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Archive for the ‘historical’ Category

“I’m Jack from the Board of Tourism!”

“I’M JACK FROM THE BOARD OF TOURISM!”

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

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“I wish I had a pencil thin mustache

The Boston Blackie kind

A two-tone Ricky Ricardo jacket

And an autograph picture of Andy Devine”

 

  • “Pencil-Thin Mustache” by Jimmy Buffett

 

 

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

 

I called him Jack.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jack’s background was ideal.

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Not Jack.

 

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

 

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

 

Always laughing, he was everyone’s favorite.

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Who doesn’t like flowers?

 

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

 

And, the ladies would all tumble!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“And then another cruise ship would arrive…”

 

“That was me, Mr. Tourism!”

 

That’s my story!

signature June '18 two 1

Jonathan

 

______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________

 


Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

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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WHEN NOTHING WAS EVERYTHING

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WHEN NOTHING WAS EVERYTHING

Originally Published the Week of Aug 28, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

Back in the day, I used to teach fishing seminars and give fishing classes at the venerable old Hotel Las Arenas east of La Paz and about 30 miles north of the East Cape.  Sitting on a small hill on about 9 miles of beach, it looked right across at Cerralvo Island.

 

It’s been closed for many years now, but it was a gem.

 

Some sprocket guys from Europe in skinny tight black pants and “Flock of Seagulls” bleached-gel haircuts bought it to turn into a Club Med or something (“We don’t want ‘stinky fishermen’ in our hotel!” they told me.), but it never got off the ground.  LOL.

 

I’m glad it didn’t.  The old girl was too good for that indignity.

 

The last 10 miles were on a dirt road. As the hotel was built on the reverse slope of a hill facing the sea, you never saw the hotel until you came over that last rise.

 

And suddenly you were there!

 

What a place.  Old Mexico.

 

An oasis of two long white 2 story buildings nestled in the palm trees with curved tile roofs.  An administrative building where Patricia, the manager checked you in; assigned rooms and gave you the fishing schedule.  (She loved getting a bottle of red wine!) And a dining hall, bar and the swimming pool.

 

Carry your own bags, Senor.

 

You know how hotels have marquee signs that tell you all the amenities they offer?  (pool…cable TV…etc.)

 

The wooden sign for the Hotel Las Arenas would have been funny.

 

“Welcome to the Hotel!” 

No designer beds. No laundry. No in-room coffee maker or hair dryer.  No TV.  No ice machine.  No phones.  No room-service.  No spa.  No Air.

 

What else did you need?

 

You kept the windows open and let the breeze blow through.

 

The hotel had thick old walls that held out the Baja heat and cool tile floors you could lie on after a long day of hot fishing.  The tiles would simply pull the heat out’ve your body while a tired overhead ceiling fan bumped and whirred.

 

But, the hotel had the three most important things in a hotel back then.  It had a bar.

 

It had a great bartender who had a mighty arsenal of all the drinks he could concoct.  And Gabriel had a great memory. He not only knew everyone’s name he could remember your favorite drinks.

 

And it had ice.

 

No craft beer.  They had Corona, Pacifico and Modelo.  They were cold and that’s all that mattered.

 

It had an old tile pool that was just deep enough to reach your shoulders.  Any deeper and your beer would get wet.  No one swam. That would have been bad form.

 

Everyone just sort of bobbed with a beer bottle in hand.  It wasn’t a swimming pool.  It was a bobbing pool.  A dozen fishermen with a Corona-buzz would have laughed you out’ve the pool if you started actually swimming.

 

No menu.  It was whatever the great kitchen staff cooked.  But it was always fresh and no one complained and always centered around homemade Mexican dishes the Mexican moms in the back whipped up.
Tacos…enchiladas…bistec ranchero…ceviche…guacamole…fresh fish and salsas… You have not eaten until you’ve had a Mexican mom cook for you!

 

You could always smell the fresh tortillas, chorizo and other spices across the compound.

 

Three hearty meals a day.  If you missed it, you waited until the next one.  It was always communal and a great social event.  No one missed!

 

Breakfast was early because everyone wanted to get going fishing.  Lunch was a bag carried down to the waiting pangas on the beach along with ice and your fishing gear.  Those were exciting mornings.

 

Dinners were always fun and lively after a long fun day of fishing.

 

You definitely did not skip dinner which was always followed by bull-sessions around the pool or back on your room balcony to watch the sunset over the ocean.

 

The lights of the hotel would wink on while the setting sun painted the Baja twilight.

 

With no TV’s and in the halcyon days before laptops, ipads and smartphones, people actually talked.  After a day of fishing; a full happy tummy and some sipping tequila nothing better than fun conversation among fishing friends.

 

No one retreated to isolation unless it was to sleep or read a good book.

 

With nothing else around, darkness would come quickly.

 

But the ambience always held the congeniality of a campground as ambient laughter or the sweet smell of someone’s cigar wafted through the evening.

 

Like all fishing trips, mornings would come early.  Sometimes too early.

 

With no alarm clocks in the rooms or cell phones to set a wake-up, one of the staff would knock on your door about 4:30 a.m.  to tell you to come down for breakfast.

 

One evening, I had just gone to bed.  Having about 20 anglers there at the hotel taking one of my seminars, I was beat.

 

When you’re tired, the nights go quickly.  It seemed like I had just gone into deep sleep when I got the wake-up knock on my door.

 

I opened the door and Salvador, the night manager told me it was time to get up.  It was still dark.  Of course.

 

So, I sleepily went around from room to room and woke everyone up as was my habit when I had a group.  I then went back to my own room to get ready for the day and get down to breakfast so we could get to the boats.

 

It was then, Salvador came running frantically up to my room.  In a panic. It wasn’t 4:30 in the morning.  It was only 2 a.m.!!!!

 

Salvador’s battery-operated clock in his office had stopped.

 

Guys were already coming down with fishing gear…bleary eyes…and looking for the coffee pot.  If anyone had actually looked at their wrist watches, they’d have figured something was wrong.  But no one questioned the wake-up!

 

He and I crazily had to run around to all the room to tell everyone they could go back to bed!  We also had to tell the hotel staff as well, as they had already started cooking breakfast! Turn off the ovens and stoves! Put the eggs back in the frig.

 

There was a little grumbling and a few choice words were thrown my way, but everyone was more than happy to go back to bed.  Me included.

 

I can’t imagine that happening these days at a Hilton or a Wyndham Hotel.

 

Old Baja, back in the day.  You really had nothing, but you had everything.

Thats my story!

signature June '18 two 1

Jonathan

______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________

 


Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

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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STAY FOR DINNER! SPANISH FOOD ON THE MENU!

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Then some Mexican fishermen went missing.

 

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

 

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

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________ 

 

Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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


U.S. Mailing Address:  Tailhunter International, 8030 La Mesa Blvd. #178, La Mesa CA  91942
 

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

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

Read Full Post »

Tell Them Bring the Salad Next Time!

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PEACE OFFERING or DID THE SPANISH GET PUNKED?

NEXT TIME TELL THEM TO BRING THE SALAD INSTEAD!

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Indeed, it looks different because it is.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, the Spanish would pack up and sail away.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

We will never know.

 

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

 

I love history.

 

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________ 

 

Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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


U.S. Mailing Address:  Tailhunter International, 8030 La Mesa Blvd. #178, La Mesa CA  91942
 

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

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

Read Full Post »

FOR BETTER OR WORSE

Tony Reyes

FOR BETTER OR WORSE

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

A lot of the “opinions” started with…

 

“Back in the day…”

“I remember this time when…”

“You should have seen…”

“You would not have believed what we saw…”

 

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

 

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

 

Some incredible stories to listen to.

 

I had to agree with them…somewhat.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And then there’s the fishing.

 

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

 

What I tell folks is it’s all cyclical.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________ 

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

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942
Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico
Phones:
from USA : 626-638-3383
from Mexico: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

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

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JUST BITE ME

just bite me

JUST BITE ME!

Originally Published Week of Aug. 31, 2017 in Western Outdoor News Publications

It’s that time of the year in Baja.

 

In my opinion, nothing beats the late summer and fall for fishing.  The sunny days are long.  The waters are flat.  The non-fishing tourists and families have left to go back to school.  And the fishing just seems to ramp up.

 

Oh…and airline tickets are cheaper too!

 

More importantly…

 

The “glamour” fish seem to know it’s “showtime.”  Billfish, wahoo, bigger dorado, larger roosterfish, tuna and others play to the crowds during prime time.  It’s big boy time on all levels.

 

But, there’s some small-time players who also come to the party and can ruin a night or ruin a vacation faster than a wahoo blasting after a trolled lure.  It’s often a reality that can’t be avoided.  Or can it?

 

I’m talking about bugs…yea…creepy stinging flying annoying biting critters that can put a buzz kill (no pun intended) on a fun time really fast.

 

Mostly I’m referring to mosquitos, flies and no-see-ums (invisible biting gnats).

 

At best, they’ll pester you into submission as you slap yourself silly while trying to down your margarita; or catch a siesta on the beach; or ruin your evening with that (we’ve all been there) annoying drone in your ear followed by the inevitable bites and scratches.

 

At worst, they can cover you in bites. However, in the ultimate scenario, they can send you to the hospital with a severe case of dengue fever or other sickness.  Nothing to laugh about.

 

Here in Mexico, we call dengue fever the “broken bone flu” because it’s very painful.

 

It starts with water.

 

The summer and fall is when we get our tropical storms and rainfalls.  Water puddles and collects. By the roadside.  Little containers.  Trash.

 

Bugs lay eggs where it’s warm and wet. The heat hatches them and then they go on the hunt.  In swarms.   They search for food and pro-create other nasty critters!

 

You, sir and madam, are the perfect host!

 

You have all that unprotected exposed skin.  And you smell!

 

Perspiration. Fruity fragrances like perfume and cologne; hair products like shampoo and mousse; your sunscreen; the “spring fresh” smell of detergent in your clothes…you’re just a walking neon sign that says “Bite Me!”

 

What’s that they say about an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of pain?”  (or itch?)

 

Let’s start with basics!

 

For Pete’s sake…keep your hotel doors and windows closed or at least keep the screens closed. Keep the bad critters outside.

 

A mosquito doesn’t care that you spent $1000 bucks-a-night for that ritzy hotel room with the 700-count-thread Egyptian cotton sheets. It’s gonna buzz your ear and you know it!

 

If you’re camping, that screen isn’t called “no-see-um” screen so people can’t see you change your clothes.  It’s because the mesh is so small that the almost invisible little gnats with the mean sting can’t get through.  So take advantage of it!

 

Once no-see-um get to you, they will attack in hordes and you’ll never know what hit you.

 

They’ll bite through your hair; inside your clothes; in the crack of your you-know-what; in your ears and under your armpits and you’ll never see a single one of them.

 

I was once working a photo shoot for a magazine with a bunch of models on a beach.  Within 10 minutes of setting up, the girls and photographer were screaming back to the van covered in dozens of red itching little welts.  The girls had been bitten even inside their bikinis and in their hair and weren’t able to work for over a week.

 

Which leads me to location.

 

Flying bugs have a hard time in the wind or breeze.  Don’t set up your beach chair near the bushes or your campsite in the trees.   For the photo-shoot I mentioned above, the photographer wanted to shoot the girls on the white sands next to a grove of mangrove trees.

 

If your boat is mooring up in a cove, get up-wind from brush as well.  These bugs will fly out to your boat and create havoc.  Near one remote island, we once had to sleep in our wetsuits on deck because of the bugs.  Imagine trying to sleep in a rubber suite in 95 degree night heat.

 

Obviously too, as alluded to above, fragrances are your enemy.  Avoid them.  Almost impossible with all the chemicals we use on ourselves these days, but at least be conscious of it.  If you spill food or sugary things, likewise, clean it up.  It’s common sense, but bag of your trash.

 

Fragrances can also be your friend.

 

There’s a lot of bug repellants out there.  Fragrance is their major component.

 

I’m not a big fan of putting more chemicals on myself, but there’s some newer and better natural and organic repellants that you can purchase that work well.  Spray your clothes especially the openings.  Lighting a citronella candle or two works great as well, especially at night.

 

In a pinch, acid things like a lime will work also!

 

Gringos like to stick a lime in their beer bottles.  Well, that wasn’t created by beer company advertising.  Squeezing lime on the rim kept flies away from crawling on the bottle or rim of your glass!

 

When I have nothing else, I’ll rub some lime or lemon juice on my skin.  It’s better than nothing especially against flies!

 

Also, if you can, cover up.  Long loose sleeves help protect against sunburn as well as bugs.

 

Critters like paradise too.  And there’s more of them than you.

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________ 

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

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942
Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico
Phones:
from USA : 626-638-3383
from Mexico: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

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

Read Full Post »

WHERE THE WILD THING ARE…er…WERE

216

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.”

Read Full Post »

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