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Archive for the ‘ecotourism’ Category

YOU’RE NOT HERE TO FISH?

Definitely this is NOT a taco.

YOU’RE NOT HERE TO FISH?

Originally Published the Week of Nov. 15, 2022 in Western Outdoor Publications

Over the years, I’ve watched the complexion of the tourism industry and tourism in general evolve.  It has been an interesting observation.

Being in the tourist industry ourselves, we have a courtside seat to all the comings and goings.

Years ago, it was the fishermen.  No two ways about it. 

Fishing built the tourism industry.  It’s what initially opened up Baja and much of the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

It was the exotic frontier teeming with fish and popularized by those early adventurers and writers who elaborated about deserted hidden beaches; sunshine; waters teaming with boiling fish and a wonderful people.

At first, it wasn’t easy to get to.  But that only increased the allure.

But, as time went on, the tourism gates edged ajar enabling more visitors to make their way down the coast.  The gates have never closed.

It has never stopped being a wonderland to so many. 

At first, mostly the guys came down.  The journey could be long.  The visit often did not accommodate many conveniences like air-conditioning, ice, electricity, gasoline and soft beds or even running water. 

But, again with time, all of these came to pass along with swimming pools, spas, shopping centers, and all the modern accoutrements.

Not co-incidentally, tourism surged again.  Not surprisingly, the mix of families, wives, kids and others increased.  International tourism also burgeoned.

Today, Mexico is one of the hottest vacation destinations in the world.  Not just for Americans but for world-tourism as well.

But, no matter who was arriving off that cruise ship, plane or bus, there was always the underlying attraction of the ocean. 

Whether for fishing; diving; watersports like boating; beaches; real estate; photography…for the most part, the water was a common denominator for a vast majority.

Everyone was attracted by that big blue ocean out there in some way, shape or form. 

Whether to catch the fish of a lifetime; lie on a beach; to go on a booze cruise; to build a house; to watch whales; to get married or honeymoon; to retire;  to surf; build a house…the ocean was always the seductive siren.

 I mean, no advertises empty desert.  Right?  It’s always “ocean view.”

But lately, I’ve noticed a big difference.

People are arriving who have really no interest in the ocean or the proximity of the water.

They’re here for the food.

A “Foodie” invasion.

Not just folks who like to eat.  These are people who are hardcore into what’s on their plates.  They study.  They research.  They take notes and photos.

They post up photos of their meals on all the social media platforms.  “This is what I’m eating tonite!”

They’re not just here to eat a taco from a food cart or have nachos at happy hour.

I’ve often written about the food scene down here in Mexico.  It’s often about stepping outside your comfort zone and trying new things.

But these are whole different class of visitors.

I’ve found myself taking vacation reservations for folks who don’t ask what’s the best time to catch a marlin. 

They don’t really care if that hotel has a spa.  They don’t ask about the water temperature for scuba diving.

But, they do want my opinion about which restaurant has the best chicken mole dish. 

Or they want to know if I had tried the bearnaise sauce they’re making at some new chi-chi restaurant on the waterfront.  Is the restaurant really using an organic goat cream reduction?

Yup!  As if I knew!

gourmet-vs-gourmand-usage-6072-09ae1d24289a50ea6ce3c9e8005a7796@1x

I’ve been asked my opinion about sautee’d bluefin eyeballs or the French pastries some hot-shot chef is getting raves about at a new bakery.

These folks have researched online menus and have check-lists of eateries they intend to visit or certain dishes they specifically plan to try.  

You’ve heard of a “pub crawl.” 

I’ve had folks do things like “only taste test ceviche” at a number of restaurants.  And take notes!  Or only tacos made from triggerfish or baby octopus.

Or they are on a “food tour” to taste the difference in fish preparations between various regions such as eastern Mexico vs. Southern Mexico vs. Baja. 

There’s a big difference in preparations.  Spices and herbs.  Presentations. 

In the same way barbecued ribs might be different in Alabama compared to Minnesota in the U.S.  Or chowder on Boston’s waterfront versus San Francisco’s Fisherman’s wharf.

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Stuff like that.

Food popularity is big business.  Just check out the Food Channels on TV sometime.  There are dozens of cooking shows 24-7 and the hosts are international food rock stars.

Yes, many of our visitors are changing and seeking culinary pursuits these days.

Some are actually chefs themselves.  A few have been cookbook authors.  Some are just gourmet adventurers. 

Some just like to eat and get that same cosmic rush over a bowl of pasta as the folks who come to battle a big fish; or ride a wave; or touch a migrating whale.

To each their own.

With the growth of so many higher-level restaurants in Mexico and Baja, being a “foodie” is a sport.  It’s a hobby.  It’s an obsession. 

Buen provecho! 

That’s my story!  

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.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:

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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FIND YOUR BEACH

FIND YOUR BEACH

Originally Published the Week of Nov. 7, 2022 in Western Outdoor Publications

When I first found myself living down here in the Baja almost 30 years ago, I thought I was in heaven . I was “living the dream” as it were.

In my previous “life” I had gone from a litigation attorney with a pin-striped suit and briefcase running in-and-out of courthouses with a demanding schedule.

I now found myself 10 miles down a dirt road. 

I was working as the fishing guide, divemaster and chef for a little boutique hotel in a little bay.  No more than 10 or 15 persons there at a time.

I lived in a little backpacker tent I had erected on a wooden pallet on the beach.  I ran about a 100-yard extension cord from the main house so I could plug in a little 20-watt lamp.

Water was in a 5-gallon jug filled from a fresh-water well dug up in the arroyo.   I had two pairs of shorts (one for fishing and one for scuba) ; 3 t-shirts and 2 sets of flip-flops for clothes.

I did have an array of fishing gear and dive gear oh, and I adopted a little black dog I found living in the hotel trash dump.

No internet.  No phones.  These were the days before that technology.  Imagine that!

Getting supplies meant bouncing an hour down a dirt road to the nearest town. 

Days were spent fishing or diving in the prettiest bluest clearest waters I’ve ever seen in my life.  When I had no fishing clients, part of my job was to still catch fish for the hotel kitchen.

Crazy…I had a job where it was MY JOB to catch fish fresh fish!  In the freakin’ Sea of Cortez!

Nights were spent cooking in the kitchen mostly, but after that, simply sitting in a beach chair in front of my tent.  Or around the big blazing fire pit we would light for the clients and listening to the guests.

I remember skies with a zillion stars.  You could actually see galaxies.  And shooting stars Or moon-lit nights that were almost as bright as day.

And nothing but the sound of waves lapping the beach.

I touched no money.  I wore no shoes.  Never wrote a check.  Never had to “return a call.” Washed my clothes in a bucket.

It was hard work and often a long day with no days off, but what’s that saying?  “Find what you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Sometimes you just know.

It was a special happy time.  A good time.  I had found my beach.  Just like the popular commercial. 

Fast forward almost 3 decades.  Still in Baja. 

Still doing a lot of the same things.  But now on a much larger stage and scale.

Big city.  Two big fishing fleets.  A restaurant.  Transportation company.  Dozens of clients a day coming-and-going.  No days off.  A big payroll.  All the accoutrements of running two companies in two different countries.

There are meetings and reports.  Articles to write.  Up every morning at 4 a.m.  Inventories, lists, deadlines and so many moving parts every day.

We’ve been successful and blessed beyond deserving.  I have a lovely wife now and hopefully, lots of happy employees and there’s nothing more gratifying than all the smiles we see every day.

Life is good.  Life is grand.

I’ve got miles of beach right in front of me.  I’m looking out the window as I type this.

But, it’s not MY beach.  I’m happy, but it’s not my happy place.  There’s a big difference.

So, this past week, Jill and I drove down another dirt road.  Over an hour from La Paz where we live.  We weren’t supposed to take the rental car “off-road” but hey…don’t ask permission…ask forgiveness. 

We just hoped we didn’t get stuck somewhere.  It almost happened where part of the dirt road had been washed away in the last rains and we almost got stuck in the loose sand and mud of the arroyo.

Our own rattle-trap car would definitely not have made the journey.

But, at the end of this road is a little spot. 

With a few cabanas.  And a kitchen.  And a boat ramp.  And palm trees on a beach that were planted over 100 years ago.  And a little cemetery where the folks who planted those trees now rest tucked against a cliff that rises from the ocean.

There’s a little chapel on a hill. It was built by hand when everything was brought in by boat or hauled over the mountains.

The little pool is fresh sweet water that comes from a mountain spring.  Swimming in it reminds you of bygone summer days and lying on that warm cement as a kid.

Many a time over the years, we’re the only ones there.

No music is played.  No blenders are allowed.  One must dress for dinner.  Nothing elegant. Just basic simple tasty food made by ladies in the kitchen. Some have been there for decades.

The ladies who serve dinner dress in pinafores. It’s like they stepped out’ve a time capsule when life was simpler.

Candles only light the patios and tables.

There’s a formal “cocktail hour.”  As it were. Basically, it just means it’s dark now. Come have a drink before dinner gets served .

You can fish.  Or swim.  Eat or nap.  That’s what there is to do. Did I say nap?

Listen to the ocean or the wind that blows from the mountains.  Watch the sun navigate slowly across the sky and paint the landscape with changing colors.  Watch the moon and stars take it’s place illuminating the night in nocturnal silver.

I”d love to tell you the name of the place and where it is.

But as much as I blab on in my weekly writings, I think I will keep this one to myself.   It feels like MY beach again.  It feel like a place a came to long ago and had forgotten.

It’s good to touch that again. 

Yes, you can come to visit your Cabo and Puerta Vallartas and Cancuns…and do all the tourist things.  Nothing wrong with that.

But, I hope you can also find a little dirt road down to a beach that few people know.  It might not even be on a map.   I hope you find a little something different.  Maybe a little part of yourself too. 

And keep that spot all to yourself and how you got there.  Cheers to finding your beach!

That’s my story!

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.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 Sportfishing

Website: 

www.tailhunter.com

Mexico Office: Tailhunter International, 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 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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HOMETOWN DISADVANTAGE

Just doing their jobs!

HOMETOWN DISADVANTAGE

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 30, 2022 in Western Outdoor Publications

If you’re a sports fan, you know about the term “homefield advantage.” It’s a fairly common term.

It means the home team has an edge.  It means, they know the field of play or know the court better.  They know the crowd and vise versa. 

They know how the ball bounces and calls by referees and penalties seem to favor the locals.  The local team gets the better locker room, etc.

It’s like that in other sports as well.

In fishing, I’d rather fish with a guy who has lived all his life on a certain stretch of river or ocean than a guy who tells me he’s fished all over the world.  There is nothing like local knowledge.

When I was a trial attorney, we hated to do a trial in another city or especially a “hometown” city or small town where everyone knew each other.

We called that “getting homered.”   We knew the odds would already be stacked against us.  

A perfect example was a case my first had against the Disney company in Orlando, Florida.  

Impossible to get a completely impartial jury or judge when everyone in the city either worked for Disney; had family or friends who worked for Disney; or had stock or other business relations with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

It’s just the way it is and you play the cards you’re dealt.

It worked the same way if they came to our town.

That subject came to mind this past week on two separate occasions at our restaurant.  On both occasions, the tourists I was chatting with were complaining about Mexican laws.

One had been pulled over for speeding.

Another had been pulled over for going through a stop sign.

One said, he knew he was going faster than the posted speed limit, but he was “keeping up with the flow of traffic and there were still people speeding faster than me!”

The other admitted he only drove through the stop sign because he saw others driving through the stop sign.

Fortunately, neither of them got tickets which is pretty unusual as police officers tend to ticket tourists most times.  However, it’s still unnerving  anytime a cop stops you.  

It’s natural for anxiety levels to jump when flashing light bars come up behind you with that loud WAH-WAH siren blowing up in your ears. 

Even moreso in Mexico, I imagine.

Neither spoke Spanish, but could garner from the respective police officer that they had gotten stopped for their specific traffic infractions.  The officers did speak a little English and were professional and polite.

Both admitted that when the police officers approached, their brains went into overload wondering about jail, shakedowns, fines; etc.  All the terrible traffic cop stories they had heard.

Gratefully, the officers told them what they had done wrong and basically they received a stern lecture about being safe and a warning to be careful.   One even said, “Enjoy your vacation.”

Breathing collective sighs of relief, they drove on…ever more cautious, but understandably looking over their shoulders through their rear-view mirrors.

I did explain to them that laws are not applied equally.  Yes, there are home-town advantages and tourists (visiting team) should be aware of those inequities.

For one, tourists in rental cars stand out.  No two-ways about it.  You probably have a shiny late model car with no dings or bondo covering old accident damage.

Rental cars are clean. All the tires match.  The rental car has “car rental stickers” on the bumpers or rear hatch…a dead giveaway.

Plus there are the simple nuances of driving down here.

First and foremost follow the posted laws and use common sense about speed.  Use your turn signals.  Observe passing and turn rules, etc.  Basic stuff you learned in driver safety instruction.

But, beyond that, in Mexico just assume everyone else has the right-of-way.  Not kidding. 

It’s the safest thing to do.  No matter who gets to the stop sign or corner first or who is making the left turn assume they will take the shot. 

It’s not rude.  It’s just the way it is. Drive defensively.

By the way, stop signs are “just a suggestion.”  It’s a common joke.  Never assume someone is going to actually stop at a stop sign.

Or a traffic light.  Or, when it turns green, people zoom off the mark.  Let them go!

Usually, whichever vehicle has the most “momentum” has the right of way.  Let them go ahead and don’t get mad.  It’s just the way it is.

All vehicles are supposed to drive on the right lane.  The left lane of a two-lane highway is technically ONLY for passing.  Everyone else stays to the right.

So, pass someone then get back on the right side.  You CAN get a ticket for driving in the left lane without passing.

Open containers…ah yes.  It’s Mexico so it must be OK, right?  Beer drinking is what everyone does. 

No.  No. No.

It’s what lots of locals do.  Openly driving with a beer can in hand or six packs between the legs is common.  Or tossing a can out the window and all the passengers clearly are also enjoying cold ones.  No big deal.

I see it daily as folks drive by our restaurant on the waterfront.  I wave.  They wave back with a big smile.

It does NOT apply to you.  Definitely a big no-no.  Guaranteed to get you pulled over. 

Seatbelts?  What seatbelts?  Missing taillights?  No problem.

Not allowing someone on a crosswalk the right-of-way?  You should have stopped.  Even if everyone else almost runs them over.

Hometown rules.  Just the way it is.

Be careful.  Use common sense and safety first. 

Oh, and if there’s an accident.  No matter what.  It’s always going to be YOUR fault.  So, don ‘t get in an accident.  Best way to buzz-kill your vacation.

In all fairness, the police are not specifically out to target tourists.  In 30 years down here, almost all my interactions with law enforcement have been professional and often cordial if not downright friendly. 

I have gotten the occasional ticket, but I deserved it (went the wrong way on a one-way street and another time drove through a stop sign).  Like law enforcement everywhere, they have a job to do and it’s not an easy one.  

They drive by our restaurant or when we pass on the street, we wave.  They wave.  Often get a smile.  I just never try to give them a reason not to smile back! 

That’s my story!

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.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:

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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TWEENER DAZE

TWEENER DAZE

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 22, 2023 in Western Outdoor Publications

This is my favorite time of year in Baja.  It’s not summer anymore.  It’s not winter and it sorta feels like fall.

I call these the “tweener days.”

They take place  “tween” the Labor Day celebrations and Thanksgiving.  There’s no exact dates, but suddenly it’s like a switch has been thrown.

Or maybe it’s more like a dimmer.  Sometimes it seems to happen overnight.  Sometimes, you realize that after a few days, things have changed.

I think it hits sometime in October. 

The shadows are longer as the sun rises and sets at a different angle. I don’t know what it is, but the colors of the desert and the earth, in general, seem to change with the sun.

The air is cooler.  It’s breezier.  Mornings can be brisk and I find myself reaching for a sweatshirt or my raggedy Pendleton.

The color of the water changes as well. It still retains much of its summer warmth, but there’s a marked difference.  I think it’s just a shade or two darker blue.

Even the air is different.  That oppressive humidity and heat of the summer and early fall have diminished tremendously. 

If there had been some rain earlier, the vegetation across the hills, mountains and lowlands has exploded with life into a huge carpet of green. 

It’s no wonder the air breathes, smells and even “tastes” fresher.  It’s not as dusty or heavy.

Even the folks walking around are different.   

It’s quieter and more tranquil. The hubbub and drone of people moving about is turned down a notch.  The vibe is less hurried.

Kids are back in school. Mexican and tourist families alike.  So fewer families are in evidence. 

Most are focused ahead towards the holidays.  Beaches are less crowded.  The waterfronts are less boisterous.  Getting seated at popular restaurants are easier.

For the airlines, it’s considered off-season.  Fewer folks are in the air so there’s some great deals to be had between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. 

Same for hotels as well.  They need “heads-on-beds” and offer some excellent discounts.

For fishing, it’s different also. It can still be outstanding, especially with fewer fishermen out on the water and less boat traffic on the fishing grounds.

There’s a reason why so many international fishing tournaments take place during this time.

The only drawback I would see is that the waters can be a bit bumpier some days so you might want to keep an eye on the extended forecasts and pick your fishing days accordingly.

Or not!  Just come fishing.  Why not?

My point, get outside the box.  Break away for a quick Mexico run.  It’s a completely different experience.

That’s my story

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.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 Sportfishing

Website:

Mexico Office: Tailhunter International, 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 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.”

Read Full Post »

EAVESDROPPING ON A ‘BRO’ SESSION

EAVESDROPPING ON A “BRO” SESSION

Originally Published the Week of Oct 18, 2022

Sometimes you can’t help but eavesdrop on a conversation.  I know it’s rude and we shouldn’t do it.   However, there are times when you can’t help but be drawn in.

Besides, if the folks are talking loud enough for everyone to hear…gosh…the conversation is out there!

So, I was sitting at one of the tables outside our restaurant here in La Paz.  Besides me was a group of 7 or 8 guys having a cold one after work before going home.

Just like guys everywhere stopping off to decompress a bit.  Dudes.  Bros. 

All local guys.  I knew some of them.  Others not.  But, all nice guys.  Working guys.  Mexican blue collar.

One worked in a hotel as a bellman.  One was a hotel assistant manager. 

From what I could tell, two of them were waiters from different restaurants. One was a shuttle driver.  I think one was a taxi driver and one was a charter captain.

And they were talking about tips and tipping. 

Always an interesting subject since we’re in the hospitality business ourselves with our fishing fleets, restaurant, shuttle company and association with many La Paz hotels.

They were telling stories about tips…mostly bad tips and laughing about it.

Now, I’m not agreeing or disagreeing, but just relating some of the conversation.  Not trying to create controversy about it. 

They were talking about the best and worst tippers.

All agreed that overall, gringos were the best tippers.  Overall.  Some better than others, but overall way above average.

From what I could tell, Californians and people from New York were the best.

Japanese from California were very good.  Chinese often wanted a discount, but in the end tipped well. 

The guy who seemed to work at the reception desk of some hotel said, that when he knows they are Chinese, he offers them a high rate, then discounts it to the rate he was going to give them anyway.

“They just want to know they were getting a deal and they are happy.  My boss is happy.  It’s win-win.”

He also said some folks from “eastern U.S.” were also like that.  They wanted to know they got a “deal.”

They guy who was a charter skipper said it was funny that some of the people who spend all day telling him about their big business or what they own are the worst tippers.

“I hear about all their big houses or all the places they travel to or their fancy cars. All nice and good.  Very interesting.

But at the end of the day we have lots of fish.  I do a good job.  I get a 5-dollar tip!”

“Once I had a guy who was related to the Farrari Family in Italy. Big money.  Fancy fishing clothes.  Nice fishing gear.  His wife was dressed like a fashion model to go fishing.”

“End of the day, he reaches into his pocket and gives me his pocket change.  Coins!  It added up to 40 pesos (2 dollars!).”

Of course, this lead to who are the worst tippers.

They all agreed that Canadians and Europeans are not big tippers.  But, the worst tippers were Mexicans from the United States and local Mexicans.

They actually all raised their glasses to that one .

“Many of the Mexicans from the states like to impress that they speak Spanish and many of them sure have a lot of money.  But they are cheap tippers mostly.  They leave very little or they give you a handful of coins or just a few dollars.”

The fishing captain said they sometime give him a bonito or two and think that’s “my tip” even though it’s junk fish.

The hotel guy said the ladies who clean the hotel rooms say that after several days, they’ll get two dollars left on the dresser.

The taxi and shuttle drivers said they almost never get tipped at all.  Definitely, locals never tip.

All of them agreed that the locals were the very worst.

The waiter said that many of his fellow waiters tried to avoid waiting on the locals. Everyone wants to wait on the gringo tables.

“Of course, we try to always give good service to everyone, but it’s difficult when you know that your service isn’t appreciated.”

He said, “Locals will run up 100 dollars for a meal for a family.  And then they will leave 1 dollar in coins as the tip.” 

“It’s just the way locals are.” said another. “If you have not worked in the service industry, you don’t understand how we all depend on tips.”

“Again, often the wealthiest Mexicans who have the money to eat at restaurants or stay in good hotels are the worst tippers.”

Several of them agreed that they could almost tell where people were from by the way they tipped.  

Overall, most of them said that the bad tips evened-out with the good tips at the end of the day.  But, just disappointing how some people can be such poor tippers or not appreciate their hard work.

That’s my story!

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.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:

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.”

Read Full Post »

FLIRTING WITH DISASATER

UH-OH!

FLIRTING WITH DISASTER

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 10, 2022 in Western Outdoor Publications

Being in the travel and hospitality business down here in Baja, it’s been interesting watching travel trends lately.  We’ve hosted thousands of fishermen, friends and clients over almost 30 years here in La Paz.

I would venture to say 99.9% of them fly from the U.S. on the various airlines that serve this area. 

We all know that 2020 was covid year.  Air travel, or any travel for that matter, was a disaster.

Last year, 2021 was a bit better.  Still lots of folks hesitant to travel.  Many of the travel protocols were still in place.

However, with each passing month, there’s no disputing that an increasing number of folks were starting to get out.  Travel, especially internationally, boomed in direct proportion to the reduction in covid protocols such as masks, testing, vax cards, distancing, etc. 

You remember all those, right?

This year, without a doubt, travel is in full-turbo.  Covid be damned.  Cabin fever and covid fatigue from being cooped up has travel busting at the seams.

Insofar as we own our own shuttle transportation company down here, we’ve got 7 vans running daily between cities and airports.  We’re pretty tuned into the comings-and-goings of airlines and airports.

In all our years doing this, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered so many cancelled flights; delayed flights and lost luggage.  In “normal” years, I would have to deal with an issue maybe only 1 or 2 times a month during out fishing season.

These days, it has become almost a daily occurrence. 

What’s happening?

Well, of course, there are the unavoidable things like bad weather.  It happens.

But, am I the only one or is it happening more often? 

A screen showing cancelled flights as more than 1,400 American airlines have been canceled due to staff shortages and unfavorable weather in Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Hurricanes, tropical storms, unusual snowstorms, tornado warnings…as I write this, I think there are two more storms already brewing in the Caribbean.

Global warming or whatever.  It jacks flights up and everyone understands that it’s something that happens. I doubt any of us wants to be in an airplane anyway in bad weather.

But, what about all the other reasons.

I spoke to a good friend who just retired as a career commercial pilot. 

He told me that during Covid so many airline employees were terminated as a business move.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In hindsight, maybe not so much. 

Now, the airlines are like everyone else.  Can’t find enough workers and staff.  This includes flight attendants, mechanics, maintenance, pilots and more.

It’s not like you can just find trained pilots or mechanics like McDonald’s finds someone to cook French fries.   So, heavy bookings coupled with a lack of crews has had a huge impact.

As well, higher fuel prices have affected air travel just like they have affected our own highway driving.  It costs more to fill those tanks.  Issues with oil producers like Russia and the Middle East have not helped.

Another issue is simple airport logistics.  Too many flights.  Too many people travelling and not enough or out-date airports or airport space. 

My last half-dozen flights, we sat on the tarmac either waiting to take off; waiting for enough crew; or a mechanical issue.  Or, upon landing, no gates available to park the plane.

For us personally, running a tourism-based operation here in Baja, it has often been a nightmare for us let alone our haggard travelers.

Flights getting canceled.  Late planes.  Lost luggage.  Re-routing have become an almost daily occurrence.  It’s become as common as that salty bag of peanuts they now give you on flights.

We’ve pretty much come to almost expect it.  All day, I monitor my e-mails, texts and phone calls expecting to hear that someone missed their flight; or lost their luggage; or are now arriving at midnight.

A couple of tips, especially with holiday travel looming…

Minimize the number of connecting flights.  The fewer changes, the less likely you’ll have a delay or cancelation.  It’s like a chain only being as good as it’s weakest travel link.

If one connecting flight is late, it might mean you miss your next flight.

Minimize your luggage.  Seems obvious.  There’s less to lose.

And give yourself plenty of time.  Airport delays are common at check-in or just to find parking!  Don’t be that person doing the “O.J.” Simpson dash through the airport and being the last person to check in your luggage.

You might make the flight  Your luggage is going to Brazil.

For Pete’s sake, pack medications, and other essential health items in your carry-on.  Or at least enough to get by. 

Several years ago, one of our clients went 3 days before his luggage showed up.  He was not doing well and his skin was turning kinda yellow.  He finally admitted that his colostomy bag was in his lost luggage!

Oh, one other thing.  Make a copy of your passport.  Keep the original with you, but pack a copy somewhere else.  You’ll thank me later.

Lastly, try not to book your flights during the busiest periods of the day.

We all like to depart at a reasonable hour.  We like to arrive at our destinations at a reasonable hour. 

Well, so does everyone else.  It’ll mean the airport is packed.  It will mean planes are packed.  If your plane is late or has an issue, it’s harder to find another flight

When you arrive, the airport will be stuffed as well.  You could be ages getting through customs, immigration and rental car agencies.  That’s another story.  There’s not enough rental cars for everyone that reserves one.

And they can’t give you one until other people return their cars!

It’s a vicious circle.

Minimize the risks so you can have a smooth, safe and easy travel day.

That’s my story

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.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:

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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ANOTHER #@$% BONITO!

BONITO! FUN and EXCITING…UNTIL THEY AREN’T!

ANOTHER #@$% BONITO!

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 28, 2022 in Western Outdoor Publication

If you’ve never caught one, they can be a lot of fun.  These smaller members of the tuna family can pull you out’ve your socks or flip-flops.

Most are only 5-10 pounds, but pound-for-pound, I would argue that no fish pulls harder.  I’ve often told our astonished fishing clients that if they ever make a 25-pound bonito, it’ll destroy us.

Built like little missiles they are speedy and tenacious.  On light tackle or spinning gear, there are few fish in the sportfishing world that can compete.

. . .until you’ve had your fill.

The first few are fun.  Then, there’s a point of diminishing returns. 

Even on matched tackle, they sure can take a lot out’ve you!

After awhile, you realize, they’re not fun anymore.  They’re pests!

You’re getting tired.  These darned things are eating up all your live bait.  You’r really out on the water to be catching real tuna or dorado or something else besides bonito!

You want to get to the main event, not fooling around with these pesky %#$@ bonito!

Because there’s a big drawback about bonito!

With the exception of a few types of bonito, most don’t taste so great. So, we throw them back.  Or, in the old days, they get used for fertilizer in the garden.

But, aside from eating them, there’s some really handy uses for them that I never realized until I moved down here and learned from our fishing captains.

For one, they make excellent bait.

If you can keep them alive and are fortunate enough to be on a boat that has “tuna” tubes to keep fish like this alive, they make super bait for billfish.

Harnessed properly and hooked, they are great to troll.  Big marlin are especially attracted.  If the bonito are small enough they can be cast directly to a billfish.  It’s like tossing candy in front of a 5-year-old.

If still alive, I’ve found it very effective to take a smaller one and pin a big hook in it through the jaw or dorsal and send it back down on a heavy rig with some weight.

Then, I hold on!

Done over a reef or rocky area or high spot, I might cut one of it’s tail fins or put some shallow cuts in it’s flanks.  With the cut tailfin the bonito will swim erratically like the wounded fish that it is.

Darren bonito 6-21 tags

With the scores on it’s flanks, the bonito will bleed a bit and release it’s oily scent into the water.

Big dog-tooth snapper; giant pargo and grouper fall for this all the time.  It’s a deadly rig and you’d better hold on because they don’t “nibble.”

They’ll slam like a powerful freight train and head right back into the rocks. Anything that can eat a 5-pound bonito will surely have a big mouth and the muscle to back it up!

Speaking of bonito blood and oil, the meat is indeed very bloody and oily.  It’s a big muscle with fins.

If the fish is already dead, our captains will sometime cut strips from it and drag them behind our pangas to leave an oily trail in the water.  Sometimes, they’ll just run a rope or heavy cord through the mouth and gills and drag the whole bonito behind the boat.

Dorado especially find this irresistible. 

Keep an eye out because I’ve seen dorado swim right up in the propwash to the transom following that blood trail. Get ready to drop a hooked bait almost right on top of their heads.

Strips of bonito are, in fact, great to use with your lures.  A little strip on a casting lure or iron adds some organic attractant to your presentation.

Likewise, a larger strip hooked onto a feather or larger lure is also a bonus.  Not only will it add scent to the water, but if a big fish grabs it, it’s less likely to let go now that it has some real “meat” in it’s mouth instead of a chunk of plastic or resin!

There’s one other reason I like to keep bonito on board.

Every now and then, you get sealions that become a nuisance.  I’m sure you can relate.

These pests eat your baits. They eat your hooked fish then give you the “middle finger salude” as they throw it into the air right in front of you. Plus, their presence chases away the gamefish.

Back-in-the-day, there were things like seal bombs, wrist rockets and sometimes firearms to take care of the problem.

We can’t do that anymore and frankly, I don’t wanna hurt anything permanently that I’m not going to eat.

But, these sealions are messing with our livelihood. 

One of my panga captains showed me that if you take a dead bonito, you put a bunch of hot sauce into it.  Then heave it like a football at the sealion.

The sealion grabs it and dives with it’s treasure!

…then pops up barking like crazy!  It goes jumping around and swimming away as fast as it can!  It goes and bothers someone else’s boat.

Problem solved. 

Your %$#@ bonito has become seal repellent!

That’s my story!

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.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:

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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SHUT MY MOUTH

SHUT MY MOUTH

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 12, 2022 in Western Outdoor Publications

They say if you own a restaurant, it’s inevitable that your employees will steal from you.  It’s a very accurate truism.

Having worked or managed 14 restaurants plus a catering business, there’s just no way to watch every single employee every single minute.

We’ve owned our own Tailhunter Restaurant here in La Paz now for 13 years on the waterfront.  Employee theft is rampant.  It’s blatant.  It’s uncontrollable.

We’ve had workers who have been with us for years.  Servers, dishwashers, manager, and cooks that we consider family. We trust them.

We provide benefits, vacations, bonuses, health care, personal loans for school and home.  Many have never had these perks working for other employers.

 If you have a problem, come to Jonathan and Jilly.  Close the office door and we’ll figure something out!

Regretfully, some of our best people have been our saddest and biggest disappointments.  And our worst thieves.

Everything from stealing tips to even stealing knives and forks.

We’ve caught managers on our security cameras walking out with cases of ribs or boxes of shrimp.  We have caughtthem smiling into the camera. 

Two of our employees climbed the roof to our upper floors.  They stole cases of liquor.  That was too easy.

Two hours later they came back.  They stole several flat screen TV’s.  Just carried them over the rooftops and down a ladder.

One employee broke into our office and stole the entire safe with the payroll!  It was bolted to the floor!  He was caught smiling into the security camera as well.

On a smaller scale, waiters will jimmy the orders and not give the cashier the full amount.  They pocket the difference.

Packs of tortillas disappear or don’t match inventory. A case of beer disappears.  What the heck happened to the fish fillets that were delivered yesterday?  I know we didn’t sell them.

We recently caught one of our best employees.  He’s a young man I’ll call Omar.  

Omar came to us and we could see he had some potential.  Never worked in a restaurant, but willing to learn.  He started in the kitchen.  Then became a server.

When we were short-handed one night, he stepped in to help our bartender during an evening rush.  The kid liked it and he had talent.

Over the next few months, he developed into one of the best bartenders we had.  Everyone loved his concoctions.  He was great with the other employees.  Omar was a real gem.  A rare find. A favorite.

Then, we caught him red-handed on the security cam.  He was in the upstairs kitchen helping himself to a pot of rice.  Had a nice bowl of it.

Geeze…not him too!

We’ve tried all kinds of ways over the years to curb the theft.  Short of firing someone, most don’t work.  Stealing continues to a larger or lesser degree.

But darnit…employees are really hard to find these days.  Good employees are even harder to find.  Good employees that we really like are an even rarer commodity.  

So we brought the kid into the office.  Omar knew he was in trouble when we shut the door.  Or worse.

I’ve always thought of him as “kid.”  Anyone under 40 years-old working for us these days is a kid.

We wanted to hear his side of the story and why he was stealing rice.  It looked like it wasn’t his first time the way he was easily spooning-up the rice in the video footage. 

Why are you stealing food?

“I was really hungry…”

That hung in the air for a moment.  The way he said it.

It wasn’t like, you or me getting “hungry” and having the “munchies.” 

He started to tear-up.  Eyes were watering .

I always thought he was in his mid-to-late 20’s.  He was only 20 years old.  For the first time, I was seeing him as a real kid.

He really WAS hungry.  He had not eaten.

Turns out this was his first real job with us.  First time he had been trusted with a position and responsibility.

Talking…listening to this kid really for the first time…

He told us he had been abandoned at an orphanage with his sister when he was 8 years old.  Parents just left them.

He bounced around in and out. 

Never got any real schooling.

Never really had a stable home situation.  Lived with his sister for awhile. They would get kicked out or they had to move.  She had her own issues of drugs.

He was never sure where he would be sleeping the next week.  The next month.  The next day. 

But, he always made it to work.

And all his life, there had never been enough food.  Not in the orphanage.  Not living with others.  Not living on his own.

Never enough food.  At night, no food security.  Not knowing where the next meal is coming from.

He was honestly hungry. 

And for the first time, we’re seeing this kid differently. 

These days with the shortage of employees we tend to grab anyone who can walk, talk, breathe and show up.   We often don’t have time to really get to know many of them.

We can’t. I know we should and we do our best.

We are jamming full-speed.  Many of them don’t last anyway these days. 

They quit.  They disappear.  Bring in the next one.

Omar had been a welcome surprise. 

And now here was a kid who was simply hungry.  For a simple bowl of rice. 

We had been ready to possibly fire him.  We were raring to give him a stern lecture or rake him over the coals.  Make an example of him to the other employees.

Over a simple bowl of rice.

The fire was not there. How could we get angry?  He needed a hug and a meal.  Not our vitriol.

Just shut my mouth!

We so take things for granted.  We Americans hear about people who don’t have enough food all the time. 

But they are always “somewhere else.”  They are not the people you are in contact with day-to-day. 

All of us have full refrigerators and pantries.  At 3 p.m., we are “starving” for a bag of chips.  Or “starving” for a candy bar.  We are “famished” to have dinner.

Just shut my mouth.  

We’re going to make some changes.  No one doesn’t eat on our watch.

That’s my story…

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.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:

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.”

Read Full Post »

RUN or RIDE IT OUT?

RUN OR RIDE IT OUT?

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 2, 2022 in Western Outdoor Publications

It’s early morning here in La Paz and still dark outside even though it’s about 7:30 in the morning. Normally, the sun is well on it’s way to sunrise.

But, it’s dark outside because we’re waiting for Hurricane Kay to hit us.  Rain has already started falling although the winds haven’t arrived yet.

Other than streetlights reflecting off shiny wet roadways, the morning is punctuated by incredibly bright flashes of lightning.  It’s pretty ominous and we’re bracing.

It’s not like we haven’t been through these before.  In almost 30 years down here, I think this would be Hurricane 10 or 11.  Maybe more. 

Some years we get them.  Then we can go years without one. Some years, we get more than one.

It’s part of living here in the tropics.  Living the dream, right?

The biggest drawback for us are all our fishermen that are here. 

Originally, Kay was supposed to only be a “tropical storm”.  It has grown up. It has grown big.  Kay is now bordering on being a category 2 or category 3 hurricane.

We saw that there was going to be a storm.  Sometimes they arrive without much warning, but this one was building.  I sent out notices to all our folks flying down that it was coming. 

Check your flight.  Let me know if you want to cancel.  There’s a good chance you might lose a day or two or all your fishing trips to cancelation.

To their credits, I suppose, no one canceled.

“I’d rather be in Baja drinking a beer in the rain than stuck in my office or stuck on the freeway back home” was the general consensus.

But, this morning, I had to inform about 40 fishermen ready to go with gear-in-hand, that we were going to cancel. Overnight, the governor had closed the port.  No boat traffic in or out.

The beaches were already getting hit.  The little storm was turning into a big chugger. 

Buzz kill.  For all of them.  Us.  My captains.  My drivers.  My support staff.  This is what we do and we hate NOT doing it.

But, it is what it is and no one can control the weather.

So, now, the issues become a little more critical.

Will the airports close?

Will we be able to fly out?

What about flooding?

What happens if we lose electicity?

The hurricane has NOT hit us yet.  It’s several hundred miles away, but it’s always drizzling rain.  You can feel the vibe. 

However, I know there’s a mass of people at the Cabo Airport trying to grab any flight they can to get outta town.

I know the roads in some places are already flooded.  Internet and phone access is already getting spotty.

(I’m hoping to finish this column and have enough wifi bars to send it to my editor on time.)

So, here’s my thoughts.

Having been through many storms including historic Odile in 2014,  I’ll be honest. Most storms are just a big inconvenience to most tourists. 

Odile was a massive an catastrophic exception.

Unless you do something truly dumb-bass like crossing a flooded arroyo; jumping into the surf; headed out in a fishing boat in big seas, you’re gonna be fine.

No one gets hurt. 

You might miss your plane.  Or your booze cruise gets cancelled and you miss a day of fishing or something.

Wifi or phone signal goes out so you can’t facetime all your friends back home about what a terrible time you’re having or you can’t watch the latest episode of the “Bachelor”.

You’re ultimately going to be OK.

Believe me, the boss will understand if you’re back to work a day or two late.

It won’t be the vacation you envisioned and you might have the most terrible of times with everything ruined.  But, you’re gonna be OK.

If you are in a situation down here and there’s a storm approaching, you do have a choice of staying or getting outta Dodge.

Remember, if you decide to bail out, the last minute tickets and reservation changes are usually difficult and very expensive.

If you’re just going to run to the airport, remember that a lot of other people have the same idea.  As mentioned, we have Hurricane Kay on it’s way and at this moment, there are 3 hour lines at the Cabo Airport of folks trying to find seats.

If you stay, what will it be like?

What are the chances you’ll lose electricity?  To me, that’s a big one.

Most resort hotels have generators.  So, you’re not going to be losing lights or other services.   If it’s not a big storm, chances of losing power are not very big anyway.

But in smaller remote areas…at small hotels that are older or boutique hotels…if you lose electricity, it can be a totally different matter.

It’s one thing to have your fishing trip canceled and stuck in your room watching Mother Nature.  It’s way different if you have no power.

Forget TV.  Smallest of your problems.

No electrical  means no air-conditioning with 80% humidity.  Ever sat in a sauna?

Many hotels have electrical pumps to pump water into rooms from cisterns.  If you have no pumps, that could also mean no showers or bathrooms either.   No phone charging on top of that. 

That could be really miserable.  We all know people that losing the ability to use their cellphones is even more important than the ability to take a shower or use the bathroom.

Or, you need that phone to check airlines!

Maybe one day we’ll be able to predict these things, and as a vacationer, there’s no real way to prepare once you’re already down here.

But, it’s something to think about.

I gotta wrap this up.  Power is getting wonky and I’m starting to lose our wi-fi signal…again.  Here we go…

It’s like the click…click…click as you ride the rollercoaster and that first hill as you slowly go up before the big drop.

Click…click…click.

You know you’re gonna be fine at the end, but in between you better hold on!

That’s my story…

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.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:

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.”

Read Full Post »

NO ME OLVIDES (Don’t Forget Me)

DESCANSO!

NO ME OLVIDES (DON’T FORGET ME)

Originally Published the Week of Aug. 25, 2022 in Western Outdoor Publications

If you’ve ever driven down the Baja Peninsula or have or had the opportunity for that matter on any Mexican country highway, there is perhaps nothing more poignant then what you see on the side of the road.

Yes, if you’re not driving, stop checking your Facebook messages for a moment.  Or stop taking selfies mugging for friends back home with the beer in your hand.

Plenty of time for that.

Look up.  Look out. 

Yes, you’re gonna see a lot of scrub brush.  Cactus.  Mountains or cliffs maybe in the distance.  Crossing another dry arroyo. The Pacific or Sea of Cortez shimmering off the horizon.

No, look a little closer to the road. 

Down there closer to the pavement zooming by or on the highway shoulder. 

It’s a bit sobering.  It might even make you put your beer down for a moment and give you pause.

And reflection.

After many years down here, nothing characterizes a Baja road more than the numerous crosses and shrines built next to the road. 

Not the occasional burro.  Not the occasional loncheria taco stand. Not the faded billboard for Tecate Beer.  Not the dry desolation that looks like no one has ever been there.

Because, you see the markers and crosses and obviously, someone has indeed been there.  

And then wasn’t.  But someone is trying to remember.

They come in many shapes and sizes. 

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Some sit forlorn and forgotten. 

Crude rusting metal.  Blasted over the years by sun, wind and the other elements. 

Crumbling wooden markers that are deteriorating and eroded by the arid Baja days and freezing nights.

Others are as elaborate or well-kept as if someone visits them regularly.

5TiTDsm

Mini concrete block sanctuaries adorned with candles and dusty plastic flowers.  Perhaps a glass-framed painting of the Virgin Mary within.

Or a saint. A little raught-iron fence around it.

Or whitewashed rocks.

Others are built from the local stone of the area into little cairns or grottos.  Perhaps a wooden name hammered on the front.

Some might have some special crucifix made by some skilled craftsman.  Way back. 

You might see a number of markers in a row.  A family?

I have often been asked about them down here.

They are not grave markers although that is often the common sentiment among visitors.   That can sometimes be confusing.  The local name for them is “descansos.”  (Resting place)

But, they do mark a spot where tragedy happened. 

simple cross

The story has it that originally, the practice of marking goes back to the days of the missionaries and conquistadors.  It was a tough trail back then as they criss-crossed the continent for church, crown and gold.

They marked you where you fell.  Then end of your personal trail in life.

So, originally, they truly were grave markers. 

You were covered up and the explorers kept moving. The early pioneers, trappers, soldiers and settlers did the same in the U.S.

But modernly, the spots in Mexico don’t mark the spot of interment.  Rather, they spiritually mark the spot where the “soul left the body.”

So, most often it’s a roadside accident.

And there are a lot of markers along the roads. 

Mexican highways can be notorious for accidents.  Poor construction such as lack of barriers or maintenance; inadequate grading; poor lighting; poor markings and signage have all contributed.

Animals such as goats, cows, burros and horses regularly cross highways.  It is not uncommon for animals to sleep at night on the warm asphalt or gravel especially on colder desert nights.

Add to that the human factor.  Actually it’s A LOT of human factor.

Simple bad driving.  High speed. Alcohol.  Bad judgement or a bad vehicle. 

Living in Mexico, it’s a daily occurrence to see local folk who treat the road like their personal Hot Wheels track and most folks have never had a formal driving lesson.  You pass the test, you get your card.  

Heck, many folks I know do not even really have  licenses.

Rules of the road are “self-regulated” and there are no infractions unless you get caught.

But as you travel, you see these memorials.  The bottom of a curve.  In the mountains.  Rocky areas.  Tricky turns. 

All evident of a violent and untimely place where souls left their bodies.

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Other times, there is no indication of what might have occurred on some long stretch of road.  Perhaps someone just feel asleep.  Perhaps an animal or another car.

Often the memorials are adorned with a mangled car door.  Maybe the hubcaps or side view mirrors and debris from the vehicle.

To go along with the occasional wreath or flowers or glass candles.  Or whatever creative construction has been erected by the survivors.

It’s a fascinating and reflective opportunity if you get the chance to stop to examine some of these memorials to lives suddenly ended. 

Descansando en Paz…resting in peace.

Drive carefully yourself!

That’s My Story…

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.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:

 

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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