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Archive for the ‘Mexico economy’ Category

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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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.”

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JUST BITE ME

just bite me

JUST BITE ME!

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

It’s that time of the year in Baja.

 

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

 

Oh…and airline tickets are cheaper too!

 

More importantly…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It starts with water.

 

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

 

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

 

You, sir and madam, are the perfect host!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Let’s start with basics!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Which leads me to location.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fragrances can also be your friend.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

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DINING IN THE DARK

tacos in the dark

DINING IN THE DARK

Originally Published the Week of July 18, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publiations

 

Many many decades ago on one of my first forays into Baja, my buddies and I found ourselves to be tragic victims of a common Baja disease of unsuspecting tourists.  It’s called “over-serving.”

 

Poor us.

 

It started with “just one” innocent drink.  The next thing you know those sneaky bartenders are “overserving” you and pouring you another round.  Then another.

 

Who ordered this round of slammers?  Well, I can’t let it go to waste, can I?

 

Followed by other rounds of something else with only slight intermissions of spastic dancing; howling; smack talking and lots of “bro-love.”

 

“Bro, I REALLY love you, man! No, I mean I REALLY love you!”

 

And so us “bros” found ourselves just a few hours short of dawn, cotton-mouthed and stumbling down the street looking for our hotel. We are hungry as heck and know we’d better eat something.

 

Who’s the idiot who booked us to fish in a few hours? I used to love you.  Now I hate you, Dude!

 

No Denny’s or Jack-in-the-Box here in Baja.  All the restaurants are closed.  That crushed granola bar back at the room is sounding pretty good right now.

 

“Forget ‘bro-love.’  I’m not sharing it with any of these drunken boobs…” says my buzzing brain.  Every drunk for himself!

 

It was then we ambled upon the dusty street corner.  Like an oasis of light, a string of overhanging light bulbs beckoned to a bustling cart surrounded by other like-minded booze-addled wanderers. The sound and smell of searing chunks of meat drew us in like a Star Wars tractor beam.

 

Plastic chairs and tables surrounded a portable table filled with colorful salsas while fresh tortillas were coming off a flaming grill; filled with sizzling meat; and handed over to hungry revelers as fast as they came off the glowing coals.

 

Paradise found. My first ever street taco stand!   Each of us devoured a half-dozen tacos like ravenous wolves and washed down with an icy Coke from an old-fashioned bottle.  We would surely pay for our indiscretions in the morning, but for now, happy tummies accompanied us back to our hotel rooms.

 

I can’t remember if we ever made it to fishing.

 

But, I do remember the beginning of my street-food love affair in Baja.

 

If you ever want to eat “real Mexican food” you’ll find it on the streets.  It’s estimated that 70% of locals eat more than 50% of their meals at street carts.  It’s fresh, fast, cheap and muy sabrosa!

 

If you’re ever stumbling around at night like we were, you probably won’t find a restaurant.  No Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast or short stack at the International House of Pancakes in Baja.   But you will find street carts everywhere and probably a line of hungry people around them.

 

Each of them can be very different because each of them is probably a family-run venture.  Each has it’s own specialty salsas (reds…greens…spicy…sweet…fresh…cooked).  Each has it’s specialty condiments (cabbage…marinated onions…picked vegetables…chiles…nuts…spreads…guacamole).

 

Each might have it’s own particular meats, cuts of meats or seafoods.  Usually at night, it will be mostly meats.

 

These are not the same as American tacos.

 

Real Mexican tacos are usually served in soft corn or flour tortillas so be prepared to tell them what kind  of tortilla you want.  American tacos (Taco Bell/ Del Taco) are in a strange pre-cooked hard “folder” of corn.

 

Americans are used to having their tacos with meat then buried under lettuce and tomatoes.  Your Mexican tacos are filled with meat then you get to have the fun of packing it yourself with all the different fillings.    It’s really what makes each taco stand different from it’s neighbor right next door!

 

Here’s a quick primer that touches just the tip of all the varieties:

 

Carne Asada – Grilled beef either on a flat grill or open flame then sliced or chopped and served in your tortilla.  Different cuts of beef make a difference in the flavor and texture from cart to cart.

 

Al Pastor – thin sliced pork marinated in spices and pressed into a rotisserie “log” much like gyro meat or shwarma with a fiery brazier cooking it from the side as it slowly turns.  Brought over from the middle east at the turn of the century pork is used instead of lamb. Often topped with pineapple, it’s sliced from the top down in thin strips right into a handheld tortilla.

 

Chorizo – Mexican pork sausage flavored with garlic, chile, vinegar and other spices chopped then grilled.  Some folks like it dry.  Others like the good greasy chorizo!

 

Carnitas – Chopped and shredded pork shoulder usually or sometimes just cut-off chunks of whole suckling pig.  A big favorite.  Try it mixed or topped with chopped crunchy bits of deep fried or grilled pork skin (cueritos/ chicharrones).  Basically think deep fried pork belly chopped and fried! Who doesn’t like bacon?

 

Arrachera – Personal favorite.  Tender flank steak that has been marinated in citrus juice, garlic and other spices sizzled on the grill then slices into my tortilla!  Way better and more tender than plain carne asada.

 

If you’re at an authentic place, you’ll know if it they serve these.  Don’t turn your nose up at it.  Get past the names and it’s tasty stuff and often a line waiting to eat these tacos:

 

Lengua – Trimmed and cleaned beef tongue. Grilled and tender.  Has a chew texture and mild flavor.

 

Buche – Pork throat and stomach.  Actually very flavorful and delicious on a corn tortilla.

 

Cabeza – Steamed cow head / cachete cheeks – meat cut from the head and those tender cheeks.  Eat this and you’ll get high-fives from the locals eating next to you!

 

A word about taco cart etiquette.

 

There may be a line, but you have to sometimes step up and tell them what you want.  They’re jamming and busy.  Raise your hand if you have to.  On a Saturday night, it can be like a mini-version of the stock exchange.  Everyone is hungry!  It’s not impolite to yell out your order!

 

Reach into the ice chest for your sodas.  Keep count of your tacos.  It’s an “honor system” and often everyone there is a neighbor of the owners.

They trust you to keep count of how many sodas and tacos you scarfed down.

 

When your tummy is full, they’ll tally it up for you.  Don’t wait for a bill to show up.  There usually isn’t one!

 

Now go back to your hotel room and don’t forget to set the alarm to wake up for fishing! And drink lots of water.

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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WHERE THE WILD THING ARE…er…WERE

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Where the Wild Things Are…er…Were

Originally published the Week of July 4, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

As a little kid, there was a beach I would sneak off to back home in Hawaii.

 

I’m dating myself.  I could ride my sting-ray bike there.

 

Down from the main road to where it sloped to gravel.  Down through the thick over-hanging jungle canopy. The air was thick and moist and the gravel gave way to a path of rich soft wet damp earth that never seemed to dry out and carpeted with soggy decaying leaves.

 

It would suddenly break into a clearing that I simply called “my beach.”  A sunny little white sand cove protected by a small shallow coral reef.  Dark lava rocks at the two small headlands and waves broke gently over into a blue pool about as wide as I could throw a rock.

 

A small stream that started somewhere in the rain forest up in the mountains dropped from a small waterfall.  It emerged from the thick vegetation and tumbled over smooth dark boulders through a gritty arroyo where it’s darker reddish waters joined the blue ocean.

 

It was a good little place to fish.  Or swim.  Or hang out with neighborhood pals under the coco palms.  For a bunch of black-haired, barefooted, hell-bent tribal children with unlimited energy and imagination , it was the best playground.

 

Where the wild things are.

 

Build forts out’ve driftwood. Chase each other with rounds of “Marco Polo,” our version of “tag.”

 

Play “chicken” in the waters while perched on each other’s shoulders and exhausted ourselves with laughter attacking the “king of the hill” on the small sand dunes.   Then later a retreat under the palms to eat sandwiches or maybe sticky-finger spam and rice rolls made by our moms.

 

Looking back we referred to it as “little kid time.”

 

It was “my beach.”  And I was convinced no one knew about it.  We never saw anyone else there.

 

On the island we just figured there were lots of little hidden beaches and coves.  This was “ours.”  Other people must have “their own beach.”  Right?   Little boys have their own brand of logic.

 

But, as with all “little kid time,”  little kids grow up.  Life and other things came along.  The islands were left behind, but always carried with me.

 

Years later, I came back.  To where the road ended.  To where the gravel started.  To where the dirt path emerged from the dampness to the light.  And I stopped.

 

Or to be more precise.  I was halted.

 

By a barbed wire gate.  It had a sign.

 

“No Trespassing.  Private Beach.  Exclusively for Owners.  No locals.”

 

Some “non-local” kids were gunning wave runners through the shallows where we used to play chicken.  Some new “kings of the hill” had built expensive houses on our sand.  An expensive European SUV was parked in front of one of them.

 

I stared at the barbed wire. . . and the sign.

 

Fast forward.

 

Two days ago. Mid-day Baja heat.

 

I drove out to one of the beaches north of La Paz where we live.  Just needed to get out’ve the office and not to be found for an hour or so.

 

No more beeping text messages or phone calls. Maybe just close my eyes for a few minutes to the sound of…nothing.

 

Just to take a breath.  Get some air.  Look at some blue water.  Get lucky and watch some dolphin make me envious.

 

I drove to one of the remote beaches.  This one famous on postcards for sugar sand and water the color of sapphire turquoise. It often shows up on travel shows and brochures as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

 

And there, plain as day, the beach had been lined with umbrellas and plastic tables and chairs.  And you needed to pay for a permit.

 

It was like being told you can’t look at Yosemite or the Grand Canyon without renting special glasses.

 

Oh, and no photos allowed either.  Or what?  Are you kidding me?

 

On the license plates here in Baja it says, “La Frontera.” The frontier. Yea, I get it.  Wide open spaces. Deserted beaches. Solitary beaches.  OK. It’s not Mexico City. It’s definitely not the mainland.

 

But, it had this reputation of being someplace you could still find the wild places to go.

 

And maybe re-aquaint yourself with some of your own internal wildness or hidden “little kid time”  that seems to get buried in traffic jams, office politics, corporate jumble and suburbia strip-mall-life-back home.

 

I guess, it’s still here.  You just have to look a little hard and go a little further.  And further still.  Everywhere.  Somewhere.

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

 

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

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

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THEY BETTER SPEAK ENGLISH!

os-gringos-1

It’s vacation!  Perfectly fine and fun to blow off some steam and act like an idiot.  Completely different to BE and idiot when you visit a neighbor.

THEY BETTER SPEAK ENGLISH!

Originally Published the Week of June 19, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

They better speak English!

Or what?

Are you going to pack your bags and go home?

I’m usually pretty calm.  Don’t get too excited and try to keep an even keel about things.  But, I’m human.  I have buttons that can be pushed like anyone else.

One that gets me is arrogant Americans.  I’m sorry.

This isn’t political. It’s just about well…as my English buddies day, it’s about “bad form” and “behaving poorly.”

I’ve lived here 21 years in Baja.  My wife and I try to be good ambassadors on behalf of Americans.  We realize people look at us. We have several rather high-profile businesses.  But, we always remember we are guests.

It’s how I would act if I were to come visit you in your home.  It’s how you’d expect me to act if you opened your doors to me.

But this happened yesterday.    I had the occasion to run into two couples who came into our restaurant.  I like to visit the tables.   Say hi.  Check on the food and chit-chat.

“Where ya from?”

“How’s that taco?”

“Is that mango margarita OK?”

Seemed like nice folks.  First time visiting Mexico.

They asked me about the possibility of going fishing.  So, I went into my info about our fishing fleets.   Blah blah blah…

Several sentences into my spiel, one of the guys says very straight-faced, “Your captains better speak English.”  Totally squared up.  Almost challenging.

Like the way the hall monitor talked to you…or down to you… in grade school.  Or Father O’Malley talked to me when he nailed me for shooting a spit wad in church.

What?  They BETTER speak English…or what? Was what bolted through my brain matter.

“UH…Well, sir, they do speak pretty good ‘Span-glish’ that has seemed to work pretty well for 2 decades.  Everyone gets along.”  I tried to deflect with a smile.

He replied.

“Y’know, that’s the problem with this country (oh-oh…anytime someone wants to tell you about YOUR problems red flags pop up…)”

“The problem is ‘THESE PEOPLE’ (another red flag) want our money, but they won’t learn English.  How are we supposed to communicate and how do you run a business with employees that don’t speak English?”

Inhale.  Take breath.  How do I count to ten really fast? For a nano-second I really wanted to bark back.

I looked around the room at all my waiters and busboys hustling around the dining room terrace.

I said, “Sir, it seems to work out OK.  This is Mexico.  People speak Spanish.  You’ll never find friendlier more welcoming people and hard workers.  Folks really do their best.  All of us do.  And whether it’s fishing, dining or whatever, I think you’ll find that the language barrier is what you make of it.  Everyone understands words like ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ and smiles are universal!”

I was trying to be cheery.  This guy couldn’t be this much of a boob.

I was doing my best efforts using international relations / chamber of commerce party lines.  But, my words were sincere.

One of the wives chimed in.

“Y’know, here’s another problem with THIS country. (emphasis on “THIS”) We went to a store to buy a t-shirt and they wouldn’t give us change in U.S. dollars.  They wanted to give us that Mexican pesos!  It’s like ‘play money.’”

“Yea,” chortled one of the other husbands.  “I bet these people have American dollars stashed behind the counter and just love to screw with American tourists ‘cuz they think we’re idiots.”

Si, Senor.  I’m thinking the same about you at this very moment.  I didn’t know where to start.  What are the rules of engagement here?

Do I address the insult or make some feeble attempt to educate?  Or do I punch someone in the nose?

It was three of them against one of me.  Three half-wits that didn’t have a complete thought between them.

Until the other wife joined the bashing party.  She was gonna sum up the conversation.

“THESE PEOPLE (that phrase again) just have such a messed-up country.”  There’s so much violence.  Their politicians are all corrupt.”

“No one trusts their government.  Everyone is on the take.  Mexican voting is all rigged.  Everyone knows that.  Their president is a joke.  Mexicans don’t care because that’s how it is.  That’s their culture. They’re used to it.”

“All they know how to do is take advantage of each other and get free things.   It’s all backwards in Mexico not like US back home in the U.S.   Right?”

She said it so cavalierly. So dismissively bordering on haughtiness.  So much smugness. She looked around at the other three to confirm.  Nods and smirks from the other panel of “judges.”

Yup.  Everyone knows.  You are so very very right.  Dumb-bass.  Pointless.

Why are you even here?

Favor quedate en casa proxima vez.

Well, you folks finish your meal.  Hope that margarita gives you the worst brain freeze ever.

I’m gonna go back into my office and do two things.

I’m going let off some steam and vent by putting some ideas down for my column.   Insulted.  Angered. Ashamed.  Yea…that about sums it up.

Secondly, I’m going to be thankful that the majority of the folks who visit us are a lot more enlightened.   Amen.

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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