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Archive for the ‘Mexican culture’ Category

CAN’T HAVE TOO MUCH

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CAN’T HAVE TOO MUCH

Originally Published the Week of Dec 18, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

In my last column, I had written about the fact that when fishing in Mexico, live bait sometimes just isn’t available.  This can be especially true during the winter months due to weather or other variables that can’t be controlled.

 

So, what do you do?  Cancel the trip and go back to your hotel room?  Throw or troll lures all day?

 

Over the years, I’ve often been asked about bringing down frozen bait like squid.  Frankly, I never say no.  Even if there’s plenty of live bait available, if someone wants to bring some down or buy some, that’s fine by me.

 

It’s one of those things like being rich…or being too skinny…you can’t be too rich or too skinny.  Relatively speaking.

 

And in my book, bait is one of those things that it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.  I’d rather have too much than not enough.

 

To me, the best universal bait in Baja is squid.  Pretty much everything eats squid.  There are even times when squid works better than live bait.  For example, I’ve hooked some of my largest tuna, on squid.

 

Trolled, chunked, cast, jigged…it all works.  And it’s better than nothing and sometimes it’s better than anything.

 

But, you don’t just want any kind of squid.

 

Leave that frozen stuff they sell at the bait shop home.  Fresh dead squid is the best.  Believe me, fish know the difference.

 

If it’s fresh caught and never been frozen, all the better.  That would be my first choice.

 

Rather than bring it down to your Baja destination, see if one of the local markets has some fresh squid or the fish sellers at the farmer’s market in town.  It’s not only fresh, but it’s as cheap as you’ll find it short of catching your own.

 

Absent that, if you’re bringing some from home, again hit up the fresh stuff from the seafood market or fish counter at the supermarkt.  If it has to be frozen stuff, make sure it’s table quality squid that’s for human consumption.

 

To bring it down, you’ll have to freeze it anyway.  If you have a vacuum sealer, great. If not, use small ziplock-style freezer bags and portion it out, so you use only what you need for the day.

 

There’s nothing worse than defrosting a 5-pound chunk of frozen squid on a boat in an ice chest, bait tank or…in the sun!!!

 

It’s not only going to make a stinky mess, but at the end of the day, you’ll have issues with the un-used squid and storing the goopy glop for the next day’s fishing.

 

Year’s ago, I had some fishing clients who forgot their defrosted squid in the trunk of their rental car.  By the time they remembered it, it was late and after a few dinner margaritas.

 

They figured it would be OK.  It was night.

 

Well, nights in Baja are still 85 degrees and the plastic bag leaked right into the trunk carpeting…right under the rear seats and into the floorboards.

 

Come morning, they couldn’t even get into the rental car without gagging.  Good thing they bought insurance!

 

Once you have the squid ready to use, there’s no end to the techniques.

 

Slow troll a whole squid behind the boat.

 

Pin a whole squid or strips of squid to a trolling lure for scent and action and drag it behind the boat.

 

Pin some on a lure and cast or jig with it.

 

Send some down on a hook with a weight, dropper loop style, and a half-dozen reef beasts will be all over it including, pargo, cabrilla, grouper, snapper and more.

 

Chunk with it.

 

Cut it into chunks and toss handfuls into a slow current as you drift.  In the middle of the sinking chunks bait up another chunk of whole squid on a hook.

 

With your line slack and in freespool, let your baited hook drift down with the rest of the chunks.  This is a dynamite way to get hooked up.

 

Keep your line slack and in freespool so it stays with the rest of the chunks.  If your line suddenly starts ripping up, remember “dead bait doesn’t swim.” Flip the brake and set the hook!

 

There’s some fish, like dorado, that specifically like live bait. Dead stuff doesn’t get them too interested unless they are already in a frenzy.

 

But, you can use the chunked squid as chum. It gets the dorado coming to the boat so you can toss a lure or a whole squid and them and “swim” it back to the boat.

 

You can also cut up and pulverize a bunch of squid and make a chum bucket using a small mesh bag hung over the side of the boat or weighted down and hung at depth to attract fish.

 

If you want to supercharge it, add in some commercially bought fish scent to the bag as well.  It’ll leave a nice slick of scent in the water and you never know what might show up!

 

If you have limited live bait, there’s one really nifty trick I learned years ago from one of my captains.  You can put a live bait into the body cavity of a squid.  It will swim!  Just put a hook into it and let it do it’s stuff.

 

And, as a fallback…if all else fails!

 

Fresh squid great deep fried or made into calamari salad!

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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.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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NOT A SURE THING

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Bait…it is what it is and you make the best of it!

NOT A SURE THING

Originally Published the Week of Dec. 4, 2018, in Western Outdoor Publications

With the cooler months descending rapidly over the Baja, a fisherman recently asked me, “Where’s all the live bait that was around all summer?”

 

Good question.  In many areas, live bait gets harder to acquire during the winter months and for good reason.

 

Many “warm month” fishermen who visit Baja assume that bait is ALWAYS around and ALWAYS available to either catch or purchase. They come down in the other times of the year and it’s a different ballgame.

 

For many reasons.

 

First, it’s the weather and conditions.  During the cooler months in the Baja, winds are stronger.  There’s a lot more wave action and rougher water.

 

As many of you regulars know, there are some days when it’s impossible to launch a panga.  Even in a big cruiser, you can go out and just get beat up getting tossed and bounced on an angry ocean.

 

Maybe in my younger days, I’d be out there.  I’m older and smarter now.  Fishing is supposed to be fun…especially in Baja.

 

It’s not an exercise in endurance.  So much nicer to hang out at the pool with a cold one and work on that tan!

 

But those same waves and winds batter the bait areas.  Bait tends to stick together, especially if you’re talking sardines or mackerel.  It’s all about survival.

 

To that end, they like shallow sheltered areas or areas where there’s structure be it rocks, reefs, docks, floating objects and similar. Or at least shallow areas along a beach or bay where they can feed, breed and not be subjected to as many predators.

 

If waves are crashing on those beaches or smashing into rocks and docks or currents are impeding their abilities to stay together, they’ll find somewhere else.

 

Or, alternatively, they’re so scattered so they’re difficult to locate and catch.

 

I often get fishing clients who say, “Two years ago, we caught tons of bait over by the wreck,” or “The south end of the island had tons of bait according to the reports.”

 

“How come we don’t go there to get bait?”

 

Or. . .

“Why is it taking so long to catch bait now?  It was easy last July!”

 

Yes, bait moves, amigos!

 

If there was someplace easier to find or easier to catch, don’t you think we’d be doing it? Duh.

 

Some folks think it’s like a big bait receiver out there in the ocean and you just take a big dip net; throw net; or Lucky Joe rig and get all you want.

 

Like going through the drive-through at McDonald’s.  You order.  You drive up.  No big deal.  It’s not like that.

 

There’s another aspect of the bait dilemma as well.  It’s the human element.

 

If the bait sellers are having a hard time finding bait, it’s gonna take awhile for them to get enough to sell.

 

Or, maybe that’s ALL they might have to sell for the day.  And their prices will be…well…whatever their prices will be.

 

It’s a seller’s market.

 

Better to “light one candle than curse the darkness” is the old saying.  You take what you can get and make the best of it.

 

If you have to wait, you wait.  If you can only get a handful of bait, you go with it. You pay the going-rate.

 

You’re not going to pay a couple thousand on a fishing trip then argue because bait costs $30 instead of $20.  If the bait guy doesn’t sell it to you, the next guy will surely take it.

 

What are you going to do, go fishing with no bait?  Troll all day?

 

You can’t get mad at the poor bait guy who’s been working all morning or night doing his best to have enough to sell. He needs to make a living too.

 

Sure, it’s frustrating.  However, believe me, getting angry with the bait guy, your captain or your outfitter won’t make bait magically appear.

 

 

The other aspect to remember is that if the bait is hard to get, the bait guys may feel it’s not even worth going out.  Why waste the energy?  No one likes to work for small returns on effort.

 

Conversely, during the winter, there’s a lot fewer fishermen on the water.

 

The bait guys might not go out at all if there’s no one to buy their bait in the morning.  You might just have shown up on one of those days. It’s like getting rained on the day YOU decide to go fishing.  No one to blame.

 

 

So, just either be patient or go with whatever is happening.  You might find yourself catching your own bait or using something unusual like chunks of bonito or squid.  Or trolling.

 

It is what it is. You’re still in Baja.  You’re not at work.  You’re not at your desk or whatever you do.  There’s worse places to be.

 

 

In the next column, I’ll chat about some ways to fish dead bait like squid.

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.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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REALITY CHECK

REALITY CHECK

Originally Published the Week of Nov. 13, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

If you spend anytime watching U.S. news or surfing the internet, listening to the radio, or social media, it doesn’t take much to figure the U.S. has a lot of problems.  Yikes.

 

If you even got a smidgen of the TV ads for the recent elections, it was an inundation of mind-boggling battering.  It was numbing.  I happened to be in the U.S. for just two days for a family emergency and it was inescapable.

 

Jill and I still vote (absentee ballot) of course from down here in Baja.  But it’s easy to say at times, “Dang, I’m glad I live in Mexico!”

 

And we do. And we’re blessed.

 

But it wasn’t to escape anything back home in the U.S.  Indeed, we miss the heck out’ve it.  But, through a weird and convoluted series of happenstance, this is where work took me and the business just grew.

 

In fact, I was on my way out of Baja, but it grabbed me by the ankles…pulled me back… and wouldn’t let go.

 

And before I knew it two decades had passed.  And we’re still here.  Funny how careers are made.

 

But, we’re not far removed from being reminded how especially fortunate we are.  Despite all of America’s plethora of problems and shares of idiots, there’s a reason folks are desperate to get in.

 

I mean, I don’t see caravans of people from Chicago trying to bust into Mexico or people from Seattle trying to smuggle themselves into China.

 

We love our many friends and employees here and I have watched their kids grow over the years.  And I wonder what opportunity awaits.

What opportunity lies ahead when 6th grade is the highest level of mandatory education here in Mexico?  Or, even a college degree down here means you’re now qualified to work at the reception desk in a hotel.   Is that really it?

 

I know kids that honestly “aspire” to flip burgers at Burger King.   The bar is not very high.

 

Can you imagine, “When I grow up, I hope to learn to work at McDonalds.”

 

American tourists toss 20-dollar bills around while on vacation.

 

I doubt many of them realize that twenty bucks is 3-days wages for many Mexicans.  Most earn less than 10-dollars-a-day and probably paid 4 dollars to ride the bus to get to work and back home.  And probably having to feed a family.

 

Your own kid working that summer job at Dairy Queen is probably making 100 bucks a day for “spending money.” Not to buy food or pay the family rent.

 

Just the other day, I heard a gringo complain that he had been “ripped off” by a street vendor who didn’t have 75 cents change in American.  C’mon, Man.

 

We know a friend who just found out she has breast cancer.  Serious.  It took a MONTH between the biopsy and diagnosis and the cancer had grown tremendously.

 

But there’s no openings for surgery for THREE months. And even then, the date might come up and there might not be a surgeon available.

 

A death sentence. But, there are no other options.

 

And she’s “lucky.”

 

She has government-provided socialized “medical insurance.”

 

It means everyone has the right to medical care in Mexico.  It just doesn’t necessarily mean you get it “right now” when you need it or the right kind of treatment.

 

If you live in the outlying areas as many folks do, medical treatment means you also have to  travel to a doctor.  I asked one of our captains many years ago what do you do if you can’t get to a doctor?

 

He said sadly, “We just die.”

 

As many of you know, we drive a beat- up Honda down here.  I’m not proud. It’s a junker. But it goes forward and reverse. And the air-conditioning works…sometimes.  At a whisper and often blows dust in our faces.

 

Recently the door handle just fell off.  So, we duct taped it back in place,  You get the idea.

 

Although not stylish, we have the means to get from Point A to Point B.

 

As long as it’s not far.  Or involve hills.  We cannot make the 100-mile drive from La Paz to Cabo San Lucas without overheating.

 

Everyone has a car back home in the U.S.  Or even more than one car.  Last time in Los Angeles, I was  stuck 2 ½ hours driving 20 miles.

 

But, a car here is a luxury.  And we know it.  There are times when we have not had a car and it restricted every aspect of our life.

 

There were several of those early years here in Baja that I did not have a car.  I relied on two legs, my thumb or a generous friend.

 

People make fun of Mexican cars, mine included.  But, it sure beats not having one at all.

 

Back-in-the-day in the U.S., it was a right-of-passage at 16 to get that driver’s license and get a car, no matter how hard you had to work for it.

 

Most adults I know down here do not have a driver’s license. Or know how to drive.

 

What for?  They will never own or have a car in their lifetimes.

 

If you do own one..insurance? Maintenance? They can barely afford gas.  So, make all the fun you want.

 

I was bitching a few days ago because our apartment (once again) did not have hot water.  About 20% of the time, we don’t have hot water.

 

I guess you get used to it, but after a long day, you look forward to that shower and instead, there’s only cold water…it gets old.

 

I was going on-and-on to a friend.  He just smiled then said, “Our house never has hot water.”

 

“Never? “

 

“Not ever. “

 

“How do you shower?  Cook?  Wash clothes?”

 

“Nunca. Never, Jonathan. And sometime no electricity either.”  He shrugged and smiled.

 

“You get used to it.”

 

End of conversation. I shut up.  You take something for granted and you just assume that everyone has it.

 

Reality check and you say a little prayer of gratitude.

 

Oh…by the way, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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“I’m Jack from the Board of Tourism!”

“I’M JACK FROM THE BOARD OF TOURISM!”

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

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“I wish I had a pencil thin mustache

The Boston Blackie kind

A two-tone Ricky Ricardo jacket

And an autograph picture of Andy Devine”

 

  • “Pencil-Thin Mustache” by Jimmy Buffett

 

 

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

 

I called him Jack.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jack’s background was ideal.

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Not Jack.

 

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

 

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

 

Always laughing, he was everyone’s favorite.

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Who doesn’t like flowers?

 

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

 

And, the ladies would all tumble!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“And then another cruise ship would arrive…”

 

“That was me, Mr. Tourism!”

 

That’s my story!

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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SHOPPING FOR ONE

 

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SHOPPING FOR ONE IN MEXICO

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 24, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

 

The times they are a-changing.

 

Jilly just sent me down to our corner mercado a few blocks away to pick up some things for home.  It’s your usual typical Mexican neighborhood market.

 

All the basics are there.  Meat, milk, tortillas, fruits and veggies.  They might not have 30 different kinds of mayonnaise or mustard like back in the U.S. but, they’ve got 3 or 4 to get you by.

 

But, little-by-little, I’m noticing some real changes in the aisles and shelves.  And it’s indicative of the changing culture and tastes of the locals.

 

Gluten-free tortillas?

Lactose free almond milk?

Non-GMO organic parmesan and cheddar cheese?

Basil…mint leaves…portabello mushrooms?

 

Are you kidding me?  But yea.  How long until there’s a sushi counter?

 

Back-in-the-day, I remember having to “smuggle” in stuff like ordinary cheese…Polish sausage…mushrooms…steaks…wasabi for sashime…Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage…bottles of wine!

 

All the things you couldn’t get back then and craved.  All of us would bring things down for our friends and neighbors too.  Everyone got a turn at being the “burro.”

 

Personally, I would bury the treasure deep in my luggage or ice chest.  Always put it under your underwear.  No custom inspector ever goes below the lair of underwear!

 

Or put a layer of women’s hygiene products over it.  It worked every time.  Inspectors stopped digging immediately! You’d watch them rustle around but when they hit the layer of underwear or sanitary pads…they’d look up at you.  Smile.  Close your luggage or ice chest and move onto the next person.

 

Of course, this was all pre-911.

 

But nowadays, you don’t have to bury booty in your luggage.  You can find almost anything.  It’s a little pricier, but when you really have to have extra virgin olive oil…well…

 

It’s a far cry from my first “shopping experience” more than 20 years ago, when I moved to a little pueblo south of the East Cape.  It was really not much more than a concrete block house on a dirt road.

 

The owners lived in the back.  A kids bicycle was propped against an outer wall. I had to step over the family dog who could care less except for his siesta.

 

But, it had a sun-faded sign that said, “Mini-Super San Juanita”and there weren’t many other choices.

 

Bare concrete floors housed some shelves and tables while some lightbulbs strung from the ceiling provided light in the windowless room.

 

Crates and 5-gallon buckets on a table held the fruit and vegetables of the day in varying degrees of ripeness.  Especially in the hot Baja climate.

 

Six potatoes…several dozen tomatoes…3 or 4 bunches of rather dark bananas…1/2 a bucket of white onions…5 heads of soft lettuce.  No worries about an artificial waxy “sheen” on the apples.  There was a soft layer of dust on everything.

 

A cold case held the really important stuff.  Of course, lots of Coke and bottles and cans of Tecate beer.  Plus lots of other sugary soft drinks.

 

Another cold case had cold cuts and some varying types of cheese and meats. The the only ones I could identify were hot dogs.

 

Not to say the meat was bad.  As I found out over the months, it was actually not too bad at all.  But, just at that moment I certainly couldn’t identify it as it was wrapped in plastic wrap with no labels.  The flickering light in the case also glowed over a couple flats of eggs.

 

Shelves had the usual staples.  Some cans of soups and sauces and vegetables.  Soap and shampoo.  Spam and of course, cups of Maruchan noodles.  And lots of candy and junk food.

 

Insofar as I lived 10 miles outside of the little village down a dirt road, I picked what I needed and proceeded to the register where a smiling lady (presumably Juanita ?) helped me out.

 

I needed something from the chilled meat counter.

 

That’s when I think I made her day.

 

I asked for eggs.

 

She said “How many, Senor?”

 

“A dozen, por favor.”

 

“Verdad?  Really? More than one?” She perked up.

“Uh… por favor. Claro!  Sure!”  

 

She explained to me that most people only buy 2 or 3 at a time.  She rang it up.

 

I also wanted some of that wrapped cheese too.

 

She handed me one slice.  And rang it up.  One slice.

 

I wanted the whole pack please!

 

Another big smile.  Cha-ching.  She rang up 10 slices of yellow cheese.

 

I also wanted to buy some hot dogs.  She went back to the case.  Took a knife.  Cut it open and pulled out…ONE hot dog.  Cold and wet!

 

I smiled back as she handed it to me on a piece of wax paper.

 

Uh…hmm…” Todos por favor.” 

“All of them. Can I have the whole pack of hot dogs?”

 

“Claro, senor! Of course!”

 

Seeing the bemused confusion on my face, she explained that most folks can only afford one hot dog…maybe one egg or two…a slice of cheese…even one cigarette or just one beer at a time.

 

I pretty much cut her inventory in half!

 

But, I think I made her day when I said that I also needed some paper.  I had eyed a stack of stationery behind the counter that included…you guessed it…individual pens…pencils…erasers and a ream of paper.

 

She picked up the ream and pulled out…one sheet! A single piece of paper.

 

I told her that I needed about 50 sheets!  It was her eyes that got wide this time.  She meticulously counted out…25…26…27… 28…

 

Fifty sheets of paper and put them in a zip lock bag for me and rang it up.

 

“Adios, Senor, come back soon!”

 

I walked out the door into the bright dusty sunshine with two bags of groceries that would hopefully hold me for a week.

 

I un-wrapped one slice of cheese and one cold hot dog and started to munch.

 

With a smile, I stepped over the sleeping dog.  Who still couldn’t care less.

 

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 http://www.tailhunter.com. They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz Malecon waterfront. If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com
Or drop by the restaurant to say hi. It’s right on the beach!
_____________
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International

Website:
http://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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Old-Car-Mexico

PLEASE STEAL MY CAR!

Originally published the Week of Aug. 11, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

So, this morning, I was checking out my “new car” here in La Paz. Proudly, I might add.

You see, unlike back in the states, where everyone has several vehicles in their driveway, in Mexico where most people do NOT own even a bicycle or depend on two legs or public transportation, we have a car. One car.

It’s a privilege. It’s independence.

In the times when we were without a car or our car was “in the shop” it puts a real crimp in the lifestyle. Try running several businesses from several locations without transportation.

Imagine your own lifestyle if you had no car. It’s a pain in the rumble seat that we often take for granted.

Anyway, our new ride is a dandy.

It’s ONLY 16-years-old.

It’s a Honda CRV. The sun has taken most of its’ paint. Tires look like they still have a bit of tread on it. Three hubcaps. One blinker light broken.

The after-market radio doesn’t fit. It is held into the dashboard with two metal shims wedged into the sides of the radio to keep it from falling into the dark void behind the dashboard.

The A/C barely whispers and it tries hard to lower the ambient temperature. But, the windows do roll down. Not always a given.

And the car runs. Sort of. It over-heats on hills and long drives. Might need a new radiator. Or not. We just won’t take long drives over hills!

In 23 years here, I’ve had 4 cars. I’ve never had a new one. No 4WD desert beast. No fancy SUV. Just basic Baja transportation.

New cars are expensive. New cars get beat up by the desert, sand, salt and water. Baja roads take their toll. It carries fishing gear, ice chests, groceries for the restaurant and so much more. Every day.

So, we keep it simple.

We got the car from a guy. Who knows a guy. Who knows a local police officer. Who knows a guy that imports old cars from the U.S. Cash only. It may or may not have papers.

If you ever want to know where old American cars and trucks go when even the used-car dealer doesn’t want them, look to Mexico. Or cars that get written off by insurance companies after disaster like Hurricane Katrina where all the vehicle get submerged…well…they’re all down here!

So, we buy our car from wherever. Whomever.

One of my cars only had 3 seats in it. And two windows didn’t work. Another only 2 doors that worked and had two different colored carpets in it.

Our last vehicle was 12 years ago.

It was purchased from a guy who desperately needed to leave town! Like RIGHT NOW! He already had a ticket for the ferry boat to mainland Mexico and said ultimately he needed to get to Guatemala.

So, he had to sell the car TODAY!  Please!  Not tomorrow!  Young kid who looked like someone might be after him. He wanted 8 grand.

The car was an ancient Range Rover.

It actually had papers, but without time to inspect it and only time to test drive it around the block, I told him no way I’d pay 8 grand. He pleaded. He had no choice. The ferry boat was leaving in a few hours.

We went back and forth. I got him down to $1500! From 8 grand. At that point, my wife said, not to take further advantage of the situation. He gratefully took the money…and ran!

And that’s how we get our cars.

We take them to “Fernando the Mechanic” who jury-rigs all the taxi drivers in town and can get cars running with duct tape and baling wire. He can make anything run for pesos and a case of beer.

He works out’ve his house. Little dead-end road near the arroyo. His wife runs a beauty salon in their living room. Fernando has the rest of the house. All the dogs in the neighborhood hang out there and the taxi drivers drink beer while they all visit and Fernando fixes their cars.

And off we go. Bouncing, creaking and rambling along.

And whenever something happens, Fernando can usually fix it.

Hehehehe…Sometimes we register it. Sometimes not.

You see the DMV down here is sometimes open. Sometimes not. You can wait for days. Sometimes you can wait months for registrations or license plates. So, lots of people drive illegally.

The cops know it’s tough to go through the DMV. So they’re pretty lenient most of the time. Live and let live.

So, we take our cars and use them! No coddling. Our cars are true Baja Burros.

When something, breaks, we call Fernando.

When the time comes and there’s simply no fixing our car any longer or not worth it, we literally ask someone to steal it!

We sometime just leave it where it had its last gasp or we get it to some back street corner.

We leave the keys in it. Doors unlocked. Windows down.

And it’s always gone the next day! SURPRISE! Hehehehe…

Some poor schmuck found a way to make it run or towed it. Or he used donkeys to haul it away! And now it’s HIS problem! Someone else thought they could make it run again. God bless ‘em.

I don’t have to haul it. I don’t have to junk it!

We never report it. Sometimes it’s not registered so no big deal.

I’ve seen one or two of our cars from time-to-time around town.

One old mini-van was in someone’s yard up on blocks being used as a dog house. Another was stopped on the side of the road with the hood up and the guy was pouring water into the radiator.

And I just smile. Glad someone was able to use it.

We find another car and start over.

Life in Mexico!

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

P8100023

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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