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WHERE THE WILD THING ARE…er…WERE

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Where the Wild Things Are…er…Were

Originally published the Week of July 4, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

As a little kid, there was a beach I would sneak off to back home in Hawaii.

 

I’m dating myself.  I could ride my sting-ray bike there.

 

Down from the main road to where it sloped to gravel.  Down through the thick over-hanging jungle canopy. The air was thick and moist and the gravel gave way to a path of rich soft wet damp earth that never seemed to dry out and carpeted with soggy decaying leaves.

 

It would suddenly break into a clearing that I simply called “my beach.”  A sunny little white sand cove protected by a small shallow coral reef.  Dark lava rocks at the two small headlands and waves broke gently over into a blue pool about as wide as I could throw a rock.

 

A small stream that started somewhere in the rain forest up in the mountains dropped from a small waterfall.  It emerged from the thick vegetation and tumbled over smooth dark boulders through a gritty arroyo where it’s darker reddish waters joined the blue ocean.

 

It was a good little place to fish.  Or swim.  Or hang out with neighborhood pals under the coco palms.  For a bunch of black-haired, barefooted, hell-bent tribal children with unlimited energy and imagination , it was the best playground.

 

Where the wild things are.

 

Build forts out’ve driftwood. Chase each other with rounds of “Marco Polo,” our version of “tag.”

 

Play “chicken” in the waters while perched on each other’s shoulders and exhausted ourselves with laughter attacking the “king of the hill” on the small sand dunes.   Then later a retreat under the palms to eat sandwiches or maybe sticky-finger spam and rice rolls made by our moms.

 

Looking back we referred to it as “little kid time.”

 

It was “my beach.”  And I was convinced no one knew about it.  We never saw anyone else there.

 

On the island we just figured there were lots of little hidden beaches and coves.  This was “ours.”  Other people must have “their own beach.”  Right?   Little boys have their own brand of logic.

 

But, as with all “little kid time,”  little kids grow up.  Life and other things came along.  The islands were left behind, but always carried with me.

 

Years later, I came back.  To where the road ended.  To where the gravel started.  To where the dirt path emerged from the dampness to the light.  And I stopped.

 

Or to be more precise.  I was halted.

 

By a barbed wire gate.  It had a sign.

 

“No Trespassing.  Private Beach.  Exclusively for Owners.  No locals.”

 

Some “non-local” kids were gunning wave runners through the shallows where we used to play chicken.  Some new “kings of the hill” had built expensive houses on our sand.  An expensive European SUV was parked in front of one of them.

 

I stared at the barbed wire. . . and the sign.

 

Fast forward.

 

Two days ago. Mid-day Baja heat.

 

I drove out to one of the beaches north of La Paz where we live.  Just needed to get out’ve the office and not to be found for an hour or so.

 

No more beeping text messages or phone calls. Maybe just close my eyes for a few minutes to the sound of…nothing.

 

Just to take a breath.  Get some air.  Look at some blue water.  Get lucky and watch some dolphin make me envious.

 

I drove to one of the remote beaches.  This one famous on postcards for sugar sand and water the color of sapphire turquoise. It often shows up on travel shows and brochures as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

 

And there, plain as day, the beach had been lined with umbrellas and plastic tables and chairs.  And you needed to pay for a permit.

 

It was like being told you can’t look at Yosemite or the Grand Canyon without renting special glasses.

 

Oh, and no photos allowed either.  Or what?  Are you kidding me?

 

On the license plates here in Baja it says, “La Frontera.” The frontier. Yea, I get it.  Wide open spaces. Deserted beaches. Solitary beaches.  OK. It’s not Mexico City. It’s definitely not the mainland.

 

But, it had this reputation of being someplace you could still find the wild places to go.

 

And maybe re-aquaint yourself with some of your own internal wildness or hidden “little kid time”  that seems to get buried in traffic jams, office politics, corporate jumble and suburbia strip-mall-life-back home.

 

I guess, it’s still here.  You just have to look a little hard and go a little further.  And further still.  Everywhere.  Somewhere.

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
 
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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Oh Say Can You See?

Oh Say Can You See?

Originally Published In Western Outdoor Publications the Week of April 12, 2017

I want to tell you a little story.

We just finished our 21st year on the road.  For 3 months of the year, we drive to a different fishing and hunting show around the country.

 

We sell the Baja.  Our Baja.  The sunshine.  The fishing.  The blue water.  Come put your toes in the sand and get away from it all.

 

Seattle…Denver…Portland…Boise…San Diego…Salt Lake City…it’s the life of a modern carnival worker.

 

We arrive in a city in our cargo van.   Set up our booth.  Talk to folks for 4 or 5 days. Break it all down.  Drive another 1000 miles or so to the next city.

 

Ready for the next show.  And on and on. See a lot of wonderful country.  Shake a lot of hands.  Talk to a lot of wonderful folks.

 

There’s a whole gaggle and rag-tag of other outfitters, guides, vendors, and show people who follow “the circuit.”

 

Several weeks ago at the show in Phoenix, my booth was surrounded by the usual outfitters.  One couple from Alaska.  Another from Colorado.  A guide from Canada.

 

But across the aisle from me, was a booth set up with chairs in a row.  The “kid” working the booth was selling electric back massagers.  Oh joy.

 

For two days, I watched the kid bust his butt working his booth and talking to people.  His booth was a favorite.

 

Everyone walking that show loved sitting in his chairs and getting a back massage.  Who wouldn’t?

 

But, I loved watching the kid work.

 

“C’mon in.  Put your feet up for a few minutes!” he would smile.

 

I say “kid” only because he was a lot younger than me. Medium height. Dark and swarthy with a neat mustache and beard. Good shape. Polo shirt Nike tennis shoes and hip black skinny jeans that I couldn’t wear even on my best days back then.

 

On the 3rd day of the show, a few minutes before they opened the doors to the public, he walked over to my booth and stuck out his hand with a big smile.

 

He introduced himself as Yama Nasrallah.

 

He said he had also been watching me working the past two days.  We struck up an easy conversation.

 

As vendors do, I told him I live in Mexico.

 

He told me he was from Afghanistan.

 

Over the next few minutes, he explained that he had come to the U.S. fifteen years ago.  He used to have businesses in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He moved with his mom, dad and brothers.

 

“When I came to America I could not speak or write any English.  I told myself the only way to get ahead is to learn English. So, I made myself study hard every night while I worked at whatever jobs I could get to support my family.”

 

“I still do not write English very well,” he grinned, “But I speak English pretty good and I still study every night…after work! I must be better!” he added enthusiastically in a slight accent.

 

Without prompting, he told me that hard work is the only way to get ahead and do good.  Too many people…even Americans (he laughed) expect things to be given to them.

 

But, he told me he works usually 7-days-a-week.  He does over 100 shows around the United States every year.

 

He now employed his two younger brothers and they were manning his other two booths at the same Phoenix show.  One sold soft bamboo sheets and pillows for camping.  The other sold a handy high-tech utility flashlight.

 

He had a warehouse in Salt Lake City.

 

I couldn’t help but grin and compliment him.

 

“Y’know, if you are lazy you won’t get anywhere.  I teach that to my young brothers.  They like to party too much,” he laughed.  “But hard work is how you earn respect.”

 

“Everyone thinks America is where life is good and things are free and you are entitled to anything you want.  That is not true.  America gives you opportunity and freedom to make choices.”

 

As the show would start in a few minutes and both of us had some things to get ready, he gave me a quick firm handshake, a smile and wished me a great day. He hustled back to his booth.

 

I walked back to my booth.

 

A few minutes later, just before the gates opened,  the show producers always play the Star Spangled Banner over the loudspeakers.

 

Most of the show people, vendors, outfitters and guides, stop what they are doing and face a nearby American flag.  Often several hundred vendors.

 

Hand over heart.  Hat over heart. Hands clasped behind back.  Old veterans often stand at attention and salute. No one takes a knee.  Some sing.

 

It’s a great way to start the day.  Like being in school again in some ways.

 

But, I’m always annoyed at someone who forgets.  Some folks don’t notice that everyone else is paying respect.  They keep writing.  Or talking.  Or chatting on their cell phones.

 

It makes me smirk. C’mon, put it on hold for a minute.

 

Toward the last part of the song, I glanced over at Yama, my new friend from Afghanistan.  Vendor of electric massagers, pillows and flashlights.

 

Straight as an arrow.

 

“Oh say does that star spangled…”

 

Hand over heart.

 

“…Banner yet wave…”

 

Shoulders back

 

“O’er the land of the free…”

 

Head high towards the huge American flag on the wall.

 

“And the home of the brave!” 

 

And when it all ended and all the outfitters were clapping and cheering, Yama, who can speak English, but can’t write English so well. . .

 

put two fingers to his lips and let out the loudest whistles.

 

And started pumping his fist in the air…

 

“U.S.A!  U.S.A!  U.S.A!”

 

I don’t think anyone else saw or heard.  I don’t think Yama cared. He didn’t look around. He got ready to work.  To earn respect.  To get ahead.

 

You go, Yama.

 

And that’s my story.

Jonathan signature

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

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones: 

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttps://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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BAJA BITS PIECES and TACKLE BOX STICKY NOTES

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BAJA BITS PIECES and TACKLE BOX STICKY NOTES!

Originally Published Week of Feb. 28, 2017 in Western Outdoor News Publications

Insofar as lots of you are making or possibly thinking about making a Baja trip this year, and this is the time vacations are made,  there’s a few notes to pass along you might find interesting.

 

There’s good news as far as airline travel.  For one, Southwest has jumped into the already jammed list of carriers flying folks into Cabo San Lucas.  This has several great benefits.

 

I’m not a schill for Southwest.  But hey…in the age of getting nickel-and-dimed by the airlines these days who are trying their best to stay aloft and competitive, Southwest does allow those awesome two free bags!  For fishermen transporting rods, reels, ice chests, boat parts and frozen fish, this rocks.

 

Secondly, Southwest has made a name for itself by being relatively lower-priced than other airlines.  Sometimes a lot lower.   Super.

 

However, by jumping into the mix, their presence has forced other airlines to lower their fares in order to stay competitive.  Winner-winner chicken dinner for us Baja travelers!

 

Also, while on that same subject of airline fares, there’s more good news.  Even on those Mexico routes where Southwest has not started, overall, airfares seem to be substantially lower than last year.

 

I don’t know why, but I’m not arguing either.  I was told that it was because fuel prices have remained lower for several seasons.  Since airlines make their fuel purchase contracts in advance, they have cheap fuel inventory which then gets passed onto us consumers.

 

The downside is there are still some dates, you might want to re-think flying or, at least be prepared to pony up some extra dinero.  One of those is April.

This year, Easter falls smack in the middle of the month.  On either side of that you’ve got a big demand for airline tickets for the springbreak kids and families that flock to Mexico.  The airlines have no problem filling planes.  So, prices are jacked-up.

 

Simple supply-and-demand economics 101.   You’re lucky to even find tickets by this late date for many routes to the most popular places.

 

On top of that, Easter and Holy Week (Semana Santa) are the busiest times for Mexicans to fly.  It’s not Christmas.  It’s not Thanksgiving (an American holiday, not Mexican!).

 

Many local families fly domestically to visit other parts of Mexico and vice versa.  Likewise, many Mexican families fly out of the country and many from the U.S. also fly into Mexico for visits.  That just creates a glut of travelers all vying for limited seats and willing to paying premium prices.

 

So, if you’re wondering why you’re seeing such high prices or non-existent airline seats in April, that’s the reason.  Oh, and many hotels also charge more during the holidays, as they do in the U.S.

 

If you are planning to make a trip, don’t forget to purchase your fishing licenses online.  Many outlets no longer sell the paper fishing licenses.  We use such sites as www.bajasursportfishing.com to get those purchased.

 

It’s actually fast and easy and for once, the Mexican government has a functional well-organized site that doesn’t break down or eat your visa card numbers!   In the past, even Mexican officials would tell me with rolled-eyes that the old sites looked like they were built by high-school interns.

 

If you do get on the site, just don’t panic when you see the prices.  They are in pesos and are not a house or car payment.  Simply divide by about 20 and it’ll show you that the licenses are actually very affordable.  Also, revenue raised from the permits help fund conservation and anti-poaching in Baja and keeps the inspectors out there and vigilant.

 

Just remember, everyone MUST have a fishing license.  Even if they are not going to be fishing.  If they are on a vessel where others are fishing, even if it’s your 90-year-old grandma who wants to knit or your 2-year-old who sleeps through the whole thing, they must have a permiso.

 

If you’re thinking about driving or have not driven the Baja in a long time, prepared to be surprised.  This is NOT your daddy’s old Baja road.

 

Much of the Mexican Highway 1, is two or four lanes in each direction and about as modern as you might want to find.  This is especially true between towns and cities.  The towns and cities is where you will probably get bogged down with street lights, stop signs and construction.  But, it’s getting there!

 

However, the days of looking for a gas station or being relieved to find someone pumping green PEMEX gasoline from a 50-gallon drum and filtering it with a t-shirt into a milk carton are gone.  Gas stations with convenience stores are everywhere and emergency road-side service is not difficult to obtain.  Cell phone reception gets better each year although there’s some stretches that are still thankfully still quite desolate.

 

Lastly, a word on El Nino that played havoc on the weather; the fishing; and the bait for the last two season.  The experts say it’s over.

 

But, it’s been a tough winter in Baja.  If there’s storms in the U.S. they don’t stop just because there’s a border.  High winds, big seas, and even rain have pummeled the Baja just like in the U.S….only it’s warmer!

 

However, general temperatures look to have returned to normal and my observers are telling me they’re seeing more bait around than they’ve seen in the last two years!  Perhaps a harbinger of a great season to come!

 

This week is the big Fred Hall Fishing and Boating Show at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach.  It runs Wednesday to Sunday March 1-5 and it’s huge!  We’ll be in our regular booth as we have been for over 20 years in the fishing tackle area.  Everyone who is anyone in the fishing industry is there!  Bring the family and come say hi!

Dos centavos.  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

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones: 

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttps://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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THE REWIND BUTTON

Too have been there in the 60’s when Cabo was just a beach…when people like Bing Crosby walked the halls of Hotel Las Cruces…when big fish were the norm in the Sea of Cortez and in the heyday of such great places like the Serenidad Hotel when the Johnsons hosted the Flying Samaritans and the aroma of barbecued pork could wafted down the coastline.

THE REWIND BUTTON

Originally Published the Week of Feb. 15, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

I was asked the other day how I might have done things differently now that I’ve marked more than 20 years working and living in Baja.  I had to think about that because I’ve never given it much thought.

 

I confess much of my time, especially the early years, was spent dealing with the immediate present.   I was more concerned with things like, “Where is my next meal coming from?”   Or, “Dangit, do I have enough gas in the boat to make it back to the beach?” And, “How far can I make 200 pesos stretch until I get paid?”

 

Whew.

 

I gratefully have not had thoughts like that in a long time.  Life doesn’t guarantee anything.  I don’t take things for granted.   However,  at least at this stage in my life, I’m usually laughing to myself if those questions inadvertently race through my brain’s neurons.

 

But, looking back, I guess I would have changed a few things.

 

For one, I would have come to Baja sooner.  I didn’t make it down to Baja until my early 30’s.  I would have loved to have seen the Baja 10 or 20 years earlier…like the during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.   I would have loved to have seen Cabo San Lucas “back in the day” when it was still a fishing town.

 

I would have loved to have seen the Baja of Gene Kira, Fred “Baja Ha-Ha” Hoctor, Neil Kelly and Ray Cannon and other great writers who saw Baja in the days when it was truly “la frontera” (the frontier).

 

If my time machine was powerful enough, what I wouldn’t give to have experienced the Baja of John Steinbeck on the Western Flyer with Ed Ricketts!

 

Looking back, I would  had taken the time to have seen some of the great legendary landmark resorts and hotels in their heyday like Punta Chivato; Punta Colorada, Rancho Leonero, Las Cruces,   Hotel Las Arenas or even The Old Mill in San Quintin and so many others.

 

Some are still going strong, but to have seen them “back in the day” would’ve been pretty special.   So many are gone now or are a shadow of their previous glory when they sat alone on pristine fishing waters.

 

Likewise, the “old Finnie” Finisterra Hotel, Hotel Cabo San Lucas and the Hacienda Hotel  hewn out’ve rocks and cliffs would have been something to have experienced in their days of elegance.  I was fortunate enough to spend some time during their waning years, but to have been there when mariachis roamed the halls and played for well-heeled celebrities and guests must have been something to see.

 

Looking back, I would have brought my parents to Baja sooner.  Lots of kids are brought down by their parents, but I was the first in the family to venture south.  It wasn’t until many years later that I got my father to travel with me.  Other family members followed over the years.

 

Those times remain some of the best memories with them.  That “window” closed too soon and before long they had either had passed away or were too old to travel any longer.  And all we have are the memories.

 

As another afterthought, why did I take so long to stick my head underwater? I was raised in the water.  I spent many of my younger years in Hawaii.   I was so intent on fishing from “above the surface” I never stuck my head “below the surface.”

 

Then, I got SCUBA certified.  It opened up an entire new spectacular world that so enthralled me, I kept going until I got my divemaster certification and became a working divemaster.  The waters surrounding the Baja are some of the most incredible in the world.  It also made me not only a better fisherman, but also gave me a greater appreciation for all for the ocean and especially Baja.

 

I surely would have spent more time in the bush.  When you’re living hand-to-mouth, you like to be somewhat close to things like water, gas, electricity and transportation. . .  No matter how primitive.   I would have spent more time as far away from those things as possible knowing that with each approaching year, it would be increasingly difficult because those places are disappearing.

 

In the same vein, I would have literally “taken the roads less traveled.”  More deserted roads should have been explored.  I should have followed more goat paths.

 

They should have been followed to find out what beach, canyon, vista or adventure lay at the end.  Nowadays, too many others have already been down those roads.

 

Finally, I would have learned Spanish earlier and worked at it harder.  It’s my greatest regret that I’m not more fluent. Language is the ultimate “code.”

 

I’ve gotten better, but I think of how so many previous experiences would have been enriched by knowing and understanding Spanish better.  I can only think of what I missed by not understanding a word here or a phrase there.  Likewise, if I had a better command of Spanish, I could have contributed more as well.

 

Yes, it would have been great to have done so many things earlier. Still,  I’ve got no regrets!  But, I guess it’s not too late.  And that’s the beauty of Baja.  There’s still so much waiting to be experienced and folks continue to discover what a special place it is!

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

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones: 

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttps://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.”

Read Full Post »

Asked and Answered!

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Asked and Answered

Originally Published the Week of Feb. 3, 2017 in Western Outdoor News

As I write this, I’m sitting in my hotel room near Seattle, instead of our place in La Paz.  This is the time of year when we’re on the road like so many outfitters, charter operations, guides and travel services.

 

We’re on the “circuit” travelling each week from one hunting and fishing expo show to another trying to drum up business.  These are huge multi-day shows in major cities that attract thousands of fishermen, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.

 

In the last 3 weeks, we were in Denver for their big 4-day show.  Then a quick crazy drive through the snow to rainy Sacramento for a 4-day show.  And here we are just outside Seattle for a 5-day show.  By the time you’re reading this, we’ll probably be at the Portland show.   And on-and-on for the next 2 ½ months.

 

During these shows, I speak to dozens of Baja fishermen every day.  It’s a great opportunity to chat;  answer questions; get feedback; share stories and hopefully promote and encourage folks to come fishing with us in Baja!

 

In speaking with so many great folks, I get a lot of the same repeated questions.  I’d like to share some of the most common with you and my general responses.  Now understand, this is just my own personal little two-cent opinion.  I don’t speak for anyone else.  Don’t be sending me hater e-mails if you don’t agree.

 

Here we go:

 

What’s a good time to go to Mexico?

 

Actually right now!  With the exchange rate at something like 22 pesos to the dollar, the dollar is incredibly strong.  It makes Mexico a super value and your tourist dollar goes really as far as what it was a year or two ago.

Airline rates are also dropping as the routes are getting more competitive, especially with the advent of new airlines arriving plus well-known budget carriers like Southwest expanding into more cities. Mexico is one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations to be found with great bargains to be had.

 

When is the worst time to travel to Mexico?

 

Well, I wouldn’t call it the “worst time,” but I’d personally avoid the week before and the week after Easter.  Airline rates are especially high and hotel rooms can be at a premium as well and hard to come by.

 

This is many folks fly in for “spring break,” but also because for Mexico, more folks fly internationally and domestically than Thanksgiving (Mexico doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving…except for tourists) and even more than Christmas.

 

Holy Week (Semana Santa) is much celebrated in Mexico and many Mexicans visit family and relatives.  So, flights are booked and expensive.

 

How come the fishing has been so bad the last few years?

 

It hasn’t been bad.  It’s just been…different.

 

The “El Nino” weather pattern has a lot to do with it and it’s been like an elephant in the room for the last two seasons.  It’s nature doing what nature does every decade or so.

 

With El Nino, the cooler waters that bring upwellings of nutrients never showed up. The waters remain unseasonably warm.

 

No nutrients meant not baitfish.  Without the food supply, the bigger sportfishing never really showed up.

 

Or, if they did, it was all helter-skelter with unusual fish showing up at different times or certain species not showing up at all.  On the other hand, areas like Southern California have experienced giant tuna just offshore; wahoo and marlin within sight of the Orange County freeways; plus delivered much needed rain and moisture for the entire western U.S.

 

The scientists have declared El Nino over and a gradual return to normalcy is expected.

 

Is there a lot of anti-American sentiment about President Trump?

 

On the street level, I’m not seeing much of it.  There was a lot of rhetoric and worry during the election that got heated, much like in the U.S.  It still continues with a wait-and-see attitude.  But, nothing directed at tourists!

 

In my opinion, Mexicans, are a lot like Americans.  They are either very passionate about politics or they aren’t.  Most folks at ground zero, seem understandably more ticked at the Mexican government for recently raising gasoline prices by a whopping 20%!

 

For folks who literally can only afford to put in a dollar of gas at a time; or have to ride public transportation,  it’s a huge increase.  It has resulted in protests and some degree of civil unrest.  Again, wait-and-see.  Economists say prices will adjust.

 

And, I guess we’ll see what happens with “the wall” that the President promises.   But, I don’t and have not seen any particular anti-gringo sentiment. Anti-politician sentiment…yes!  Just like most countries.  But nothing directed at individuals.  Mexico loves tourism.

 

 

What about the new tourist tax that’s coming in Baja?

 

It’s a non-issue for the most part.  With the current dollar-to-peso exchange rate it’s a “massive” 17 dollars and mostly will be part of the airline ticket.  It’s like buying gasoline in the states, a huge amount of the price are “taxes and fees.”

 

Tourists don’t even realize it.

 

For years, many of us visiting Baja paid an “exit tax” to leave the country and had to dig into our pockets at the airport when departing after our vacations.  A lot of us had empty pockets by that time!

 

So, they just added it to the cost of the airline ticket.

 

 

Do you need a passport to visit Mexico?

 

You bet.  Easily obtained online.  Don’t wait until the last minute to get your passport or try to get it expedited in time for summer vacation at the same time when half the U.S. is trying to get a passport.

 

Tourism cards won’t work.  The days of simply having a birth certificate are long gone.

 

Do my kids need fishing licenses even if they are not fishing?

 

You’re not letting your kids fish?  C’mon, man!

 

But yes, anyone on a craft where fishing is taking place must have a license.

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

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones: 

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttps://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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Two Kinds of Fishing

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TWO KINDS OF FISHING

Originally Published the Week of January 19, 2017 in Western Outdoor News

About the time I first moved to Baja many years ago, an old Baja fishermen who had already spent more than two decades wandering up-and-down the peninsula made an observation that I will never forget.

 

Back in those days, I tended to listen to anyone who seemed to have a handle on how to improve my fishing skills.

 

He told me that all fishing can be narrowed down to two types of fishing.

 

He called one “ego fishing.”

 

That’s where you go out and bang it up. You lock and load.   You catch a lot of fish.  You go all out.  You make yourself feel good catching the most fish…or the best fish…or a fish bigger than your buddy.  Every cast is a hit.  Every hit is a fight.  Every fight is a conquest Kodak moment.

 

You make yourself feel pretty good about yourself.

 

You’re the “hunter-gatherer” of all hunter-gatherers.  Inside, you’re thumping your chest and letting out your best Tarzan yell inside.  You’re high-fiving yourself all over the place.

 

Nothing wrong with that. Especially, if it’s done in fun and good sport.

 

He told me the “second kind of fishing” might not be as fun, but maybe more important. He called it “homework fishing.”

 

The old-timer explained to me that “homework fishing” is often what made ego fishing ultimately more fun.  Like the name, homework fishing meant doing the background work that helped you get ahead.  It meant leaving my comfort zone of what I knew and trying to do something different with the intent of improving skill set.

 

He told me that fishing in Baja was the best place to do it.  He explained that the rich Baja waters gave folks the opportunity to learn new things.  You could make mistakes and learn from them.  If something didn’t work, the ocean often gave you more chances to hone your skillset.

 

Basically, if you “farmed” (lost) a fish, you often had many more opportunities to give it another shot.  Therefore, you could see what worked and didn’t work.

 

So, he went on to tell me that it’s good to put the ego aside, even when everyone else is catching fish to try a new lure.  Try that new knot you had been working on.  Practice your casting.  Try different trolling patterns or colors.  Practice different ways to make a bait presentation or retrieving a lure.

 

You might catch fewer or less fish than the next person, but “one step back will often put you two steps forward in the long run.”

 

I never forgot that and it has served me well.

 

But, many years down the road, I think there’s a 3rd type of fishing.  I simply call it “Passing the Torch” fishing.  It’s where you pass on whatever you know and help someone else with their fishing.

 

You don’t need to be a pro.  It’s just involves imparting whatever you know to someone who doesn’t know.

 

It could be as simple as showing an 8-year-old how to pin a bait on a hook.  It could be showing another guy how to tie a knot he or she didn’t know.  Or as easy as sharing a story.

 

I guarantee that you’ll also learn something yourself.

 

As I write this, we’re here in Denver at the moment at the International Sportsman’s Expo.  We’ve had a booth here now for 16 years.  It’s the first of more than a dozen fishing/ hunting shows that we’ll do over the next three months.

 

This particular show has almost 600 outfitters and vendors from around the world.  Hunting lodges and guide services from South Africa to Argentina.  Fishing operations from the Bering Sea to the the Indian Ocean.  And, of course a few of us from Baja, Mexico as well.  There’s gear and guns, equipment and tackle, boats and RV’s.  It’s quite a show.

 

One of the most gratifying things is to see so many parents bringing their kids to these shows.  Or guys who bring their buddies.  I love seeing their eyes go wide as they walk the aisles and talk to real-life geography lessons.

 

It’s show-and-tell on a grand scale.

 

I had one gentleman this evening come to our booth. He wasn’t particularly looking to book a fishing trip.  But… He had never seen the ocean…except in photos.  It’s hard to wrap my brain around that one.  He had NEVER seen the ocean!

 

He had never caught a fish larger than a bluegill. We got him excited about white sand and big fish.  We talked about tacos, sunrises and fishing in flip-flops and shorts.  We told him about turquoise waters that were warm as bathwater.     We convinced him to give Baja a try.

 

He just sent me an e-mail telling me he was so excited he couldn’t sleep and how much he had enjoyed the chat.  He had  already spent several hours looking at fishing websites and youtube videos about fishing in Mexico.

 

Little bits of knowledge.  From one to another.  And that’s how the word spreads!

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

 

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

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones: 

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttps://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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DARK CANYONS OF CATAVINA

 

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DARK CANYONS OF CATAVINA

Originally Published in Western Outdoor News the Week of January 3, 2017

The rocky canyons near Catavina at night in central Baja are lonely and cold in late December. Mounds and hills of building-sized boulders dot an ethereal landscape eerily beautiful but desolately forbidding, especially in the dark.

 

We had pulled the Chevy truck off the road for the night up. We negotiated a sandy arroyo and found a sheltered lee against a wall of rocky overhang several hundred yards from the highway.  Clear, cold mountain air held nothing but a million stars overhead.

 

A quick fire of mesquite held back the chill and the worn green Coleman stove propped on the  tailgate soon had us warming tortillas, beans and sizzling chorizo (ground pork sausage) by flashlight.  The big camp pot sure smelled good.

 

“Shhhh…listen!” hushed my buddy Brian abruptly from the other side of the truck. “Did you hear that? I think I heard something out there.”  His head swiveled nervously into the darkness away from our little intrepid fire,  banked against the rock wall.

 

We all stopped talking.

 

“I don’t hear anything,” said Laura nervously, also swinging around from staring into the warming flames. She tried hard to pierce the shadows unsuccessfully with temporarily blinded campfire eyes.

 

Silence.

 

“Wait, I hear it.  Listen.” I told them while at the same time needlessly and unconsciously motioning them to be quiet.

 

The smoke from the crackling mesquite wasn’t helping my night vision.  But something…or someone was out there in the boulders and shrubs.  And it was moving very quietly.  Treading lightly.

 

I was keenly aware that our little campfire made us perfect silhouettes. Subconsciously, we had all huddled a little lower and blinked to focus into the cold Baja dark.

 

There.  We all saw.

 

Through the smoke. Just beyond the edge of light. Ghostly gray.   Dimly at first and moving cautiously.

 

Hatted heads. Dirty faces.

 

Two men.  Shoulder -slung assault rifles in hands.

 

I could see only their upper torsos above the shrubs and rocks.   One young. One a bit older.

 

 “Hola,”said the older one in a flat monotone. In the reflection of the fire his dark eyes took in everything.

 

Just three of us gringos.  An isolated campsite in a rocky arroyo under the stars on a cold December night.  Our truck and provisions.  Exposed. Vulnerable.  Crap…

 

I kept my own eyes on them not daring to see how Brian and Laura were doing, but their nervous vibe was easily perceived. Being the only Spanish speaker I cautiously said, “Hola Senor,” as casually as I could.

 

Danged cotton mouth.  Swallow hard.  I think I raised my hand in a meek greeting.  So much for bravado.  You think you know how you’ll act when someone has a gun.  You don’t.

 

Voice betraying nothing, “Who are you and what are you doing here?”  said the older figures in Spanish.

 

My normal wise-guy response would have been “Who wants to know?”

 

This was not that time.  I didn’t want to say too much, but explained in my limited Spanish that we were campers and worked for a magazine taking photos of the dessert and driving back to California from Loreto.

 

I had both of my hands up. I would guess Brian and Laura did too.

 

At first the older man said nothing.  Too long of a pause.  Uneasy silence. Not good. He looked and studied us with a blank expression.

 

Then, he and the younger man stepped from behind the rocks. Military camouflage uniforms. Boonie hats.  Mexican army. The rifles weren’t pointing at us, but they were still arms-ready. My hackles and senses were still lit up.

 

Two army guys? In the middle of the desert? At night? My body wasn’t moving, but my brain raced through scenarios…and horror stories.

 

“Gringos? From California?”

 

 “Si.Yes. Driving back to San Diego.” I pointed cautiously to the dirt and bug-caked California license plate on the Chevy truck.

 

In that flat Spanish he said, “I have an uncle and cousin in Chula Vista. I like the Padres ‘beisbol.’”

 

  He grinned tightly and he lowered his weapon. So, did the youngster.

 

A communal exhale.   As Laura told me later, she about peed herself. I never admitted I was pretty close as well.

 

“We have a small camp over the ridge.  I have 7 men and we work the checkpoint on the highway to the north.  We smelled coffee and cooking meat, then followed it to the glow of your fire and the sound of conversation.”

 

He explained that they had watched us for a bit.  Narcos? (drug traffic)  Coyotes? (human traffic)  Borrachos?  (drunks).  They had approached cautiously. If we were just innocent campers, they didn’t want to scare us.  (No kidding)

 

“My name is Sargeant Ramiro and this is Private Antonio.”

 

The sergeant, who was no more than maybe 25-years-old, revealed he was as scared as we were!

 

“Mucho gusto and I am sorry we made you nervous,” he said extending his hand which we all shook with relief.  Antonio,  smiled and shook hands warmly as well.  Looked like he should be on a skateboard. Really young.

 

They gratefully accepted an invitation to the fire and cups of hot instant coffee in styrofoam cups.   We huddled close as the fire lit our faces and learned that they were not allowed to have fires while on duty or training.

 

“Military rules…” he shrugged. He sipped. Steam from the coffee held in two hands rose around his face.

 

In that clear high desert air in December, the wind in the rocky canyons was bone chilling.

 

An invitation to spoon up some burritos was not turned down.  Romero and Antonio had only eaten cold military food in four days. The three of us also packed some ourselves and wolfed them down with our own coffee.  I think it was also the adrenaline coming down.

 

Not much conversation, but smiles are smiles in any language.  And everything tastes good in camp.

 

As we had that big pot of beans and chorizo and several packs of tortillas, we told the two men to make more burritos, wrap them in foil and take them back to their camp.  Their faces brightened.

 

Soon, we had a little assembly line. Several dozen burritos wrapped in foil    Everything into some plastic grocery bags.  As we expected to hit the border the next day, in went a bottle of salsa;  bags of chips;  jerky; some oranges and cans of Coke.

 

With appreciative handshakes and smiles they trudged back out into the dark bushes anxious to bring their haul back to their own camp.

 

We waved as the blackness quickly wrapped folded around them.  The chilly darkness did not hesitate.

 

Laura looked at Brian.  Brian looked at me. I looked at them.

 

Whew! The sounds of our hearts in our throats.  We all started laughing.

 

In the morning when we woke up, a handwritten dog-eared note left on our windshield from a stealthy visitor.

 

Millones de gracias, mis amigos.  Bien viaje y que Dios les bendiga. Viva los Padres beisbol.   Feliz Ano Nuevo.  A million thanks, my friends.  Travel well and God bless you. Go Padres.  Happy New Year.

 

Seven scribbled signatures in at the bottom. A salsa smear on one corner.

 

We all smiled. I had forgotten the new year was upon us.  A few days.

 

The  morning sun was already chasing the vapor from our cold breaths.  Time to break camp and head for the border.

 

The note went onto the dusty dashboard. Next to the gum wrappers and sunglasses and sunflower seeds.  To be read and laughed about.  For the trip.  For years…

 

Happy New Year

 

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

 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

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones: 

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttps://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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