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Archive for the ‘Mexico Christmas’ Category

Shut My Mouth!

Day-6-Wheeling-and-dealing-with-the-Mexican-jewelry-salesman.

That’s the idea! Have some fun with it!

Shut My Mouth

Originally Published the Week of Aug. 27, 2019 in Western Outdoor Publications

 

It was an awkward situation that had the potential to turn ugly. Actually, it already was.

On the sidewalk outside our restaurant in La Paz, a gringo (I’ll call him Pete) was getting pretty loud.

In front of him looking embarrassed and afraid was Jose who makes his living walking up and down the beach and waterfront selling jewelry. Everthing is “genuine” and of “highest quality.” (wink wink).

But he says it with a smile so you know it’s a game.

No, that $30 Rolex watch is not waterproof nor would you expect it to be! Not for $30 and you’re a doofus if you think it’s real!

But I know Jose. He’s a good guy. He works hard. He doesn’t pester or hound. Folks like him and look for him. He laughs a lot and he runs a good bargain.

That turquoise bracelet that is 100% silver he tells you it’s $60. And he laughs. He’s dangles the bait in the water.

He EXPECTS you to say “no” and give him a counter offer!

He knows that the bracelet is not worth $60 and he figures you’re smart enough to know that too! If you plop down $60 and you’re happy…well so be it!

But, you say $15. He laughs and says $50.
You say $17 and he says “no way” and laughs again. He says he can’t sell it for less than $45.

Back and forth. Back and forth. You really want it. He really wants to sell it to you.

When you both finally settle on $21 dollars, everyone is happy! He made a sale and made a few bucks. You got a pretty piece of “genuine” silver and turquoise.

Win-win. It’s the game. It’s fun. It’s expected.

That’s not how it was going today. And by the way both Pete and Jose were looking at me, I was being drawn in as a referee.

Pete was getting pretty livid.

“This guy is like all the rest. He’s just trying to rip me off!”

Whoa…I already don’t like the usage of “all the rest” and “rip me off” in the same sentence.

Calm down Pete. Let me get Jose’s side.

Jose looked like he could use some assistance because Pete’s whole family was there and Pete was still causing a commotion drawing a crowd to listen in.

Jose explained to me that he and Pete had done a deal over several items of jewelry.

Well, Pete wanted his change in dollars!

Jose is a street vendor. He doesn’t or didn’t have dollars. So, he tried to give Pete the change in pesos.

Pete didn’t want pesos, but he definitely wanted the jewelry and didn’t understand the exchange rate.

Ultimately, there was a $5 dollar difference in what Pete thought and what Jose was giving him in change. Five freakin’ dollars!

And Pete was letting everyone know about it who would listen. About getting “ripped off” by “these people.”

By the way, Pete came into town on 75’ yacht and loved telling people over and over about it and all his antique sportscars. Five dollars. Are you kidding me?

I explained to Pete about the exchange rate and that no one had been trying “rip him off. Jose didn’t have American money to give him any change.

Pete glared.

“What you gonna do, Pete? Do you want the jewelry and pesos?”

He took his family and stormed off. Mumbling something about, “What am I supposed to do with pesos in my pocket?” Emphasis on the “I” as if it was beneath him to have pesos and how demeaning it was.

Uh, you’re in Mexico, Dude. I’m sure you’ll find something to spend that on.

His pretty blonde wife and two perfect kids also walked away indignantly with their noses in the air.

Jose gave me an appreciative high-five “gracias.” He shrugged. Just another day working the street. I’m sure it’s not the first time.

I won’t write what some of the other onlookers said about Pete and his family.

It got me thinking about five dollars here in Mexico…

Five dollars a day is what some people bring home after a day of work. A six-day work weeks gets you a whopping $30 to live on.

If you have a car (rarely), it buys one gallon of gas. Not to cruise or go to the beach. Hopefully that gallon is enough to putter to and from work. hopefully enough to bring the kids to and from school.

Five dollars is a bus ride to work and back. Even though you are only making 11 dollars for working a 12-hour day.

Five dollars barely buys a crappy dinner for a family of 3. That’s 3 Cokes and 3 Cup-O-Noodles in the styrofoam cup. Salt and sugar for dinner. Highly nutritious but at least you don’t go to bed hungry.
Five bucks buys you enough propane for a week to cook and light your home.

For cleaning 15 messed-up hotel rooms by herself, five bucks is the total amount of tips your cleaning lady made at the resort you’re staying at.

Just enough to pay for her bus ride home tonite.

Enjoy that genuine silver jewelry, Pete.

That’s my story…

signature June '18 two 1

Jonathan

______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter.com.

They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________

 


Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBLvdHL_p4-OAu3HfiVzW0g


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

 

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I DON’T ALWAYS TELL PEOPLE WHERE I FISH… (…BUT WHEN I DO, IT’S A LIE!)

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I DON’T ALWAYS TELL PEOPLE WHERE I FISH…

                     …BUT WHEN I DO, IT’S A LIE!

 

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

 

Fishermen are funny folks.

 

Most of them that I know will give you the shirts off their backs.  They’ll invite perfect strangers to sit down for dinner and a beer.

 

They’ll happily give you every fish recipe they know.  They’ll patiently show you how to tie every knot or explain their gear to you.

 

But, there’s a caveat and limit to generosity.  Fishermen have a reputation for tall tales and outright lies.  It’s in our nature.

 

Nowhere is that more evident than when you ask an angler where his secret fishing spots are located.

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He or she will give up the combination to the family safe or tell you where the family jewels are stashed before revealing their honey hole fishing spots.

 

In my years down here, I have seen some crazy things.

 

With our fleets here in La Paz, let me preface by saying that most of the captains are related by blood or marriage.  Overall, no matter which fleets they work for, there’s a general spirit of cooperation.

 

Most times!

 

There’s mutual respect and at the end of the day, they all have to go home to the same families, neighborhoods and, in some cases, the same homes together.

 

But, like competing football teams, that doesn’t mean there’s any lack of competitiveness or shenanigans.

 

For example, there’s radio channels.

 

There are the general channels that everyone listens to or for emergencies.  But then each fleet also has it’s own channel that everyone in that particular fleet tunes to.  Everyone knows the other fleet’s frequencies.

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And there’s the “secret channel” where anyone can listen, but the fleet broadcasts it’s phoney-baloney info!  And the channels change all the time to keep the competition off-balance.

 

For instance, they’ll broadcast the wrong locations to catch bait or where the dorado or tuna are biting.  They’ll outright lie about what they’ve caught in their fish boxes or where they are located.

 

And all seems fair.

 

It’s part of the game and strategy because everyone is doing it.  The “hot” guy one day might be ice cold the next.  He might be giggling about his secret spot today, but tomorrow, he’s the goat and gets duped by false info.

 

The secret to playing the game is scanning through all the radio junk and know who’s broadcasting what info and recognizing voices.

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To us it sounds like one continuous Spanish word and a lot of squawking, but there’s a method to the madness.  I’ve even seen them disguise their voices.

 

Almost like the Navajo radiomen in WW 2.

 

So, if your captain seems like he’s spending a lot of time on the radio, he’s wading through all the chatter and keying on what’s happening on the  oceanic game-board.

 

This was all explained to me years ago by one of my captains after I asked him why he spent so much seemingly useless time on the radio.

 

He laughed and said, “I’m playing the game! My youngest brother and uncle work for the other fleet. My older brother and cousin work for you so we screw with each other all day.  So do all the other captains!”

 

Gamesmanship! Know when to hold ‘em.  Know when to fold ‘em.

 

He also said, “We know the gringo guys in the big yachts are trying to listen as well and we do not want them to know our spots and ruin the bite!”

 

Well, OK then…

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Another time, with one of our favorite skippers, he told us to bring colorful beach towels with us.  Sure.  No big deal.

 

Later in the day, he brought us to one of his “secret spots.” We were having a blast catching fish.

 

But, whenever another panga (from another “team”)  got close to us, he would quickly tell us to take down the rods and hide them.  He told us to grab the beach towels and pretend we had been swimming.

 

He told us to make  a lot of noise and pretend we were drying off and wave at the other boat as it went by.

 

As soon as they were gone, out came the rods again!  Sneaky.

 

There was another year when we had a huge dorado bite going off north of town.  The “fish magnet” turned out to be a huge Christmas tree that someone had set adrift.

 

Floating upside down, it attracted huge schools of sizeable dorado and other species.   Whoever was on the spot could easily load up on fish and/or catch- and-release as quickly as you could put a bait in the water.  It was epic.

 

 

One or two boats would fish the spot and load it up.  It would then call in other friendly pangas. They would get their limits.  They would leave and call in others.  And so-on-and-so-on in a great rotation!

 

All the while, phoney radio transmissions were getting sent out.  But…word eventually got out to the other fleets.

 

Every few nights, each fleet would “steal” the tree and tow it to another secret spot known only to it’s captains.

 

A few nights later having deciphered all the crazy radio broadcasts,  some other fleet would steal it back.  This went on for two weeks until the currents carried it away or the tree simply disintegrated.

 

 

Even on a daily basis, when our own captains return each day to give me their reports, I ask where they were fishing or where they found the bite.

 

“Where were you fishing today? “

 

I get winks and a smile, “In the Sea of Cortez, Senor Jonathan!”

 

Let the games continue…can’t trust a fisherman to give a straight answer.

That’s my story!

signature June '18 two 1

Jonathan

______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter.com.

They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________

 


Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter.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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I’m Voting You Off the Island!

 

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I’m Voting You Off the Island!

Originally Published the Week of March 23, 2019 in Western Outdoors Publications

 

Is it just me?

 

We have now been on the road cross-crossing the country since just after Christmas.  All these fantastic fishing/hunting/ sportsmans shows from Denver to Seattle and Long Beach to Salt Lake City and many more.

 

Jill and I  haul our booth and a zillion pounds of brochures and flyers in our vehicle and promote our Tailhunter Sportfishing operation in La Paz but also just visiting Baja and Mexico.

 

It’s been a wonderful run.

 

For almost 25 years we hit the road  for almost 4 months.  Add in another 15 other years for other fishing businesses and that’s about 40 years of shaking hands; smiles and good will.

 

It’s been a privilege and an honor to see so much of our great country and visit so many wonderful folks.  Even moreso to host them, their friends and family with us in Baja.

 

Most of our clients become our friends.  And we’re now into 2 or 3 generations.  It has been one of my life’s great joys.

 

So, what’s changed?  And indeed is it just me? Or are all of us just a little more on edge?  More flinty.  More intolerant.  Less sensitive or overly sensitive at the same time.  Sometimes over the same thing and at the same time.

 

It started a few years ago during our shows.

 

People directly confronting us or out of the side of their mouths saying things like:

 

“Why’d they let people like YOU into this show?”

“All dirty Mexicans like you should be killed.”

“We can’t believe you’re up at this show trying to make people go to THAT country!”

 

I’m not proud to say that a few times I rose to the bait and we had some confrontations at the booth.  I hate when someone gets in my face and jabs a finger in my chest, especially when I’m trying to get everyone to stand down.

 

Some don’t dare say it to me, but I hear them say it to my wife.  And, that I won’t take.  Say it to my face if you have something to say.

 

And, no, it wasn’t isolated in just certain places.  It happened in almost every state and city we visited.  But only now and then.

 

I just chalked it up to ignorance.  Or too much alcohol walking around through the show.  Can’t fix stupid.

 

And believe me, it’s just one tiny-eenie-weenie part of the thousands of folks we chat with every year.

 

No, we’re not Mexican.  We’re very American and very proud of it.

 

But, I’m also proud of the work we do and all the happy times we’ve provided.  I’m proud to also represent Mexico and it’s people and hopefully open a few eyes to new experiences and a wonderful culture.

 

By the same token, I feel we represent Americans as well.  We strive to be good ambassadors in Mexico because well…we’re Americans and we will be judged by our actions.

 

So, what’s happening?

 

At the shows, the complexion of people seems to have changed.  So many folks still come to our booth to ask about fishing and vacations and laugh over fishing stories.

 

But, increasingly  people come up to the booth not to ask about vacations or if the hotel rooms have air-conditioning or how big are the fish in August.

 

They have opinions to share.  And we’re sitting ducks in our booth.

 

More belligerent.  More confrontational.  More argumentative.  More contradictory. More profane.

 

You say that something like “Sir…In the past 10 years, the best time to catch tuna is the summer months!”

 

Here’s a response…

 

“Well, you’re full of crap.  I have a friend-who-has-a-friend and he fished twice there in Baja and he caught tuna in winter!”

 

And it’s said with emphasis on the C-word and inches from my face. A challenge.

 

“OK, Sir.  I don’t doubt your friend’s friend has caught tuna, but I’ve been in Mexico almost 30 years and…”

 

Before I can even finish…

 

“So, you’re calling me a liar?  I guess just like all Mexicans, you just wanna take people’s money and talk sh-t!”

 

Or this conversation:

 

“We never listen or care about limits.  Whenever we go to Mexico, screw the limits.  We kill whatever we want to kill and as much as we want.”

 

“Amigo..uh..That’s illegal!”

 

“So what?  Every Mexican captain or Mexican can be bought off if you give him enough money. (Ha!Ha!) That’s why we go to Mexico because rules don’t apply! We can do whatever we want.  Who cares what Mexico or Mexicans think?”

 

“Well, that’s not how it works for me.  Or my employees or my captains.  It’s not only illegal and unethical, but I don’t know any LEGITIMATE operator where we live that would tolerate that or would risk their business or reputation doing that!”

 

“Then you’re all idiots! (Guffaw guffaw!) “

 

And he makes a point to point that stupid finger at my face.  Cute.

 

He tries logic.

 

“Like when we catch marlin. Last time we went, I caught and boated a marlin.  There’s 3 other guys on the boat.  It’s not fair to them that they don’t get to kill a marlin too, is it?

 

“The limit is one per day, Pal..”

 

“Well, it’s a stupid rule and you’re stupid for not letting your clients catch what they want because if you don’t, there’s plenty of other Mexicans willing to play ball!”

 

My hackles are up…count…1, 2, 3, 4, 5…take a breath.

 

Look…I have a business to run and payroll to make and I surely love earning a buck.  But, for the first time in decades, I’m reserving the right to fire clients.  Sometimes even before they are clients…

 

I do the same to folks who stand at my booth and rail on all the things wrong with the U.S. and Americans and how it’s all gone to hell-in-a-hand-basket.  And on and on.

 

There’s a time and place.  The counter of my booth isn’t it.  It’s a fishing booth not your soapbox to tell me all the things you hate about our country or people.

 

“You just need to move on. I really don’t want you down to visit us. I do not want you or your money or your business.  You’re not worth the energy. “

 

And their eyes pop open!  And they go…

 

”Whaaaa…?  You don’t want me?”

 

As if they’ve paid their entry ticket to the event and it entitles them to spew vitriol at me and I’d better well stand and listen to it.  And how dare I refuse to listen and not want their business or listen to their opinions.

 

Well, yes I can.  You have a right to your opinon, but I have a right not to have to listen either.

 

Yessir. You, sir, are voted off the island!  Seeeee ya!

 

And these are no longer isolated incidents.  That’s the sad part.

 

A day doesn’t seem to go by at the shows these days when at least once or more when someone has something to get off their chest on us.  It’s either because we’re handy targets or directly fired at us because of what we do.

 

People are angrier.

 

They’re more emboldened to say their mind with no filters.  Maybe it’s social media.  Maybe it’s just the times we live in.  Maybe it’s just me lacking patience for haters.

 

In that respect, I’m angrier too.  And it takes a lot to get me angry.

 

Just be on notice.

 

If you’re gonna spew hate and nonsense about me, my work, my wife, employees or both my countries of Mexico AND America, I have no hesitation to telling you that I don’t need you. You’re already wrecking my day standing in front of me yapping your pie-hole.

 

Twenty years ago…heck even 5 years ago, I’d have sucked it up and smiled and accepted their money and booked them to come down and fish.  I’m learning to say “no” in my old age.  I can be a butt-head too.

 

 

I’m not going to let that ugliness ruin it for so many other incredible folks who just want to have a good time with friends and family.

 

Nor will I let you come down and show our Mexican friends another side of ugly Americans and let you taint all of us.  No, sir. Not everyone is like you.

Just my two cents.

 

That’s my story…

signature June '18 two 1

Jonathan

______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter.com.

They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________

 


Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBLvdHL_p4-OAu3HfiVzW0g


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

 

 

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When Fishing Is Not So A-Peeling!

bananas1

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~!

signature June '18 two 1

Jonathan

______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter.com.

They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com

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

_____________

 


Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBLvdHL_p4-OAu3HfiVzW0g


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

 

Read Full Post »

One Star

mojave

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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