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“I’m Jack from the Board of Tourism!”

“I’M JACK FROM THE BOARD OF TOURISM!”

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 9, 2018, in Western Outdoor News

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“I wish I had a pencil thin mustache

The Boston Blackie kind

A two-tone Ricky Ricardo jacket

And an autograph picture of Andy Devine”

 

  • “Pencil-Thin Mustache” by Jimmy Buffett

 

 

Everyone has known a guy that was just so smooth…so likeable…and such a charmer that the ladies would fall all over him.  Call it charisma.  Call it magnetism.  Call it allure or “pizzaz.”

 

I called him Jack.

 

His full name was Jacobo Santa Maria Peralto Villalobos.  He shortened it to “Jack Velez.”

 

Jack was the Ricky Ricardo of La Paz in his day.  I met him when he was already in his late 60’s more than 20 years ago.

 

If you ever see the old black and white movies of the Latin Lover…that was Jack.  And yes…he had a pencil thin mustache.  It was perfect.  So was his perfectly slicked back black hair.

 

He came from a quieter  time and place.  Women wore dresses and men in straw fedoras or Havana hats strolled in white linen jackets, pleated pants and cream-colored wing-tip loafers along the La Paz waterfront.

 

Cigarettes were held elegantly in long cigarette holders.  Men sipped scotch or tequila…a splash of water and one ice cube por favor…and a fragrant Cuban cigar was always on hand.

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Ceiling fans vied with the breeze off the Sea of Cortez to keep folks cool in these seaside cafes.   The music of the mariachi mixed easily with the popular gringo tunes by Sinatra, Andy Williams or Perry Como.

 

With a twinkling eye; a quick and witty sense of humor; a cocked eyebrow and a great laugh, Jack was the prince of the Malecon waterfront back then.

 

John Wayne…Bing Crosby…Fred Astaire…Liz Taylor…even a younger Queen Elizabeth visited in those halcyon days.

 

Jack’s background was ideal.

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Jack’s Aunt was famous actress Lupe Velez (“The Mexican Spitfire”) from the golden age of Hollywood.  She had romances with Clark Gable, Gary Cooper ,Tom Mix and Charlie Chaplin.  She had a chauffer who wore jodhpurs and she even has a star on Hollywood Boulevard.

 

Into this environment a young Jack was sent from Mexico to live with her for learn English and the “American way.”  He excelled as a car-salesman to the stars.  Working his “schtick, “ it’s where he really honed his personality and his “A” game was born.

 

He had the “IT” factor going on.   He brought all that personality back to La Paz as a young man.

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His father was the famous “Smiling Rudy Velez” and he  had been the first charter boat operator in La Paz and based in the elegant old Hotel Los Cocos. His brothers all worked the boats.

 

Not Jack.

 

Jack was the barker and and PR guy working the waterfront.

 

For Jack it was a playground and target-rich environment.  As a harker, showman and tour guide, Jack did anything or everything before there was such a thing as a concierge.

 

Always laughing, he was everyone’s favorite.

 

Oh yes…he was an operator and hustler.  He could “procure” anything from the best dining table in the house to a romantic cruise out to the island…or a set of tires.  Si, Senor!

 

“I am a Mexi-CAN! Not a Mexi-CAN’T” he would proclaim and shake your hand.

 

 

My favorite story of him was how he used to romance single girls visiting the city. Jack was slick.

 

Back in the days when cruise ships would dock on the waterfront, he would pay other vendors to report when a single pretty senorita arrived in the crowd and where she might be staying.

 

He would then show up at her hotel room. Dressed in his white suit with a batch of roses, he would politely knock on the door and say with a flair, “Excuse me Senorita, I am Jack from the Board of Tourism.  These flowers are to welcome you to La Paz!”  Hehehehe…

 

Who doesn’t like flowers?

 

He would then offer services like dinner…tours… beach swims…fishing…of course, all with him as the “representative of the La Paz Board of Tourism!

 

And, the ladies would all tumble!

 

And, like Ricky Ricardo, he could also sing, play guitar and congas and would serenade the senoritas under their hotel balconies and had a reportoir of many crooning Spanish romanticas.   He once even climbed the vines outside a room to the balcony of one senorita to impress her.

 

“When I climbed the balcony, I announced ‘Have no fear, Jack is here!”

 

“Later I fell in the pool as I was trying to sneak out early in the morning when the vine broke.  I was borracho from champagne she bought for me!”

 

 

One of his “trucos (tricks)” he told me was to buy several dozen roses very inexpensively then get dressed up again for the evening.  He would then go to one of the elegant late-night dance lounges in the city and give every lady a rose.

 

“Most smiled gratefully and thanked me. Even with their date or husband there.”  He paused and winked.

 

“But there were always two or three or more that would invite me to their table for dancing, martinis and I would charm all of them!” He would roar with laughter.

 

“I was really good too because I could rhumba and cha-cha and tango! Oh my god, I got so many marriage proposals and they always wanted to take me to the states.”

 

“I always told them (again winking at me conspiritorily and looking around to see if anyone was listening)…

 

… that my job with the Board of Tourism was too important to the city and I could not leave…just yet!”

 

He laughed aloud again and playfully punched me in the shoulder.

 

“And then another cruise ship would arrive…”

 

“That was me, Mr. Tourism!”

 

That’s my story!

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Jonathan

 

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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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

Or drop by the restaurant to say hi.  It’s right on the La Paz waterfront!

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Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

Mexico Office: Tailhunter International, 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico
U.S. Mailing Address:  Tailhunter International, 8030 La Mesa Blvd. #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Phones:
from USA : 626-638-3383
from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863
.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:  http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBLvdHL_p4-OAu3HfiVzW0g


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

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