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BAJA SMORGASBORD

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SIX DIFFERENT GOOD-EATING SPECIES ON ONE DAY and OTHERS RELEASED! (Pargo mulatto…red snapper…yellowfin tuna…yellowtail…cabrilla…white bonito)

BAJA SMORGASBORD

Originally Published the Week of April 24 in Western Outdoor Publications

I was on the beach a few days ago waiting for our fishing fleet pangas to come back that afternoon.  I could see them slowly making their way towards me maybe 10 or so minutes out.

 

I had my toes scrunched in that fine warm Baja sand, having kicked off my flip-flops and my drivers and fish cleaners were all waiting to see what showed up.

 

Dang, that sun felt warm on my shoulders.  Not too hot. No humidity.  Just a slight off-shore breeze.  My legs sure need some color.  Too many days in long pants.

 

Just one of those awesome spring days in Mexico.

 

I think spring-time is my favorite time to be here.  It’s the “tweener” time between the end of March and the beginning of June.  It’s not quite winter.  Not quite summer.

 

It’s always sunny.  Temps in the low to mid-80’s.  Nights, you still use a blanket.  Good to have a sweatshirt or light windbreaker in the morning for fishing.  It comes off quick enough!

 

There can still be some strong bouts of wind, current and swells as winter doesn’t always slide out easily.  But, much of the time, it’s just something I call “non-weather,”  It’s so pleasant you don’t even think about it.

 

Conversations don’t center around how hot or cold it is. No one talks about how cloudy or rainy it will be.  You just know the sun is up and then it goes down and in between, it’s mighty pleasant.

 

After Easter and before the summer vacation, it’s also a slower easy time.  The big summer crowds aren’t here yet.  A lot of visitors are refugees from wherever they spend their colder wet winters like Canada, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. If even for just a few days.  Or so it seems.  I can’t blame them.

 

When they arrive, they tell me about snow on the ground or not having seen the sun “back home” for several weeks.  They just want to see the big warm yellow “orb” in the sky.  They often don’t even care if the fish are biting or what’s biting!

 

And that’s one of the really special things about fishing during this time.  I thought about that as I continued to revel in the warm sun on my back waiting for the boats.

 

You honestly just don’t know what you’re going to catch.

 

There’s a lot of anglers who will argue that the hotter warmer months are their favorites.  That’s when the “glamor” fish like tuna, wahoo, billfish and dorado are centerstage.  And rightly so.

 

But during the springtime, there seems to be a lot of variety.

 

The cooler water fish are still around like yellowtail, amberjack, several varieties of pargo and snapper . You can find cabrilla as well as triggerfish and sierra.

 

There are some fish much more specific to this spring-time bite like roosterfish, pompano and palometta  as well.

 

Additonally, as the waters warm or you find the patches of warmer currents, you’ll also get shots at the aforementioned bluewater species like the sailfish, marlin, yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dorado.

 

Then, there are always the seemingly ever-present fish like bonito, jack crevalle, bullet tuna and others.

 

I’ve had our fleet come back with as many as a dozen species in a single day scattered among the various boats.  You might not catch a lot of any one species, but you might get some of these…two of those…3 of these and another of that!

 

And the next day might be completely different.  Even two boats next to each other might have completely different catches.

 

Several years ago, I had one Outdoor TV crew that wanted to see how many different species they could catch in a single day.  By the end, we tallied 16 different species of fish!

 

By the same token, anglers can return to a “hot spot” from the day before and find completely different fish have taken over the area the next day.  Or what was biting one day has completely changed depending on conditions.

 

This offers some incredible challenges to anglers.

 

It’s a super time to check off some fish on the bucket list, but also presents new twists on fishing.  Does one use light tackle or heavy tackle?  Spinning gear of conventional gear?  Maybe a flyrod if the winds are down?

 

Are you fishing the warmer water where conditions are blue and clear or will you be fishing the cloudier colder waters?  What about depths?  With both warm and colder waters mixing it up, there will be different temperature thermoclines holding different layers of fish.  Should you use weights? Jigs? Plastics?  Will the fishing be offshore or closer to shore?

 

Or geographically, where are you fishing?  The Pacific side of Baja or the Sea of Cortez?  Also what’s happening in Cabo San Lucas is probably way different than what’s biting in Mulege or San Quintin!

 

Many times during the year when fishing Baja you can get away with one or two rigs and be good for 90% of the targeted species.  But during the spring, you just never know.

 

It does make for some interesting decision making and trips to the tackle store.  Next time, consider a trip in the spring.  It’s a pretty fine time.

 

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________ 

 

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:

“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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STAY FOR DINNER! SPANISH FOOD ON THE MENU!

 

Stay for Dinner!  We Have Spanish Food on the Menu! 

Originally Published the Week of April 10, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

A couple of columns back I had written about some history I found in an old book detailing the issues the Spanish had in colonizing the area around La Paz where we live.  Getting the especially belligerent tribes to submit took more than a century longer than other areas of Baja.

 

In that particular report, I had written how the tribesman had “gifted” the Spanish loaves of papaya bread.  It was nothing  like your Aunt Mary gives you for Christmas.

 

The papaya was made from crushed papaya seeds AFTER the tribes had eaten the seeds;  digested them; gathered up the droppings;  THEN baked them up for the conquistadores and padres.  Initially the naïve colonists accepted and ate them with glee.

 

Well…then, the masters found out!  Gag!  Choke! Spit!

 

Remember those Cub Scout cupcake sales as a kid?  Ex-laxing those confections?

 

Well…Whether it was a genuine gift or simply the Indians pranking the Spaniards we’ll never know.  The Europeans’ taste buds and culinary sensibilities were not amused in the slightest.  They retaliated with violence against those dastardly locals.  Complete buzz kill.

 

Recently, I again found myself pouring over some old Baja books in my collection.  One was copy of  the book written by my venerable predecessor at Western Outdoor News, Ray Cannon.  You never know when a gem might pop up.

 

His 1966 book published by Sunset entitled “The Sea of Cortez” is required reading for any Baja aficionado.  If you can get your hands on a copy it’s what Genesis is to the Bible for Baja fans.

 

Just looking at the black and white photos will give you a sense of what Baja was before it was really discovered.  Indeed, many a Baja fan got their fires first kindled reading Ray Cannon’s book as well as his historic columns in Western Outdoor News.

 

Regretfully, I ashamedly have never read the entire edition, but I keep it handy in my library and it’s one of those books I pull down from time-to-time and always find a treasure.

 

Like my previous article  food comes into focus.  But, in a different way this time.

 

One of Ray’s chapters is about the Midriff Islands appropriately located about half-way down the Sea of Cortez.  It’s the narrowest part of the Sea and “Midriff” somewhat describes how the ocean is pinched like a woman’s waist in that area.  The Midriff Islands somewhat form irregular stepping stones between the Baja Peninsula and the mainland of Mexico.

 

On the far eastern edge lies the large island of Tiburon aka “Shark Island.”  It sounds like the name of another reality show.  It’s the largest island in the Sea of Cortez and encapsulates about 450 square miles.

 

Cannon described his earliest visit to the island then inhabited by the nomadic Seri Indians.  They put to shore in a small skiff off their larger vessel. Cannon remembers as they neared shore about a dozen fierce men and women ran out to meet them.  The were brandishing “deadly looking shark spears.”  Ray and his companions quickly reversed course and paddled back.

 

It was later he was told by his Mexican crew why they did not want to accompany Cannon to visit the island.

 

Apparently, people had been disappearing on mysterious “Shark Island” for centuries.   And “not just into thin air” as Cannon recounted.  They disappeared into the soup pot.  Or staked to the barbecue.

 

This included sailors, explorers, gold miners and others.  Never heard from again although bits of pieces of people had been recovered over the years.

 

The Seri Indians never admitted it.  Who me?  Nah!  Must be some other guys.  Would never do that!  Never saw the gringos you’re looking for.

 

But…The Spanish explorers had kept logs of it.  Dating back to the Spanish days, shipwrecked sailors had washed up and found refuge on Tiburon’s rocky shores.

 

The forlorn sailors were grateful to be taken in kindly by the Seri inhabitants.  They were treated and fed well.  Like one of the family. They got fat and sassy.  Living the dream on an island!

 

Until it came time for the big fiesta and finding out the Seri tribespeople were really into Spanish food.  In fact, Spanish dishes were the main course.

 

Over the years, more mysterious “disappearances” fed the stories.

 

History reports that up until the late 50’s the Mexican government allowed the Seri to remain on Tuburon Island. By this time, the tribe, once estimated as large as 5,000 had been reduced to a handful by the usual culprits.   Most notably, they fell victim to European disease.

 

The government had one caveat.  No more cannibalism.   Change your diet! Find a different source of protein.

 

Then some Mexican fishermen went missing.

 

This caused the government to ship the whole tribe of several hundred to the Mainland.

 

Today, the Tiburon Island is operated as a wildlife refuge and very few Seri remain where they are known for artistic basket weaving and those dark ironwood sculptures.

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________ 

 

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:

“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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Tell Them Bring the Salad Next Time!

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PEACE OFFERING or DID THE SPANISH GET PUNKED?

NEXT TIME TELL THEM TO BRING THE SALAD INSTEAD!

Originally Published the Week of March 14, 2018 in Western Outdoor News

I’m a fan of history and enjoy finding little obscure bits of historical trivia.  I recently came across a story about our own city of La Paz where we live.

 

If you ever have a chance to visit the city,  I hope you get  the opportunity to visit the city cathedral in the town square.  It’s not a big city.  The cathedral is not hard to find.

 

 

The first thing that will strike you is that it sure doesn’t look like your typical Spanish-style mission so common up-and-down the Baja and into California.

 

It is strikingly absent of the long sepia-colored arched breezeways and adobe walls usually associated with mission architecture.  On the contrary, the La Paz cathedral is kind of square and blocky-looking.

 

It has two atypical  massive bell towers that look more fortress-like than other mission churches.  Heavy stone blocks and concrete masonry have been described as “sober neo-classical” in design.  It doesn’t sound too exciting, but nonetheless, it’s a big church!

 

Indeed, it looks different because it is.

 

Most other missions were constructed by Spanish Jesuit missionaries and conquistadores in the 1600’s and 1700 hundreds.  La Paz didn’t complete it’s house of worship until the latter part of the 1800’s.

 

According to the history, when the Spanish first arrived, they didn’t come as benevolent emissaries of church and crown.  Actually, they showed up as violent buttheads and took a heavy brutal hand to the local indigenous population.  They had no problem applying armor, cannons and musket to get their point across.

 

The locals didn’t take kindly to it and battled back.  And won.  Booted the Spanish right out.

 

This happened again and again.  Something between 5 and 8 incursions by the Spanish were made in La Paz to set up a colony.  In each case, the locals either whupped up on the padres and their military escorts or simply made it difficult to for the Spanish colonists to sustain the outpost.

 

The natives would cut off water; damage crops; and made it impossible for supply trains and ships to replenish and re-inforce the beleaguered  colonists. Life in the New World was hard  and brutal enough let alone being harassed by belligerent tribes.

 

So, the Spanish would pack up and sail away.

 

At least until the next intrepid group of helmet-headed imperialists showed up.

 

According to the story, during one of these attempts, the Spanish thought they were making some headway with the locals.  Rather than attack, the tribesmen presented the Spanish with many loaves of native papaya bread.

 

A welcome gift and gesture indeed!  The Spanish were thrilled with this apparently peaceful overture.  So, thrilled that they decided to have a fiesta to celebrate the wondrous gift of the delicious bread. A bit like the colonists at the first Thankgiving.

 

It was during this fiesta that the Spanish found out that the natives had a special method to making their bread.

 

The natives loved papaya and would consume the entire fruit wasting nothing.  This included the skin, meat and seeds.  It was their traditional way.

 

So far so good.  The key words are “wasting nothing.”

 

The most interesting part was that the tribespeople would then gather up the “previously digested seeds.”  Use your imagination.

 

The seeds ground into the flour used to make this special “Baja Bread” …wasting nothing!

 

Upon hearing this, the Spanish pretty much choked and gagged in” mid-chew” thinking about the origins of their yummy bread.

 

They were mad. Fighting mad at what they perceived was a cruel and sinister joke.  No one was laughing.  The Spaniards thought they got punked big time.  Talk about a “party fail!”

 

And once again, hostilities broke out.  The Spanish had no sense of humor and much blood was spilled over breaking bread.

 

A peace offering misunderstood and gone awry?  Or a dastardly prank pulled on the Spanish masters and padres?

 

We will never know.

 

But the natives again rose up and pummeled the Spanish back to the mother country.

 

I love history.

 

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________ 

 

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:

“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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FOR BETTER OR WORSE

Tony Reyes

FOR BETTER OR WORSE

Originally Published the Week of Feb. 1, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

We’re on the road doing our fishing/ hunting show circuit these days.  We just finished shows in Denver and Sacramento and, as I write this, my loptop is bouncing on my lap as we rumble down up the highway towards our next show in Seattle.

 

God bless her.  Jilly is driving our rig through the rain so I can tap away on the computer and make my deadline!

 

We’ve been at this now over 2 decades and I field a lot of questions at these shows while we meet-and-greet in  our booth.  At the last show, I got into a little round-robin with some old-timers and Baja rats.

 

A lot of the “opinions” started with…

 

“Back in the day…”

“I remember this time when…”

“You should have seen…”

“You would not have believed what we saw…”

 

Most were of the opinion that Baja fishing is not what it used to be or that it’s been ruined.  Most of these guys were fishermen that used to come down a lot and had great memories and stories of “the way it used to be.”  Most of them don’t come down much or at all these days.

 

Either their travel days were behind them or they just didn’t think it was worth it anymore.

 

Some incredible stories to listen to.

 

I had to agree with them…somewhat.

 

The days of Ray Cannon and John Steinbeck are long gone.  I’ll agree with that.  It’s not the same “frontera” of crystal waters, dirt roads and remote fishing villages.  But what is the same these days?   Everything changes.  Some for better.  Some for worse.

 

I’ve seen a lot of changes in my own time.  My first Baja experiences took place 40 years ago.  I’ve been running a fishing operation almost 25 years.  I think I have a pretty unique perspective.

 

I’m not a visitor or a tourist.  I don’t come fishing for 3 days a year every other year during the summer.

 

I’m at ground zero every single day.  I don’t get my reports reading the internet or fishing magazines.  My hands smell fishy every day and it’s my reports that others read!

 

So, yes, I do remember the days when there were so many dorado and the roosterfish were thick.  I remember those halcyon days of catching a dozen marlin before breakfast.

 

I remember having to siphon gas into the outboard very morning with my mouth before fishing.   I remember chasing burros off the dusty airstrip so the plane could land. I remember commercial flights for $69 and how pissed I was when it was raised to $89!  Robbery!!!

 

I remember days when ice was a luxury and gasoline was hand-pumped out’ve 55-gallon drums and filtered through a t-shirt.  And the gas was green!  Toilet paper and fan belt hoses were equally valuable if you were travelling.

 

And, I’ve straddled the “new age” when convenience stores dot the highway.  Any hotel without a foo-foo day spa isn’t worth staying it.  Cruisers with more electronics than a moon shuttle ply the ocean.  Fishermen travel with nannies and instead of Volkswagen mini-vans, Hummers and Mercedes now pull up next to me at traffic signals.

 

And then there’s the fishing.

 

I don’t think it’s bad.  It’s just different.  And it’s still spectacular.  And there’s no place else like it in the world.  This giant finger called the Sea of Cortez is still a big giant fish trap ripe for exploration and discovery.

 

What I tell folks is it’s all cyclical.

 

If you based your fishing opinons on fishing only occasionally or fishng  the last few seasons, it was honestly very very scratchy.  Those were El Nino years.  Atmospheric and meteorological phenomenon subjected the Baja to crazy ocean temperatures; tides; currents; and anamolies.   It surely affected the fishing.

 

If you just used that as your criterion, then Baja fishing was in the dumpster.

 

But, like so many things on the planet, it’s all part of a cycle.  El Nino wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last.   Mother Earth has been doing this long before T-Rex trod the dirt and will continue doing it long after you and I are gone.

 

But, during those same years, areas in northern Baja and S.California experienced and continue to experience some of the best tuna, wahoo, dorado catches in decades.  It’s still going on in record numbers.

 

Eventually, it will also end…and something new will start.  Right?

 

Last year, down in Baja, water conditions were more normalized.  El Nino went it’s way.  The bait came back.  The water temperatures were more conducive to the deep-water nutrients returning to the waters.

 

And sure enough, last year was a largely great year for much of Baja.  Fish were bigger and more plentiful.  Tuna, wahoo and giant roosterfish came on strong. Billfish moved back in.  It wasn’t like the “old old days” but by golly, it was like the “good new days.”

 

The other side of the equation is that I think fishermen and locals alike are taking better care of the ocean than they used to.   There’s a stronger awareness that this is a finite resource.

 

Seawatch groups have sprung up to monitor illegal poaching and activities.  Marine parks have flourished.  There are restricted areas where fishing is prohibited to allow species to proliferate.  There’s much more catch-and-release by sportsmen as well as locals.  Efforts are being made to keep and maintain the pristine nature of the ocean.

 

 

It’s a constant vigilance and awareness and there’s still so much to be done and there’s still a lot of bad stuff going on.  There’s a constant battle with legal and illegal commercial fishing and the political/ economic battles in a country that struggles to feed it’s people.

 

There’s the push-pull of development and the ecology.  There’s still pollution.  Just like every other country.

 

I don’t have my head in the sand and I’m not saying this because it’s my business bringing fishermen down.   Battles are being won and lost every day.  There’s some incredible problems to be faced.

 

But, overall, fishing in the Baja is still a place unlike any other.  There are more species than anywhere else.  You can still catch your dream fish and you can bend a rod until your arms are sore.  There’s still so much to see and discover.

 

I’ve seen a lot in my time here in Baja.  And there’s still not a day on the water that I’m amazed.  And blessed.

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International
 
TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor
TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR Top 5 – Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor
 
Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO
 

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: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

“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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SCROOGED at the BORDER

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Whether coming or going there’s always an uneasy feeling when your car gets searched, but going INTO Mexico, especially during the holidays has some potential pitfalls!

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Customs at the airport . The dreaded “red light/ green light.”  If you press the button and it comes up green, you continue on . Get the red light and you get your luggage searched. 

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Why are you travelling with so many NEW shoes?  You say it’s a donation to a church?  Or are they really to re-sell? Hmmmmm..

SCROOGED AT THE BORDER

Originally Published the Week of December 17, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

Not that it’s been easy at the border sometimes, but given it’s the Christmas season, it’s getting a little “grinchy” lately.  There’s a lot of holiday traffic coming and going through the crossings.  Same at the airports.

 

Not only are many folks going back-and-forth visiting, but both ways, there’s a lot of shopping going on.  Baja folks shopping in Southern California and Arizona.  Folks in those states are likewise making shopping forays into Baja and northern Mexico as well.

 

If you’ve ever walked or driven across the border into Mexico this time of year, you can see all the bundles of toys and electronics that folks bring back home, especially for the holidays.   Likewise, if you’ve flown into Mexico from the states, you’ve witnessed the same things.

 

Everyone’s got their bundles of joy.  Expect longer slower lines.  It’s just part of it. Folks carrying Iron Man action figures and remote-control trucks over the border.  Folks with bulging bags from “Toys-R-Us” trying to get stuffed into the overhead on the plane.

 

However, there are many folks coming into Mexico landspace that routinely bring good cheer to a higher level.  They bring bags, suitcases, boxes…even truckloads of new and used donations; toys; clothes; shoes; medical supplies, building supplies, educational materials and more.

 

Community groups, church groups, social organizations, fraternal lodges and many many individuals with generous hearts safari into Mexico from all parts.  Their largesse is welcome and needed.

 

However, with increasing incidence, it’s getting more difficult to simply transport donations south.  It’s even more difficult during the holidays.

 

With all of the goods coming across from laptops-to-toys and shoes-to-jackets, the border inspectors have been coming down harder on searching through bags whether at the airport or at the country lines.

 

It’s one thing if you have a new X-Box and have a sales receipt to show them.

 

It’s a different issue if you’re transporting 3 dozen pair of Nike shoes; 2 dozen jackets; two laptops and 3 dozen pairs of Levis.

 

You tell the  inspector they’re donations for an orphanage.  You tell him they were all purchased by your church “back home.”

 

First thing he’s gonna wanna see is if you declared these things for customs to see if you paid the import on them.  Or, if they are even subject to customs.  Do you have a real sales receipt?

 

Where’s the orphanage?  Do you have papers from them?  What Church group are you from?  Are you alone?

 

A lot of folks are legit.  Just doing the good thing.  But, it’s never easy being questioned and it puts a crimp on the good Samaritan attitudes.

 

But, from the inspector’s point-of-view, his job is to check for contraband and lawful import duties and taxes.  It is just as likely you have all these things because you’re going to re-sell them once you get across the border into Mexico.   You wouldn’t be the first.

 

As one inspector told me, “Lots of people lie on their customs forms.”

 

Say it ain’t so!  People don’t tell the truth to the customs agents? Really?

 

So, good people are getting stopped.

 

Before you bring it, know the importation and customs laws.  Bring receipts with you.  It sure helps to have paperwork from the charity you’re delivering to and/or the organization you’re representing, if any.

 

In the half-dozen cases I’ve encountered, they involved individuals or an individual who routinely drove or flew donations down to Mexico.  Never had problems.  Until recently.

 

They all got searched unexpectedly.  And the search was thorough.

 

The majority of them had paperwork and were not required to pay duties.  They were ultimately politely waved through.

 

Two of the others had to pay small duties on the new items they had in their truck (t-shirts and school supplies).  They were able to demonstrate that their other items were used clothing.

 

One officer recognized the name of the orphanage in Ensenada and finally waived them through without penalties.

 

It was still a hassle.  No one blamed the inspectors who were all professional and polite and had a job to do.

 

But all of them said they would make sure to have better documentation with them next time to alleviate and expedite the process.

 

So, God bless you if you’re bringing down donations during the holidays or for that matter, anytime of the year.

 

A little foresight and preparation helps!  That goes for bringing gifts to friends in Mexico as well.  Don’t forget your receipts!

 

Speaking of “inspections” that dreaded “red light/ green light” at the airport customs counter in airports is getting 86’ed.

 

If you’re not familiar, after you get your luggage, you must pass through a customs inspection.  You press a button.  If you get the green light, you get to go out.

 

If you get the dreaded red light, they’re gonna open your bags and riffle through your underwear, fishing gear , toothbrush and iPad.

 

It was like playing airport lottery when you press the button.  Personally, I always try to get behind someone who just got the red light.  The red light rarely comes on twice in a row!

 

No one likes to have their bags opened.  But, Mexico is apparently going completely with x-ray machines now.

 

Orale y Feliz Navidad a todos! Que Dios les bendiga!  Merry Christmas and God bless!

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International
 
TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor
TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR Top 5 – Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor
 
Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO
 

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: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

“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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You Can’t Go To the Buffet Dressed Like That!

active-senior-vacation

YOU CAN’T GO TO THE BUFFET DRESSED LIKE THAT!

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 25, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

I’ve gone through several stages in life where I thought that I had “come of age” or had “finally arrived.”  Maybe that’s happened to you.

 

In high school, I thought it was when I went to the prom with the homecoming queen.  A year later, it was the head cheerleader.  In college, I thought it was when I bought my first car.

 

Even later, I had finally arrived when a law firm hired me and I had my own secretary and a view of downtown Los Angeles from the 28th floor.  Living large!

 

But looking back now, I realize my milestone took place when I was on vacation with my dad many years later.  I was in my 30’s

 

He turned to me and said a bit sheepishly,

 

“Hey, Jon, can you spot me 200 bucks?  I didn’t bring enough money.”

 

A pause.  A little smirk on my face.  A cocked eyebrow.

 

“Whaddya mean, you didn’t bring enough money?”

 

“Well, y’know how it goes.”

 

He smiled innocently and shrugged.  Then he said the following three words…

 

“Payback is hell.”

 

And he just smiled a S-eating grin.

 

And that was the moment.  I point to that as my life-changing moment.

 

And in a nano-second, I flashed on all the times dad had “spotted me.”

 

Countless.  Priceless. What any dad does for his kid with a hand-out asking for a dime or quarter…and later in life for so much more.

 

Quarters and dimes for the arcade and those mechanical horses in front of the supermarket.  All the “loans” for junk and things I “desperately” needed growing up.

 

All the myriad of  times he fished into his pocket for some change or a few bucks or reluctantly pulled out his checkbook.  Or mom’s checkbook.

 

And now here we are on vacation together and he’s asking me to float him some cash.

 

“Sure dad.  Don’t spend it on anything foolish,” I joked.

 

We both grin. I’ve arrived.  How can I say no? He knows it.  He knows it’s OK to ask.

 

And life will never be the same…in a good way.

 

Dad’s not always going to pick up the dinner tab or “forgive” loans anymore.  I’ll be paying my own way… or for him now.  And that’s OK!  I’ve truly arrived.

 

And the roles have reversed.  I’m happy and proud to be able to spot him some bucks and secretly inside tickled as hell.  Payback isn’t hell.  Not being able to accommodate him would have been hell.

 

My dad forgot to bring enough cash?   Really?

 

I’ve written numerous articles about taking the family or kids out on vacation.  But what about taking your parents out on vacation?  Easier?  Harder?  Survivable?

 

In some ways, especially as they grow older, it’s a bit like having your kids with you.  You can’t just run off and leave them alone.

 

But, it’s not like you can leave them at hotel day-care either.  You can’t give mom and dad some buckets and a shovel and say, “Make some sandcastles” while you read a book.

 

You gotta keep a respectful eye on them.  They’re adults, not kids.  They’re your parents.  You can’t lead ‘em around like kids.

 

It’s more like you’re their wingman.  You have to be there.  But NOT be there at the same time.  It can be trying.  And frustrating.

 

They’re gonna forget stuff.

 

Like money.  Like credit cards.  Room keys.  Fishing licenses and passports.  Most importantly their medications!  Don’t let them forget or slack on their meds.

 

In fact, make it a point to bring extra meds for them in case they lose some; luggage gets misplaced or you’re delayed for a few days.  You don’t want to have to look for prescription medications in a foreign country.

 

By the same token, without saying so, they’re depending on you to not just watch OVER them.  You have to WATCH them.  There’s a difference.

 

Are they getting too tired?  Overheated?  Too much sun?

 

They may tell you stories about the time “back in the day” when they caught 100 zillion tuna in an hour or hike 20 miles, but now one fish in the hot blazing sun might be their limit.  A walk to the pool and back might be enough.

 

Be gracious.  No one likes being confronted with their frailties or mortality.

If you’re all doing an activity, make it “age appropriate.”  Just like your kids.  You might be into zip-lining and body surfing.  Your 80-year old parents, maybe not so much.

 

The biggest thing we encounter here is adult children not watching their parents to keep them hydrated.   Beers are fine, but water is essential.

 

They’re not going to be able to keep up with the youngsters and we’ve sent several seniors to the hospital over the years for dehydration and heat exhaustion.  Simply not drinking enough water.

 

Especially with seniors, once you get behind the 8-ball on hydration, the consequences can be very very serious.  Even critical.

040909+oldsex

 

And then, there are the awkward moments that will test your patience.  Just like when you were a kid.

 

“Where’s your jacket?  You have to take a jacket because you might catch a cold!

 

“You can’t go to dinner dressed in your fishing clothes.”

 

“You only brought one pair of what?”

 

“You lost your what? Where?”

 

“You’re only telling me this now?”

 

“If you’re going to be out past midnight would you please call or leave us a message so we don’t worry.”

 

“You don’t know how to send a text? We bought you that new smart phone!”  

 

Or the really awkward one…

 

“You want to bring your new boyfriend/ girlfriend on the trip with the family?”  And stay in the same room?”

 

Payback is hell.  Grit your teeth and smile.  Enjoy the time.  Some day you can torment your own kids in the circle of life.

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International
 
TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor
TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR Top 5 – Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor
 
Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

 

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: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

“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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BUDDY DO YOU HAVE SOME CHANGE?

 

money exchange

Buddy Do You Have Some Change?

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 10, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

In all the years and all the columns that I’ve written, I don’t know how I could have passed up the subject of money changing.   But, lately, I’ve gotten a number of folks asking so I guess that’s the genesis of this week’s subject.

 

If you’re coming to Mexico, is it a good idea to change dollars to pesos?

 

The answer is yes.

 

Using the “coin of the realm” is always a good idea, but especially now.  With the dollar-to-peso exchange rate at 16 to 18 pesos to the dollar, you stretch your purchasing power by having a pocketful of pesos.

 

There’s more “bang for the buck” as you wander around buying t-shirts for the kids; a sombrero that will end up in a garage sale; and another round of tequila against your better judgment.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  U.S. dollars are really welcome down here and we love having you spend them, but pesos are just handy to have.

 

With pesos in hand, if you see the shrimp dinner costing 150 pesos, you don’t have to do the mental gymnastics to figure how to convert to dollars.   It’s sure easier to figure out the 10% tip too.  It’s also easy math  to calculate if you received the correct amount of change.

 

Additionally, many local business, charge a little more for taking dollars.  We accept them as a “convenience” for visitors like you, but it actually costs us to accept those dollars.  So, there might be a small “visitor tax.”

 

Let me explain.

 

In order to deposit our earnings into the Mexican bank we have to convert them to pesos.  There’s a bank transaction fee attached so Mexican businesses lose some money by doing that.

 

Additionally  some Mexican banks only allow a certain amount of dollars to be deposited by the week or month. If you have more than that, you have to hold onto it and sit on it.

 

For a business, money sitting there doing nothing is not doing anyone any good.  Can’t pay bills.  Can’t make payroll.  Can’t purchase inventory with money that has to sit and, at some point, be accounted for.

 

So that begs the larger question for visitors.  Where should I exchange my money?

 

Out-of-hand, I used to  tell folks to change your money at the airport.  You’re already there.  It’s handy.  They have plenty of money. And the rates seemed about right for the market.

 

WRONG!

 

I didn’t realize that those exchange offices at the airport tack on huge “transaction fees” that pretty much erase any real pragmatic reason for using them.  If you have to use them, use them.  But, there’s better places.

 

For one, there’s your bank at home. Start with them.  You know them.  They know you.  You have an account or two with them. They won’t ding you so hard.

 

If you didn’t get it done before you left home and now you’re in-country, the next place I’d hit is the various money exchange houses around town.  In tourist places like Cabo San Lucas or larger cities like Ensenada or Tijuana, you’ll find them all over.

 

Some are just little kiosks.  Others have small offices.

 

But, they’re easy to find.   And they’re competitive.  Not just with the market rates, but against each other.  The want your business.  They want your dollars and are eager to hand you pesos.

 

Also in the larger tourist areas, they’re open all the time.  You suddenly realize you’re out’ve pesos for a late night taco run.  Or, you know that no one will be able to accept or break your $100 bills, you can usually find someone to change your money.

 

If you’re in a smaller community like La Paz, where we live,  or even smaller places, the money exchange houses will be harder to find and their hours will be more limited. But, they’re there.

 

So, try to think ahead.  If you need change after 5 p.m. you might be out’ve luck.  They‘ll be closed.

 

However, secondary and tertiary options can be found.

 

If you’re at a larger hotel, they can often exchange smaller amounts at the front desk.   For example you need to change $40 bucks that’s fine.  If you’re trying to change $500 dollars, not so fine.

 

But it’s subject to them having dinero in the til.  Don’t always count on the reception desk being able to make change or conversions.  But, it’s an option.

 

There are also larger grocery store chains that have “customer service desks” just like back home. They usually have more money on hand and offer pretty good exchange rates.

 

Just be aware that many places do not accept bills over $20 because of fear of counterfeit.  So, bring five $20 bills.  Don’t bring one $100 bill.

 

There are also ATM machines all over.  Personally, I avoid them.  There’s too many opportunities for fraud, especially in ATM’s on street corners or willy-nilly in markets or bars.  If your card gets eaten by the machine, it’s not like you can ask the bartender to get it out for you.

 

If you have to use an ATM, use one at a bank.  That way if there’s an issue, there’s bank personnel who can assist.  The ATM’s will dispense 200 peso notes (about $11).  And you’ll see a transaction fee on your next statement.  But, in a pinch, it’s better than nothing!

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International
 
TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor
TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR Top 5 – Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor
 
Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

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: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

“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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