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Archive for the ‘mexican food’ 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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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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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.”

 

 

Read Full Post »

Speaking Spanish

ADVENTURES IN SPEAKING SPANISH

Originally Published the Week of. Aug. 15, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

Among the many goofy signs hanging on the walls in our Tailhunter Restaurant in La Paz. One reads:

“TU ERES UN PENDEJO!”
(You are my friend!)

For the unsuspecting, if you don’t understand Spanish, it really means “You are an idiot.” Hehehehe…

After more than 2 decades down here, I’m kinda proud that I sort of have a handle on Spanish. By the same token, I regret that I’m not better at it. I should be fluent.

I think I have a good ear for it. I can parrot it back. It might not always be grammatically correct, but I can get my meaning across. My problem is that I don’t understand it as well as I should. So, sometimes I fake it.

If you’ve ever listened to a native Spanish speaking person or, better yet, tried to listen to your captain talking on the radio or even listening to a Spanish radio station…HOLY COW…it sounds like one continuous word!

I pretend I understand!

I’m sure English sounds the same to a native speaker also.

On the other hand, my wife Jill is fearless with the language. She understands Spanish way better than myself. She doesn’t speak Spanish as well. But, she doesn’t care. She goes for it. She just talks!

I wish I was more like her.

I still find myself having to think about what I want to say. Formulating in my small brain how to properly articulate it…then, I say it.

But, I’ve had my ups-and-downs.

Like many of us, I had Spanish classes in high school. I even had several college semesters of it. But, I couldn’t talk my way out’ve a Taco Bell.

To learn a language, you really have to live the language where you “think” in Spanish. I’m getting better.

But, you see, I pick up my Spanish from the folks I’m surrounded by on a daily basis. Those are my employees, my fishing captains and my drivers.

That’s a bit like someone who learns English working on the shipping docks, fishing boats or construction sites.

My Spanish reflects that.

And, since my “teachers” don’t exactly instruct me from some language book, my conversation innocently often comes out “unfiltered” and I’ve had some awkward social moments.

For example, caballo is a horse. Cebolla is an onion. I once asked the waiter for some “grilled horse” on my hamburger. You can imagine his face.

Worse yet, on a different occasion, I thought another waiter was going to bust-a-gut  laughing.  Cola is a tail. As in “lobster tail.” Culo is slang for a certain rear  human orifice. Yup…THAT one.

People sometimes curse and call someone a “culero.”  Like the guy who cuts you off in traffice and calling him a “jerk” is too mild.  You get the idea.

I was invited to dinner and the clients told me to order whatever I wanted. This was in the early days. Wow…whatever I want? Really?

So, I whipped out my Spanish and asked the waiter for the “culo de langosta” (lobster orifice). With melted butter of course!

The waiter grinned…took a breath to compose himself… and very nicely corrected me.

“Culo is not on the menu but we do have COLA de langosta!” He probably went back into the kitchen and told his buddies, “BAHAHAHA…You’re not gonna believe what some guy just ordered…”

I’ve had some fun with it too. Especially as I got better.

I”ll have some young guys down here who are going out on the town a bit.

I’ll say, “You guys want to great pick up line for the senoritas? Would like to know how to ask a girl to dance?

Absolutely!

“Walk up to a girl and very politely say, ‘Dame una nalgada.’”

I make them practice that phrase. Over and over. Lock it in! The girls will really love it!

The phrase really means “Give me a spanking.”

Yea, my mom and dad always said I had a rascal streak in me!

I get some funny comments and looks the next morning. Mostly taken all in good fun.

The best honestly, however, is listening to tourists try out their Spanish. God bless ‘em for the effort. It’s appreciated.

It’s one thing to order a plate of tacos and pronounce it “TAY-koe” instead of “TAH-koe.” I get it.

But, especially owning a restaurant and fishing fleet and often the visitors do two things.

For one, they will add “El” to the beginning of everything. And they will add “O” to the end of every word.

So giving Spanish their best shot, “I want a taxi to take me to the hotel” becomes “I want-O an el-taxi-O to take me-O to the el hotel-O.”

Definitely an “A” for effort. Bravo!

Or conversely, when a local doesn’t understand the tourist, the tourist just says it louder the next time . And then louder again!

Right. Maybe if I just say it even louder I’ll be understood!

In all honesty, I love Spanish. I love being able to speak it and I envy those who have mastered it where it just rolls so smoothly on command like so many other gringos who have re-located here.

I’ve taken my Spanish to other countries and I’m pretty proud of it.

In Costa Rica, I was asked “Where did you learn your Spanish?” I told them I lived I Baja, Mexico. They said, “Well, you have an accent!”

Wow! Me? I have an accent? Right on. Give me a high-five!

But yes…there’s different dialects of Spanish too. Kinda like “English spoken by people in Great Britain compared to Alabama compared to Massachusetts compared to Australia.

Spanish in Spain is different from Mexico City. It’s different in Baja. It’s different in East Los Angeles!

Knowing another language is a wonderful ability.   It’s like having a super power.

It’s like knowing a secret code that will open so many doors to communication and understanding. It’s one of my most valued treasures. I keep practicing and learning.

Five new vocabulary words a week.

Next time you come visit, don’t be afraid to use it! If we don’t understand. Just say it louder!

Andale! Viva Mexico, Cabrones!

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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FACE EXPRESSION

CHEEKS, BEAKS & EYEBALLS

Originally Published the Week of May 23, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

Traveling and/ or living in another country has a way of expanding one’s horizons on so many levels.  It’s impossible to immerse yourself in another geography, climate, language or, in the case of Mexico,  another culture and travel in a vacuum.

 

I’ve never been too picky about my food.  I generally eat about everything.  But still…everyone draws the line somewhere, right?

 

Do you ever watch the popular Food or Travel Channels on TV?  And you watch the hosts travel the world eating (to us!) strange, bizarre and sometimes squeamish food?

 

Well, I’m here writing this week’s column.  And just a few hours ago, I was  hacking at a goat carcass with a butcher knife with perhaps more gusto than I would ever imagine.

 

Friends had gifted us a whole butchered goat and now here I was slicing ribs, loins and chops surrounded by my employees.  Everyone was anticipating who was going to receive which piece.  Like slicing birthday cake in front of kids!

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I was gonna put a photo of goat’s head in the soup, but nah…

 

The head, neck and eyeballs were especially prized for… Yes…”goathead soup” and other parts would be “headed” towards delicious “Birria” (goat stew).  Or maybe to the grill or chopped for tacos!  Everyone had a family recipe!

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I changed my mind!

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It’s about how you dress it up!

It sounds funky, but with the head in the boiling pot with garlic, cilantro, onions and other vegetables, it’s quite a treat.  You’re living large down here when you dip a hot tortilla into it and shovel it into your mouth!

 

Twenty years ago, who woulda thought?

 

My agrarian family back home in the hills of Hawaii would have been proud to see their kid with couple of college degrees and who used to wear a suit and tie slicing and carving away.  With some pretty good skill, if I say so myself!

 

But, there’s a lot of things that I don’t think twice about anymore.  Things that I would have rolled my eyes at years ago if they hit my plate, now get my hunger pangs off to the races.

 

Often, they’re things that make our tourist visitors wince!

 

For example, after fishing, we cut and clean fish for our clients and nicely pack their fillets to take home.  But, the aftermath of heads and body parts is a shame.

 

My captains and I actually laugh and sometimes playfully argue over “dividing the spoils” left by the clients.

 

The entire heads of snapper, pargo, seabass (cabrilla) and others are highly prized for soup.  The ten-pound head of a big dog-tooth snapper has lots of normally wasted meat.

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Here’s lookin’ at you! 

Throw it on the barbecue or into the soup pot and it’ll feed a family and all the neighbors!  Of course, the abuelo (grandfather) always gets the cheeks and eyeballs!

 

The same with the collars and bellies.  Tuna and dorado “pechos” can’t be beat on the grill.  I’m not talking about the stomach and innards.

I’m talking about the chest area of the fish and the long strip of flesh under the fish.  It’s the sweetest part of the animal in the same way salmon collars in Alaska are highly treasured.

 

I will sometimes get a bunch of leftover collars and bellies and grill them at our Tailhunter Restaurant and serve them as free appetizers to our guests.  It blows them away when they find out it’s the stuff they left on the beach that day!

 

Other examples of fish I usually see thrown away…

 

Bonito!  Yes, that dark oily relative of the tuna family.  Great sport, but a strong flavored meat that’s often released or used for bait.  Try chilling it.  Slice some loin very thin and make “Baja Sashime.”

bomito

Look dark.  Tastes pretty good!

Drizzle some fresh lime juice on it.  Splash it with some soy sauce.  Mince some fresh jalapenos on it and let it chill in the frig for 15 minutes.  Serve it like you would any sashimi with ginger and wasabi. Or not!  It’s pretty good as is!

 

Another is triggerfish.  For years, I threw it back or gave it away.  These pesky reef fish have an incredible hard jaw and their skin is almost like rawhide prompting locals to give it the name of “bootfish” because it’s so tough.

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Just add saltine crackers for ceviche!

However, it yields a tasty flaky-white fillet that makes great ceviche and is one of my favorites when it’s battered and deep-fried golden.  Perfect for fish tacos and you can feed a lot of folks with battered fish.

 

Sierra Mackerel is another one of those fish I tossed away for years.  How can anything that has “mackerel” attached to it be any good?  I think of dark, oily strong-tasting meat.

 

But, actually, sierra meat is silky pink and white.  It’s actually related to it’s cousin the much-sought-after wahoo.  Sierra is the smaller cousin and, in season, you can catch ‘em by the load.

 

Cooked up, it is incredibly tender.  A bowl of sierra ceviche with some crackers and tortilla chips will set you back 10 bucks in a restaurant down here.

 

And finally, let’s not forget the taco stands!

 

Anyone can serve up carne asada, chorizo or carnitas tacos.

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Pig cheeks!  It’s not quite the other white meat! 

But, a couple of my favorite stands down here serve,  grilled sizzling pork or cow cheeks.  Or deep fried cow knuckles and joints.

 

Ask around and you’ll also find the real “gourmet” stands that serve tongue and brain tacos as well.  And they’re awfully popular.

 

It takes a bit to get used to, but I can chow with anyone now.  Besides, here in Mexico, everything tastes good when washed down with an icy beer.

 

So, next time you’re down, don’t wince.  Give it a try.  Walk on the wild side!

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

______________

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

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

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 
www.tailhunter-international.com

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


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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

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

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BAJA SMORGASBORD

Victor rack 4-18 tags

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

BAJA SMORGASBORD

Originally Published the Week of April 24 in Western Outdoor Publications

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

 

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

 

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

 

Just one of those awesome spring days in Mexico.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This offers some incredible challenges to anglers.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

 

Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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


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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

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

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STAY FOR DINNER! SPANISH FOOD ON THE MENU!

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Then some Mexican fishermen went missing.

 

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

 

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

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

 

Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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


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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

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

Read Full Post »

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