mexico!

Someone was gonna be looking for a new job.

 

We had a similar “vacation fail” with a family that messed up their vacation and ended up on a flight to La Paz, Bolivia instead of La Paz, Mexico!

 

Fishing gear is especially susceptible.

 

Guy walks in to show off his brand new custom flyrods…right into the ceiling fan. Whap! Whap! Whap! No more tips. Ever seen a grown man cry?

 

Or the angler who forgets he had 5-pounds of frozen squid in his tackle box. In the trunk of his car. In the Baja sun.  And they leaked. Into the back seat. For two days. And it’s a rental car.

 

Or in the middle of a red-hot bite, the fisherman who realizes he clamped all his reels on his rods…backwards.

 

Or shows up to fish and it hits him…he FORGOT to bring his reels and only brought the rods!

 

There’s just no cure. The knucklehead bug can hit us with an “attack of the stoopids” at any time!

 

You see, some of the things I mentioned above.

 

I’m the guy who was the knucklehead.   Even I leave my brains at home sometimes.

That’s my 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.”

cc_081231-sunrise

“Tap Double Click & Scroll – Information Overload”

Originally Published the Week of Aug. 16, 2016 in Western Outdoor News

As a little kid in Hawaii, a cacophony of wild roosters started my day.  I would climb out the upstairs window and shimmy down the drainpipe. In the semi-darkness a slivered sunrise peeked over the ocean a mile away down the hill.

A barefoot run across the wet grass to the neighbor kid’s place next door. Step over a lazy dog or two. Stand on the trash cans tippy-toe and knock on the glass. He would climb out the window too.

We weren’t sneaking out…per se. We just knew going out the window was better than waking up the whole house and incurring the wrath of family members.

We’d grab our “tackle” and off we’d walk to another fishing adventure. Daily. Same routine. Two brown-skinned island versions of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

Tackle consisted of a bamboo “pole.” No reel. Our line was called “string.” Sometimes it really was just that… string. Sometimes, we had a few yards of the real stuff we called “suji” that was highly treasured.

One or two hooks. A piece of stinky shrimp or two for bait. Some cold fried spam and rice for lunch wrapped in wax paper carried in a threadbare makeshift rice bag over the shoulder. No shoes. No shirts. No worries.

And that was it. It worked.  All the time.  Didn’t know any better. Didn’t care. We had fun.

Fast forward. Many years. Many fishing trips. In a galaxy far far away. Today. Living in Baja running a fishing operation.

On the internet. I am researching. Tap. Tap. Scan. Click. Delete. Tap. Click.

Every week, I get questions about fishing tackle, tactics and gear.

“What’s the best rig for wahoo?”

“Do you think green line will work best for inshore fishing or should I use clear?”

What do you think of …?

“Everyone is talking about this new bait that guarantees a bite. Is it true?”

Many of the e-mails are politely prefaced with, “I hate to bother you but…”

Or, “I have a dumb question to ask…”

Listen, from many years fishing and making a living at it, I know a thing-or-two. I know what I know. But, I’m always learning. I don’t know everything.

But, if I don’t know something, I like to look it up so I can sound half-way knowledgeable when I respond to these questions.

So, I usually hit the internet. It’s a long way from a bamboo fishing rod with “string.”

It’s a curse, I tell ya. Or a blessing. It’s another of those things that cuts both ways.

I sometimes feel like this “information super highway” is more like a fire hydrant you just can’t shut off. Tap. Tap. Click. Tap. Scroll. Delete.

There’s just TOO MUCH INFORMATION!

 

Eliptical gearing

Hyper-speed

Tournament Carbon

Hangnail Point (my favorite!)

Selectable Power

Helical Cut

Cold Forged

Prism Flash

Flex Nylon

Say What? Where does one start? Where does it end? How does one make a decision? If I’m confused, I can imagine poor Mr. Jones who goes fishing maybe once or twice a year.

It’s impossible to sift through it. But we bumble and stumble and make our call and our “informed” decisions.

Back in “young kid days,” Mr. Haraguchi’s tackle store was part warehouse, part tractor shop and part dry goods store. Old Mr. Haraguchi could fix your “Frigidaire” or sharpen your garden hoe or adjust Auntie’s Lani’s Singer sewing machine.

Mr. Harguchi’s store used to be painted pink at one time, I think. Maybe back when the missionaries first landed. Or Captain Cook. It was a long time ago.

Exposed weather-scoured concrete blocks peeked through what was left of the paint job. Like someone had taken steel wool to the walls.

A patchwork of rusty tin roof pretended to protect the interior from the island sun and tropical showers. It was next to an expansive sugar cane field and a gravel utility road to nowhere on the edge of our small plantation town.

Inside. Nothing fancy. No displays. No signs. No neon. I don’t remember if it even had lights. It was always dim. Like your favorite uncle’s old garage. I remember subdued sunlight struggling through a greasy back window showing the ever-present red Hawaiian dust.

It had ancient glass display counters here and there. No aisles to speak of. More like haphazard “islands” of merchandise. Jars of odds and ends. Boxes and crates in no particular rhyme or reason.

If you needed something, you asked him. He’d put on his wire glasses and shuffle to find things of which only he knew the location. His old rubber Japanese slippers rasping along the concrete floor here. Then there. Ah…here they are.

Hooks came out’ve a yellowed-box. Right next to the penny nails. Fishing lead was fingered out’ve a foggy-glassed apothecary jar. It was there next to another jar of hard black licorice.

See it? It’s on the dusty scratched-glass counter with kitchen knives and FOUR-in-ONE oil as well as boxes of cellophane-wrapped Japanese candies and preserved plum seeds.

If you asked for something and he didn’t have it, he would just tell you that you didn’t need it. Or just say, “You don’t need it.” Cut you off mid-sentence.

What about…? You don’t need it.

Do you have..? You don’t need that either.

He was patient enough to also tell us little fellas why we didn’t need it. Keep it simple. And that was that. Old Mr. Haraguchi was always right.

Go catch fish, kids. I’m busy. Aloha.

A bit like Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid movies. Or Cain from the old Kung Fu series. Move along, little Grasshopper. Grand master of word economy.

He’d take our nickels and pennies carefully counted out and cha-ching them into the ancient tarnished cash register. Then scuffle away to whatever he was tinkering with in the back room.

I could use Mr. Haraguchi hovering over my shoulder today. Click. Scroll. Tap. Double tap. I surf the web muddling through technology,

No, you don’t need that. You don’t need that either. He would probably tell me that I also don’t need the internet. Ouch. Harsh!

But, I never forgot that he told me to keep it simple. And so when I answer tackle questions, I try to tell folks to keep it simple too. I try to do the same if I get confused or carried away by the onslaught of information.

Note to self.

Don’t get too confused by the marketing. It always boils down to simple things and simple rules. Fish gotta eat. Big fish eat small fish. Big fish…big bait. Make the fish eat what is on your hook and you will catch the fish.

Mr. Haraguchi was always right, Grasshopper. Click. Scroll. Tap. Close laptop. Go fish.

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.”

Heat+wave+temperature

THEY SAID IT WOULD BE A DRY HEAT

Originally published the Week of Aug. 2, 2016 in Western Outdoor News

It was 4:30 in the morning. Still dark. The hint of a moonglow could be seen behind the layer of illuminated cloud cover.

 

Not a leaf was moving in the heavy air. Neither, were Nieto, the hotel security guard or myself. Moving that is.   That would have required effort.

 

We sat on the front steps of the reception area of the hotel. We were waiting for my fishing clients to come downstairs so we could load them in our shuttle van and get them to the beach to go fishing.

 

Nothing was moving except the beads of perspiration rolling off my forehead and my arms.   I could see Nieto was soaked as well. The only movement I could see in the dark were his eyes blink and his Adam’s apple swallow hard. Enduring it.

 

As I found out later, at 4:30 a.m. it was 93 degrees but the humidity was a whopping 89% already! Oppressively all-encompassing Baja steam.

 

Apply any cliché you want. It hung there heavy as a soggy drape in a steamroom gym. Blanketed over your head. Actually breathing heated wet air. Like mom left the vaporizer on. Or the shower turned full to “H.”

 

I’m generally not a sweaty person. I’ve lived in tropics of Hawaii. I’ve lived in Washington D.C. I’m no stranger to humidity. But, I can’t remember when it was simply too sticky to even move.

 

Heck with this, I thought. I’m a weenie. When the clients come downstairs, they can load themselves in the van. I’m headed for the air-conditioner.

 

I didn’t really do that, but I was sure thinking it! How can this be? The sun isn’t even up, but the earth was already a giant steamed tamale.

 

But, it’s getting to that time of the year. Temperature-wise, it might be a tolerable 90 degrees. But, it’s the humidity that stops folks in their tracks, saps energy and sometimes makes folks pretty sick. I have clients from Vegas where it’s 130 and 110 in Sacramento and 118 in Phoenix but wilt here in Baja by 8 a.m.

 

And these aren’t reckless folks. They’ve got the hats and sunscreen and long-sleeve t-shirts. They’re doing their best to stay under the boat’s bimini shade.

 

But, that’s all well and good for the sun. The sun comes from above. Humidity permeates everything. It’s nature’s terrorist assault from all angles.

 

First, you’ve got warm water being heated even more by the sun. It’s evaporating all around you and rising into the air. It makes the air heavy.

 

If there’s enough of it, it rises into clouds above the water. You can often see big puffy thunderheads building up by the end of the day especially bays and channels where the water is shallower, warmer and therefore more susceptible to heat and evaporation.

 

This is also the rainy season, so-to-speak. Regular high-cloud cover is not uncommon as cells big and small roll through. They’re not necessarily dropping precipitation, but enough to somewhat block the sun.

 

Well, El Sol doesn’t just go away. It’s burning right through that cloud cover which is putting even more moisture into the air. Just because the sun isn’t shining doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburn. It doesn’t mean it’s any cooler either.

 

You end up with this chopsuey of heavy air. It’s not a dry heat. It’s a wet thick viscous gooey heat that’s not in the travel brochures.

 

I was doing some reading in a great book called “Grunt…the Curious Science of Humans at War” by Mary Roach. She goes into some fascinating details about clinical studies done on behalf of our troops in the Middle East regarding the deadly combo of heat and humidity.

 

Physiologically, she explains, “ When the air is cooler than 92 degrees Fahrenheit ,the body can cool itself by radiating heat into the cooler air. Over 92, no go. Radiation’s partner is convection: That cloud of damp heated air your body has generated rises away from your skin, allowing cooler air to take it’s place. And, provided it’s drier, allowing more sweat to evaporate. Likewise, a breeze cools you by blowing away the penumbra of swampy air created by your body. If the air that moves in to take it’s place is cooler and drier, so, then, are you. “

 

If it’s not moving and hot and heavy, you’re not getting cooler You’re gonna overheat. You sweat more, but it’s not necessarily cooling you off. And sweating, is drawing blood and moisture from other parts of your body.

 

Say, you’re in a boat fighting a fish and exerting yourself, Roach explains that the muscles you’re using demand more blood and oxygen that the body needs for sweating and cooling the skin.

 

Go long enough and your brain doesn’t get enough blood.   It’s needed elsewhere to help toiling muscles. Blood pressure goes down. You get heat exhaustion and faint.

 

Not necessarily real serious except you panic everyone, but now you’re horizontal, you’re no longer exerting.  Blood flows back to your noggin. Your buddies help you to your feet. Your terrified wife says next year, you’re going to Disneyland.

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Heatstroke, on the other hand, can get your wife that big insurance policy. She’s going to Disneyland without you.

 

Again, it’s the competition for blood as your muscles want blood and oxygen and your sweat is trying to cool down your core. You’re underhydrated (you pee’d away all your beer) and theres not enough water to replenish your blood volume. The exertion is also generating heat…in the heat of the sun…in the humidity. CRASH!!!

 

Deprived of oxygen, glucose and toxic waste pickup, organs start failing. Perfect storm. Bacteria leaks into the blood and a “systemic inflammatory response” sets in, and multi-organ damage ensues. Delerium, sometimes coma, even death may follow, according to Roach.

 

Ever fought a fish long and hard and it can’t be revived?  Same thing. Over-exertion and systems failure. That’s you! Belly up. Gaffed and into the box.

 

Don’t be a fish! Be pre-emptive.

 

Drink lots of water. Hydration does NOT include mango margaritas or light beer. I aim for an ounce for every pound I weigh. Daily.

 

In addition to sun protection, help your body with loose light-colored clothing. There’s a reason folks in the Middle East wear billowy clothing. It helps keep the heat off the skin and helps evaporation of sweat. Dark colors absorb heat.

 

Also, for Pete’s sake, keep your shirt on. Yes, you’ve got great tribal ink and I hate your six-pack abs, but you’re not doing yourself favors.

 

It’s false security. Studies show bare skin gets as much as 10 degrees hotter than fully-clothed skin. Plus you’re gonna get sunburned as hell, lobster boy.

 

Prevention doesn’t take much. Go fish. Don’t be a fish. Be ready to fight another day. It’s prime time for fishing right now and through the fall. Stay upright!

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.”

126741-hanging-out-with-our-couch-surfing-mexican-friends-and-2-token-english-friends-chihuahua-mexico

Make new friends!  Step outside the box! Get yourself invited somewhere!

NEXT LEVEL MEXICO VACATION

Originally Published the Week of July 19, 2016 in Western Outdoor News

So, you’ve done the Baja/ Mexico thing a bunch of times.

Yawn… You did the booze cruise. Check

You’ve danced the Macarena until dawn. Check

Photo taken with the Tijuana donkeys painted like zebras? Done that.

Photo taken upside down at the Giggling Marlin. Want to forget that one, but check.

Ensenada love boat/ cruise ship. Check.

Zipline and dolphin swim. Right.

Flirt with skin cancer without a shirt on the East Cape. OUCH. That too.

Camel riding? Uh…that one can wait.

 

So, what next? I was thinking of my personal list of “must do” things if you wanted to go outside your comfort box and maybe take your next Baja trip to the next level.   Here’s some suggestions.

  1. Eat at a Mexican food cart – To some of you, that’s as natural as pulling up to the McDonald’s drive-thru. To many locals, it’s exactly the same. I saw some statistics that show 85% of Mexicans eat 70% of their meals from carts.

However, you’d be surprised how many gringos either really want to try it and don’t know where to start.   Or, they scrunch their nose at the idea. Give it a go.

Just like back home with a burger joint, go to the place that has a line around it. Especially late at night. You can’t go wrong. Not only economical, but some of the best tacos, tortas (Mexican sandwiches), fresh seafood, burgers (served with ham…called a “hamburger” for a reason), burritos and hot dogs (Mexican style wrapped in bacon and slathered with chili, mustard, mayo and onions!)

  1. Befriend a Taxi Driver – If you ever run into a taxi driver you really like. Hire him for the day. Most of them jump at the chance to have regular work and not only do you make a great friend, but probably the best tour guide you ever had.

Taxi drivers know the best places for local food, shopping, and tours. Sure, it might be their cousin Sergio’s place, but so what? You’ll probably get extra special attention and better prices than at the tourist places. Tip well and make a friend for the rest of your trip.

  1. Go to a Farmers Market or Open Market – Every Mexican city has an open market. Often in a warehouse, permanent or semi-permanent booths offer fish, seafood, vegetables, cheeses, household items and artisan handicrafts.   And the food booths offering empanadas, sopes, menudo, tacos, carnitas (roasted pork) and other delicacies served at food counters or picnic tables are not to be missed. Get some true “local flavor” on all levels. You can smell the barbecue and chilis a block away!

By the same token, many open air “farmer’s markets” are popping up as well. Here’s where folks like us often purchase our organic groceries and vegetables, breads, cheeses, sauces, eggs and chicken. But, many vendors also sell barbecued meat, pies, wine, pastries, pasta and other goodies. You may have noticed a “food theme” in this column this week. Very neighborly atmosphere!

  1. Visit a Church – As in many Spanish-speaking nations, the church has been a religious, cultural and social center since the days of the conquistadors.   Take a visit. Especially to one of the older churches. If you can, hopefully, you’ll catch a Mass, wedding, baptism or First Communion. If you really want a sense of the local community, this is it.

Be respectful. Guys, take off your hats. Go easy with the cameras. Leave a small offering in the poor box.

If it’s one of the older churches, don’t forget to look at the architecture and artifacts…the massive beams…the stonework…the craftsmanship borne of religious dedication and simple back-breaking work. Imagine the energy it took in the Mexican heat to build the structure or get some of those items from the old world.

  1. Get Wet Higher Than Your Waist – Our captains and I know what you’re doing when we see you walk out into the water only up to your waist! But seriously, take the plunge hopefully up-current from your buddies. At least step away from the hotel swimming pool!

I fished in Baja for years before I decided to bring a mask and snorkel. That led me to eventually get my dive certification and eventually become a working divemaster. I never regretted it.

It’s an entirely different world “down there” and even coming from Hawaii, Mexico has some of the most intensely beautiful waters in the world and surely more sealife. Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez the “aquarium of the world” and to-date, more than 700 species of fish have been identified. It will give you an entirely different appreciation and respect for the fragile incredible ecosystem.

  1. Find a Park on a Weekend – Find a bench. Feed the birds. Listen to free performers and musicians. Buy an Indican carving. Purchase some pastries from a food booth and wash it down with some icy sweet watermelon or cantaloupe agua fresca. Listen to poetry readings or school kids doing plays. Join into a game of checkers (no Spanish needed) or for a few pesos guy a card and play Mexican bingo with the locals.
  1. Get youself invited – I love telling the story of one of my fishing clients who was walking down the street after dinner one night. A retired school teacher, he got stopped by some young men. They invited him to a “party” the next night and said they would pick him up at his hotel.

He came to be a bit anxious and asked me if he should go. Without having been there or knowing more, I told him getting in the car with a bunch of young guys to go to a party might not be a good idea.

I found out later, he went anyway.

It turned out to be a bunch of college students taking an English class and they were on a scavenger-hunt-of-sorts to “bring a gringo” to dinner. The whole class was there for a barbecue along with several other “captured gringos.”

Being a former school teacher, he told me what a great time he had answering questions about life in the U.S., movie stars, English words and phrases. “The girls wanted to know about fashion and how many celebrities I knew. The guys wanted to know about American girls and pick-up lines!” He said it was one of the best experiences he ever had.

If you can make friends in Mexico (life your favorite taxi driver or fishing captain or waiter), get yourself invited to a dinner or a wedding or some other social event. Of course, don’t just wander off into a dark alley or jump in someone’s car. No matter where you are in the world. Use common sense! But, some of your most treasured moments of your vacation are often found away from the hotel swim up bar or buffet line. Be a good guest!

8.  Stop Moving at All

Get off the tour bus.  Step away from the disco music. Get away from the traffic at the marina.  Turn off the sports channel.  Find your own beach.  Wake up before dawn and do NOT go fishing.  Find a patch away from the neon and watch a sunrise.  Sit.  Watch.  Listen.

Go at night.  Find the highest spot you can away from the lights.  Watch the moon and stars travel across the the expanse.  Feel the breeze.  Let the earth talk to you for awhile.  Let yourself talk to you for awhile!  Breathe.

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.”

Collage Mexican Wages

WELL THAT EXPLAINS ALOT

Originally Published in Western Outdoor News the Week of July 5, 2016

I was doing a little online research about some obscure Mexican history and, as web-surfing often does, I stumbled into some completely different stuff.

And, that led me to something else…and something else.

That’s why it’s called “web-surfing.” And there went my evening and my initial research.

I bumbled upon a couple of websites that post lists of the average wages for various Mexican jobs.

Take a look at some of the higher end occupations.

I looked at websites and divided by the current peso-to-dollar exchange rate of the devalued Mexico peso. It’s 18 pesos for one U.S. dollar right now.

Compare them to your own job. Would you be willing to work for these paychecks? Ready to apply?

Remember these are the jobs that require either a bit of education or at least a good chunk of experience. They show median salaries for these job categories.

Of course, these are general and salaries vary from area-to-area. There are also other variables to factor into the equation like experience; city; specific industry, etc.

These might surprise you.  I did a double-take myself…

 

Operations Manager – $28,016 per year ($2334 per month)

 

Information Technician – $27,031 per year ($2252 per month)

 

Softwear Engineer – $15,132 per year ($1261 per month)

 

Design Architect – $10,237 per year ($853 per month)

 

Physician (General Practice) – $13,080 per year ($1090 per month)

 

Graphic Designer – $7560 per year ($630 per month)

 

Check out what your average State and Federal Mexican police officer pulls home (before taxes, etc.)

 

State Police Officer – $6,666 per year ($555 per month)

 

Federal Police Officer – $8000 per year ($666 per month)

 

Municipal police officers make a lot less.

 

Contrary to the stereotype, there are many good, hard-working and dedicated law enforcement officers in Mexico. But, you can imagine the temptation to either accept bribes; look the other way (“They don’t pay me enough to risk my neck or my family!”) or outright participate in criminal activity.

Now…

Take a look at your average worker in Mexico. These are the good folks most tourists run into on a daily basis on their vacations.

As of the beginning of 2016, the average minimum wage in Mexico was raised to a whopping (drumroll please)…

$73.04 pesos…or about $4.05 PER DAY.

That’s not per hour. That’s what you would earn PER DAY if you were an average employee or general laborer in Mexico.

And yes, taxes are technically deducted just like anywhere else. Maybe union fees, social security, etc. That’s an astronomical gross of $28 bucks a week!

Your working day can be 8-12 hours per day or longer. There are no regulations really on how long you have to work. I know guys who work 10-15 hours regularly. And no overtime!

You go 6-7 days per week. Do the math and you’ll get pretty depressed fast.

It kinda helps explain the immigration situation a bit. It’s why your local Home Depot has a ready labor group willing to paint your fence.

What would YOU do if you had a family to feed and you pulled down less than $30 per week?

And, at the rate the peso is falling in the market, you’re earning even less than ever and it’s not looking good!

So, what must your average hotel employee think as Americans toss $20 bills around. Or we think no big thing of $100 dinners.

Leaving two bucks on the dresser of your hotel room for the maid is a ½ day salary for her. Imagine receiving a tip at your own job worth ½ of your daily salary.

Here’s some other general minimum salaries to take a look at:

 

Chain Grocery Store Cashier – $4.92 per day ($34.44 per week)

 

Security Guard – $5.23 per day ($36.67 per week)

 

Hotel Maid – $5.37 per day ($37.59 per week)

 

Electrician – $5.55 per day ($38.85 per week)

 

Mechanic – $583 per day ($40.83 per week)

 

Bartender – $5.36 per day ($37.58 per week)

 

Janitor – $4.05 per day ($28 per week)

 

So, let’s see. If you make 4 bucks a day and your boss makes you work a 12 hour day. You work 6 days a week you’re pulling about 38 cents-an-hour for a $28 work week.

You and I both know folks that won’t get out’ve bed for $28 an hour, let alone $28 a week.

My point being is that the next time you visit Mexico, you might see the taxi driver; or the waiter; or the lady sweeping up your beer cans a little differently. Or the police officer. A different perpective for sure.

It’s pretty harsh where someone like a Mexican doctor makes less than a high school kid at McDonalds back home. And depressing.

And makes you a little grateful for your own opportunities and blessings and a little more tolerant and appreciative too.

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.”