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Archive for the ‘Mexico Christmas’ Category

When Fishing Is Not So A-Peeling!

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When Fishing Is Not So A-Peeling!

Originally Published the Week of Feb. 1, 2019 in Western Outdoor Publications

“Life is full of banana skins. You slip, you carry on.”
—Daphne Guinness

It’s been about 15 years since I last wrote about a subject that seems to keep popping up. And lately, I’ve had several folks ask about it.

Most folks say they’re not superstitious.

But, they’ll still wear their raggedy “good luck” basketball socks. They refuse to throw away their best bowling shirt.

Do you still have a pair of “tidy-whitey” underwear in your drawer that’s you won’t throw away even if it has no more elastic and your wife nags you about it?

Do you refuse to open your eyes when your team’s kicker lines up for the game-winning field goal because it’s “bad luck?” Still have your bloody-splattered fishing t-shirt from when you were in college when you were 100 pounds lighter?

So, what’s the deal about bad luck bananas and fishing?

To some, it’s just something to goof with and talk smack about.

I’ve seen guys “plant” bananas in their buddy’s tackle box or fishing boots. I’ve seen guys tie a banana on hotel-room doors or toss a banana onto a buddy’s boat.

To other’s it’s deadly serious. It’s grounds for fighting words and coming to blows.

I’ve seen boats catch fire. Bananas were later found in the galley.

I’ve been on boats where everyone is catching fish except the boat with bananas but start catching fish when bananas were tossed overboard.

I was working as a deckhand where a guy broke his leg in a freak accident . Bananas were in an ice chest on deck. Another time a guy had to be air-lifted after having a heart attack on a boat that had bananas.

If bananas were found in the galley of any boat that I worked on or had chartered they were quickly discarded or discreetly “disappeared” at night when the boat was underway.

Rumor has it that Fruit of the Loom underwear used to have a banana on their label, but the banana was eliminated.

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So, what’s the source of the superstitious myth?

There’s a number of theories.

Bananas Stink

Back in the days of sailing ships, fresh fruit and vegetables were pretty important. Having bananas aboard, the bananas ripen pretty quickly and emit a gas and odor that can quickly ruin the food stores of a crew. Lacking fresh produce on those long voyages could lead to malnourishment at best. At worst, death.

No Slowing Down

The fact that bananas ripen quite quickly could also give credence to the lack of fish caught on board. Speed was essential to cargo ships carrying bananas.

Normal ships could travel at regular speeds. Often crews would fish to supplement their diets and the diets of passengers.

Banana boats did not have that luxury. They had to scoot. No slowing down to troll. It was essential to get from point A to point B.

Word got out that you didn’t want to crew or travel on a ship carrying bananas because those ships “never caught fish!” Seems logical.

Hidden Critters
Bunches of bananas could often hide snakes, spiders and other creepy-crawlers that could get loose aboard a ship. Many areas in Africa also were home to a voracious wood-eating termite that could get loose when bananas were brought about those old wooden sailing ships.

A Dark Chapter

If you remember your history, banana boats were often used as slave ships. If you suddenly woke up manacled, crowded and in a dark place smelling of bananas, life was about to take a turn for the worse.

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Davey’s Locker

Similarly, bananas float. When a ship would sink, among other things, floating bananas would often be indicative of the final resting place of a vessel.

Here’s another one…

Good to Be King

From my part of the world where my family originated, in Hawaii, only royalty were permitted to have bananas. A commoner found in possession of bananas could be grounds for execution…the ultimate bad luck!

So, what do you think?

I’m not superstitious, but you’d still better not bring bananas on any boat that I’m on! Why tempt luck?

That’s my story~!

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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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One Star

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ONE STAR

Originally Published the Week of  Dec. 30, 2018 in Wester Outdoor Publications 

 

It was my first Christmas in Baja almost 25 years ago.

 

It wasn’t where I really wanted to be.  At least, not at that time of the year.  Not really at that particular point in my life either.  But there I was.

 

Sitting on my beat-up plastic ice chest.  In the dark.  In the moonlight on a chilly desert evening that was doing it’s best to creep through my thin sweatshirt and grungy army surplus pants.

 

I was in Baja.  Kind of in the middle of nowhere.  At night just off a lonely stretch of road not far outside a small fishermen’s pueblo.

 

Pretty much outta gas, outta money  and out’ve prospects.  And almost outta batteries in my flashlight.  Great.  Just great.

 

When morning hit, all I knew was that I’d be headed down the road to somewhere that only tomorrow knew.

 

Obviously, I also knew that I wasn’t going to be coming home for Christmas.  Because well…for the time being,  my mini-van was home.  Right here.  Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine that I’d be in Mexico for Christmas.

 

Pulled off the shoulder on an empty highway.

 

My Christmas “dinner” that night was a sumptuous feast of canned chicken soup cooked on my single burner camp stove.  Washed down with the last warm Coke I had sloshing in the melted ice water of my cooler.

 

And tonite, like many nights lately, I’d be hunkered in my old mini-van.  Living large.

 

I unrolled my sleeping bag and shook it to make sure no critters had crawled in.  The winter nights are cold, windy and clear in the desert.

 

Sleeping in the van stretched out among my gear wasn’t luxury. It was a necessity.

 

“Come to sunny Mexico!” say the brochures.  “It’ll be fun!” they said.  “It’ll be WARM!” they said.  Someone screwed that up.  Mostly me. Plans had gone catawompus…left of center.

 

This sure was a different Christmas.

 

No gifts.  No family or friends.  No Christmas parades or shopping.  I would have been grateful for a cold turkey sandwich let alone a hot plate of mom’s roasted bird covered with gravy.

 

I used to bitch about hearing Christmas carols for weeks before Christmas.  And the endless Christmas TV shows.   And now it would be great to hear even one corny Rudolph song.  One Frosty.  One RUM-Pa-Pum-Pum little drummer boy.

 

Where are you Charlie Brown?  I know how you felt when no one liked your little tree.

 

No cell phones back then. I couldn’t even call anyone to let them know where I was or how I was doing.  Those were my “knucklehead days.” They weren’t talking to me much back then anyway.

 

I really didn’t need to hear, “I told you so…”

 

But still…

 

No gaudy Christmas lights.  Nothing except a few lights coming from the hardscrabble little pueblo I had passed about a mile back down the road.

 

Just another typical dusty cluster of concrete block homes set in the saddle of some low hills.  Mini- trucks that probably never had hubcaps.  A  rider-less kid’s bike left against a fence, probably when someone got called for dinner.

 

Just like me.  Stuck in the middle of nowhere and not really going anywhere either.  At least not this Christmas night.

 

Especially in the dark, a colorless Baja landscape except for the faded wind-scoured Coca Cola and Tecate signs someone painted a generation ago against a wall.

 

And some tired  political graffiti about voting for somesuch guy who promised to change all this.

 

       “SOY TU REPUESTA! Juntos por el Futuro!” (I’M YOUR ANSWER! Together for the future!)

 

Right.  Politicians and promises never change.  No matter the country.

 

I had passed through the pueblito earlier,  but decided it would be better to pull off the road outside of town.  No sense causing a stir with a strange van parked on their road with an even stranger guy sleeping inside.

 

From my distance, there was surely no sense that it was Christmas.  No colored lights.  Surely no music or semblance of a holiday.  Just me singing the blues in my own head.

 

No other lights except the stars on a clear dark cold night. The kind of stars you can see when there’s no other lights.  And shooting stars too.

 

And one shooting slowly over that little town.

 

And a goofy thought.

 

About another town. Many many years ago.

 

In the middle of nowhere.  No lights.  Maybe some non-descriptn dusty block houses not unlike these.

 

Folks inside just going about their lives. Simple dinners over.  Maybe going to sleep. Just another day. Snuff out the candle or lamp.   Another night.  Nothing changes.

 

Including the night sky.  The same sky.  The exact same stars.  No changes.

 

Yea.  It’s the same night sky.  Gotta be. Thousands of years.  They don’t change.

 

Tried to wrap my tired brain around that one.

 

Maybe the only ones who took notice were some guys on the nightshift watching their animals.  Guys like me, trying to fend off the cold.

 

Who looked up.  Just like I was doing.  Because there was really no place else to look.

 

The story says they saw something up there. In the night sky.  Two milleniums past.

 

And maybe these same stars saw something as well.  Down here.  In a desert town.  Middle of nowhere.

 

Somehow there was a promise that night.  A hope?  Maybe not graffiti’d on a wall.  But something happened that night.

 

And these same stars were there. Back then.

 

And maybe some guys hanging on a windswept desert hill saw something up there too.

 

So say the stories.

 

Or maybe they were just tired and ate some cheap chicken soup.

 

That part wasn’t in the stories.

 

But it was getting colder and the wind was coming up. I climbed into my van and into my sleeping bag.

 

And, for some reason, Christmas wasn’t so bad or lonely anymore.

 

RUM-Pa-Pa-Pum…

 

That’s my story

signature June '18 two 1

______________

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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Tell Them Bring the Salad Next Time!

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PEACE OFFERING or DID THE SPANISH GET PUNKED?

NEXT TIME TELL THEM TO BRING THE SALAD INSTEAD!

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Indeed, it looks different because it is.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, the Spanish would pack up and sail away.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

We will never know.

 

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

 

I love history.

 

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

______________

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

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

_____________ 

 

Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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


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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

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

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SCROOGED at the BORDER

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Whether coming or going there’s always an uneasy feeling when your car gets searched, but going INTO Mexico, especially during the holidays has some potential pitfalls!

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Customs at the airport . The dreaded “red light/ green light.”  If you press the button and it comes up green, you continue on . Get the red light and you get your luggage searched. 

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Why are you travelling with so many NEW shoes?  You say it’s a donation to a church?  Or are they really to re-sell? Hmmmmm..

SCROOGED AT THE BORDER

Originally Published the Week of December 17, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

Not that it’s been easy at the border sometimes, but given it’s the Christmas season, it’s getting a little “grinchy” lately.  There’s a lot of holiday traffic coming and going through the crossings.  Same at the airports.

 

Not only are many folks going back-and-forth visiting, but both ways, there’s a lot of shopping going on.  Baja folks shopping in Southern California and Arizona.  Folks in those states are likewise making shopping forays into Baja and northern Mexico as well.

 

If you’ve ever walked or driven across the border into Mexico this time of year, you can see all the bundles of toys and electronics that folks bring back home, especially for the holidays.   Likewise, if you’ve flown into Mexico from the states, you’ve witnessed the same things.

 

Everyone’s got their bundles of joy.  Expect longer slower lines.  It’s just part of it. Folks carrying Iron Man action figures and remote-control trucks over the border.  Folks with bulging bags from “Toys-R-Us” trying to get stuffed into the overhead on the plane.

 

However, there are many folks coming into Mexico landspace that routinely bring good cheer to a higher level.  They bring bags, suitcases, boxes…even truckloads of new and used donations; toys; clothes; shoes; medical supplies, building supplies, educational materials and more.

 

Community groups, church groups, social organizations, fraternal lodges and many many individuals with generous hearts safari into Mexico from all parts.  Their largesse is welcome and needed.

 

However, with increasing incidence, it’s getting more difficult to simply transport donations south.  It’s even more difficult during the holidays.

 

With all of the goods coming across from laptops-to-toys and shoes-to-jackets, the border inspectors have been coming down harder on searching through bags whether at the airport or at the country lines.

 

It’s one thing if you have a new X-Box and have a sales receipt to show them.

 

It’s a different issue if you’re transporting 3 dozen pair of Nike shoes; 2 dozen jackets; two laptops and 3 dozen pairs of Levis.

 

You tell the  inspector they’re donations for an orphanage.  You tell him they were all purchased by your church “back home.”

 

First thing he’s gonna wanna see is if you declared these things for customs to see if you paid the import on them.  Or, if they are even subject to customs.  Do you have a real sales receipt?

 

Where’s the orphanage?  Do you have papers from them?  What Church group are you from?  Are you alone?

 

A lot of folks are legit.  Just doing the good thing.  But, it’s never easy being questioned and it puts a crimp on the good Samaritan attitudes.

 

But, from the inspector’s point-of-view, his job is to check for contraband and lawful import duties and taxes.  It is just as likely you have all these things because you’re going to re-sell them once you get across the border into Mexico.   You wouldn’t be the first.

 

As one inspector told me, “Lots of people lie on their customs forms.”

 

Say it ain’t so!  People don’t tell the truth to the customs agents? Really?

 

So, good people are getting stopped.

 

Before you bring it, know the importation and customs laws.  Bring receipts with you.  It sure helps to have paperwork from the charity you’re delivering to and/or the organization you’re representing, if any.

 

In the half-dozen cases I’ve encountered, they involved individuals or an individual who routinely drove or flew donations down to Mexico.  Never had problems.  Until recently.

 

They all got searched unexpectedly.  And the search was thorough.

 

The majority of them had paperwork and were not required to pay duties.  They were ultimately politely waved through.

 

Two of the others had to pay small duties on the new items they had in their truck (t-shirts and school supplies).  They were able to demonstrate that their other items were used clothing.

 

One officer recognized the name of the orphanage in Ensenada and finally waived them through without penalties.

 

It was still a hassle.  No one blamed the inspectors who were all professional and polite and had a job to do.

 

But all of them said they would make sure to have better documentation with them next time to alleviate and expedite the process.

 

So, God bless you if you’re bringing down donations during the holidays or for that matter, anytime of the year.

 

A little foresight and preparation helps!  That goes for bringing gifts to friends in Mexico as well.  Don’t forget your receipts!

 

Speaking of “inspections” that dreaded “red light/ green light” at the airport customs counter in airports is getting 86’ed.

 

If you’re not familiar, after you get your luggage, you must pass through a customs inspection.  You press a button.  If you get the green light, you get to go out.

 

If you get the dreaded red light, they’re gonna open your bags and riffle through your underwear, fishing gear , toothbrush and iPad.

 

It was like playing airport lottery when you press the button.  Personally, I always try to get behind someone who just got the red light.  The red light rarely comes on twice in a row!

 

No one likes to have their bags opened.  But, Mexico is apparently going completely with x-ray machines now.

 

Orale y Feliz Navidad a todos! Que Dios les bendiga!  Merry Christmas and God bless!

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

 

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“But They’re Not On The ‘Net, Man!”

5 stars

BUT THEY”RE NOT ON THE ‘NET, MAN!

Originally Published the Week of Nov. 21, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

I’m as guilty as anyone.

 

I don’t think I’m quite a “slave” to social media, but yea, it peeks it’s obtrusive face into my life more than I would like to admit.

 

I’m not one of those constantly buried with my nose in my smartphone. My thumbs aren’t constantly tapping out messages.  I don’t need to “like” or “friend” everyone on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp or all the others.  Thank you, I have enough clutter.

 

But, they do have a time and place.

 

And one of them is when I go to a new place or plan to make reservations. Or I’m on a rare vacation.

 

Darn, I hit those review websites like Trip Advisor, Yelp and Google pretty hard.

 

Half-a-dozen screens open on my laptop!  Do they have 3 stars?  5 stars?  How many reviews do they have?  Someone didn’t like their service?  Beds too hard? Drinks too small?  Noisy kids in the pool?  Overcooked food?  No wi-fi?

 

Compare.  Compare. Compare.

 

Sometimes the information superhighway is just overloaded with too darned much info. Boggles the brain.

 

Hey, everyone gets a bad review every now and then. Even the best.  Not everyone likes Santa Clause, the Pope, or the Dali Lama. Not everyone liked the “Sound of Music” or thinks, Disneyland is the “happiest place on Earth.” So, a bad review now and then won’t deter me.

 

But, a whole bunch of bad reviews is a different animal.  Danger. Danger.

 

A whole lot of good reviews surely helps.

 

But sometimes, it helps to just push yourself away from the screen and keyboard.  Especially in Baja.  Wake up and smell the salt air…the desert…the beans and rice, as it were.  Go all in. Taste the salsa!

 

Use a bit of common sense.  A dash of adventure.  Open your eyes, ears and senses.

 

If it looks good…feels good…other people are there…chances are it IS good.  Even if it’s not listed on some webpage.

 

Some of the best places will never show up on any social media review board.  You’ll never read about the friendly service; the cozy room; the tasty margarita or the best taco you’ve ever had on the internet.

 

The owners and managers themselves aren’t checking their reviews every day and wringing their hands about a bad write-up or counting their good comments proudly.

 

A lot of the best out there don’t know.  Or care.

 

I once offered to write a review in a magazine I worked for of a little-known family-owned hotel that sat at the end of a gravel road on pristine stretch of beach.  The hotel had been in the family for 3 generations.

 

I told the owner it would help bring lots of business. I would also post it on the internet on several blogs that I wrote.  It would be super!

 

The owner smiled and said,“Gracias, that is very kind.  But no thank you. We have enough business and we like it that way.  We don’t want to be so busy.  Just tell your friends you had a good time.  That’s enough.”

 

I had never met someone who didn’t want MORE publicity.  Even free publicity!

 

As his wife explained to me later, more people meant more upkeep, more maintenance, more workers, bigger parking lot, bigger kitchen…more strangers, more amenities, blah blah blah.

 

I got it.  There was something to that.

 

And they were right.  Bigger it not always better.

 

Over the years, I’ve found in Baja that some of the best places are down that dirt or gravel road.  They’re not listed.  You’ll never find if they are rated 2 stars or 5 stars.

 

You’ll find them behind two palm trees and a rickety fence with hand-painted letters.   And a sign pointing toward the beach.

 

They have 6 rooms and little cantina and Mama Maria makes breakfast every morning.  Papa Carlos will show you to your room overlooking the beach.  Son, Danny, laughingly chases the chicken out from behind the bar and makes a mean tequila sunrise. The happy family dog takes handouts.

 

You’ll find another place under a light post on a street corner surrounded by plastic chairs and a line of folks waiting for a fresh sizzling carne asada taco.

 

Luz takes the orders and makes change with a smile. Older brother, Julio handles the grill like a Benihana chef and flirts with the neighbor girls.  Tacos are a buck.  Bottles of Coke or orange soda are in the plastic ice chest.  Help yourself and tell Luz.

 

You’ll find another place 3 blocks from the neon strip and the booming discos.  It’s wedged between a dress shop and a travel agency.  The menus are plastic like the chairs and tablecloth and utensils.

 

The “napkins” are a roll of papertowels.

 

But Vincente the waiter is also the owner.  He promises you the best lobster burrito you’ve ever had.  And he’s right!  Fifty pesos?  About 3 bucks.  Are you kidding me?  Keep the change, Vincente!

 

You ask your taxi driver, Chuy, about a good tour company to take you around town.  He tells you he’ll take you and the family to all the best places and be your personal driver.  Fifty bucks for the whole day.  You take a chance.  What the heck.  All in.

 

He takes you to his favorite restaurants where they treat you like family. He directs you to some great deals on shopping and tells you if they’re charging too much.  Chuy jumps right into the bargaining to buy that sarape and silver bracelet you think you need. Money and laughs exchange hands.

 

He drives you to the best beach and wanders away for a few hours so you have some private time with the family. Barbecued shrimp on a stick?  Coming right up!

 

He takes you to the old cathedral and town square and you listen to local musicians play guitar to the pigeons and doves.

 

None of these people or places will ever be listed on the internet.  You’ll never be able to write a review about them or give them any “stars.”

 

But, you’ll never forget the smiles and experiences either.

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

 

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

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

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BUDDY DO YOU HAVE SOME CHANGE?

 

money exchange

Buddy Do You Have Some Change?

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 10, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

In all the years and all the columns that I’ve written, I don’t know how I could have passed up the subject of money changing.   But, lately, I’ve gotten a number of folks asking so I guess that’s the genesis of this week’s subject.

 

If you’re coming to Mexico, is it a good idea to change dollars to pesos?

 

The answer is yes.

 

Using the “coin of the realm” is always a good idea, but especially now.  With the dollar-to-peso exchange rate at 16 to 18 pesos to the dollar, you stretch your purchasing power by having a pocketful of pesos.

 

There’s more “bang for the buck” as you wander around buying t-shirts for the kids; a sombrero that will end up in a garage sale; and another round of tequila against your better judgment.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  U.S. dollars are really welcome down here and we love having you spend them, but pesos are just handy to have.

 

With pesos in hand, if you see the shrimp dinner costing 150 pesos, you don’t have to do the mental gymnastics to figure how to convert to dollars.   It’s sure easier to figure out the 10% tip too.  It’s also easy math  to calculate if you received the correct amount of change.

 

Additionally, many local business, charge a little more for taking dollars.  We accept them as a “convenience” for visitors like you, but it actually costs us to accept those dollars.  So, there might be a small “visitor tax.”

 

Let me explain.

 

In order to deposit our earnings into the Mexican bank we have to convert them to pesos.  There’s a bank transaction fee attached so Mexican businesses lose some money by doing that.

 

Additionally  some Mexican banks only allow a certain amount of dollars to be deposited by the week or month. If you have more than that, you have to hold onto it and sit on it.

 

For a business, money sitting there doing nothing is not doing anyone any good.  Can’t pay bills.  Can’t make payroll.  Can’t purchase inventory with money that has to sit and, at some point, be accounted for.

 

So that begs the larger question for visitors.  Where should I exchange my money?

 

Out-of-hand, I used to  tell folks to change your money at the airport.  You’re already there.  It’s handy.  They have plenty of money. And the rates seemed about right for the market.

 

WRONG!

 

I didn’t realize that those exchange offices at the airport tack on huge “transaction fees” that pretty much erase any real pragmatic reason for using them.  If you have to use them, use them.  But, there’s better places.

 

For one, there’s your bank at home. Start with them.  You know them.  They know you.  You have an account or two with them. They won’t ding you so hard.

 

If you didn’t get it done before you left home and now you’re in-country, the next place I’d hit is the various money exchange houses around town.  In tourist places like Cabo San Lucas or larger cities like Ensenada or Tijuana, you’ll find them all over.

 

Some are just little kiosks.  Others have small offices.

 

But, they’re easy to find.   And they’re competitive.  Not just with the market rates, but against each other.  The want your business.  They want your dollars and are eager to hand you pesos.

 

Also in the larger tourist areas, they’re open all the time.  You suddenly realize you’re out’ve pesos for a late night taco run.  Or, you know that no one will be able to accept or break your $100 bills, you can usually find someone to change your money.

 

If you’re in a smaller community like La Paz, where we live,  or even smaller places, the money exchange houses will be harder to find and their hours will be more limited. But, they’re there.

 

So, try to think ahead.  If you need change after 5 p.m. you might be out’ve luck.  They‘ll be closed.

 

However, secondary and tertiary options can be found.

 

If you’re at a larger hotel, they can often exchange smaller amounts at the front desk.   For example you need to change $40 bucks that’s fine.  If you’re trying to change $500 dollars, not so fine.

 

But it’s subject to them having dinero in the til.  Don’t always count on the reception desk being able to make change or conversions.  But, it’s an option.

 

There are also larger grocery store chains that have “customer service desks” just like back home. They usually have more money on hand and offer pretty good exchange rates.

 

Just be aware that many places do not accept bills over $20 because of fear of counterfeit.  So, bring five $20 bills.  Don’t bring one $100 bill.

 

There are also ATM machines all over.  Personally, I avoid them.  There’s too many opportunities for fraud, especially in ATM’s on street corners or willy-nilly in markets or bars.  If your card gets eaten by the machine, it’s not like you can ask the bartender to get it out for you.

 

If you have to use an ATM, use one at a bank.  That way if there’s an issue, there’s bank personnel who can assist.  The ATM’s will dispense 200 peso notes (about $11).  And you’ll see a transaction fee on your next statement.  But, in a pinch, it’s better than nothing!

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

 

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

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

Read Full Post »

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