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Archive for the ‘road trip’ Category

STAY FOR DINNER! SPANISH FOOD ON THE MENU!

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Then some Mexican fishermen went missing.

 

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

 

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

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

 

Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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


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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

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

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NO BAD QUESTIONS?

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No Bad Questions?

Originally Published the Week of March 27, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publicastions

As I’m writing this, we’re just about to do our last shows of the season.  Since December, Jill and I have been on the road appearing in our booth at some of the largest fishing/ hunting/ outdoor expositions in the Western U.S.  We’ve been out promoting our fishing operation in La Paz but generally just talking it up about visiting Baja.

 

It’s always fun.  After more than 30 years of standing in booths fielding questions and chatting with thousands of folks, I’d like to share with you some of questions you should ask a prospective outfitter or guide.

 

This applies to whether you meet face-to-face or, as happens in most cases these days, you make an inquiry online or over-the-phone.  At least, give it some thought.

 

Many times, their literature or social media already has it.  But…It’s YOUR vacation.

 

Better to have too much information and being prepared than getting surprised later on.  This is especially true when you might be coming to Mexico or a location in Mexico or Baja for the first time and even moreso, if you don’t speak the language.

 

This is no particular order, but should come up in the conversation somewhere.

 

CREDIBILITY – How long have they been in business?  What’s their background?  I know lots of guys that were truck drivers then one day just decided they were going to be “guides” or “outfitters” with no real background.   Everyone wants to “live the dream” but it’s an entirely different thing to actually turn a hobby into a paying profession.

 

It helps if they have a track record of advertisements or are recommended by someone you know or their social media presence.  It takes something to stay in business in this field.  It’s not everything, but it helps.

 

What do other say about them?  Check places like Trip Advisor and Google which is very regulatory when it comes to posting comments.

 

ACCOUNTABILITY – Is the person you’re talking to going to be there when you are there for your vacation?  Is the person you’re talking to just an agent that you’ll never see or hear from again once you’re booked?  Does the person even live there?

 

Who will actually be delivering the services?

 

Who’s going to be the captain, guide, driver, etc.?   The person you’re talking to might be totally reputable and we know many fine agents, but posing the question doesn’t hurt.  At least you’re expectations will not be misplaced.

 

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING – You wouldn’t buy a car or a house without having things in writing.  Most outfitters we know that have had any longevity in the hospitality business know their stuff.

 

But, over the course of a conversation things get lost outright or lost in translation.  This is especially true  at shows where so much gets said or on social media where a zillion e-mails or texts might shoot back and forth.  It’s best to have some record of what you’re getting and not getting.

 

Nothing like showing up then finding out there were extra charges for bait, transportation, food, gear, etc.  Major buzz kill having to reach into your pocket unexpectedly.  Or that that hotel “close to the beach” was really 2 blocks away with a view only if you’re on your tippy-toes standing on the roof.

 

PRICE ISN’T EVERYTHING – Like most things in life, you really DO get what you pay for.  If you’re “budget shopping” chances are you’ll get a budget vacation too.

 

It surely doesn’t hurt to ask a prospective outfitter if there’s any discounts, but honestly, I wouldn’t push it.  Maybe if it’s a different time of year.  Maybe a saving if you bring more people.

 

Most outfitters working these days live on a tight budget themselves.  If they are at shows, they are probably already offering discounted trips.

 

But that “discounted trip” might mean you’re now going to be in the room with a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling and sharing a bathroom with two other rooms.

 

I do know some that will get offended if you push too hard.

 

As one outfitter told me, “I know what my services are worth. I work hard.   One guy pushed and pushed for discounts.  So, I asked him, ‘You work hard for your paycheck right? If your boss asked you to take a 20% paycut would you work as hard or as diligently for him?’ The guy shut up. “ Point taken.

 

Another example I have seen numerous times.  One charter operation is $100 less than another.  The less expensive guy might be a little more hesitant to burn extra gas to go where the fish are biting in order to save money. He has to make a living too.

 

Think about it.  Simple economics.  Get the best you can afford.  Not the most you can get away with.  Vacations are too special to cut corners if you don’t have to.

 

There’s also some questions you can ask that will get a raised eyebrow from some outfitters and guides.

 

I have heard people ask me or ask other outfitters:

 

Will you guarantee that I will catch fish? (I’ve never met an outfitter that will!)

 

If I pay more will I catch more fish? (You’re always welcome to pay us more!)

 

If I don’t have a good time, will you refund my money? (I can’t hear you)

 

How many fish will I catch in a day? (I don’t know.  Are you any good?)

 

Can you promise me the sun will be out when I fish? (Sure…let me wave my magic wand!)

 

Will it be too hot for me when I come on vacation? (What’s “too hot” mean?)

 

How can I make it so I only catch smaller fish?  Big fish are too strong for me. (You will love catching bait!)

 

How hard are the beds / pillows at the hotel we will stay at? (Compared to what?)

 

How deep is the ocean? (About that deep!)

 

What if I stop breathing when I SCUBA dive?  (Stay with the snorkel trip!)

 

I heard Baja is primitive. How much toilet paper should I bring? (So “primitive! You better fill a suitcase with it!)

 

We hear them all. And just when you think you’ve heard the all, you get another.

 

“If I have to go ‘number two’ in the middle of the ocean and can’t hold it, what will happen?”

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 
www.tailhunter-international.com

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


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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

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

 

 

 

 

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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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I SWEAR IT WAS THIS BIG

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I SWEAR IT WAS THIS BIG! 

Originally Published the Week of January 3, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

 

“All fishermen are born honest…but they eventually grow out’ve it.”…Anonymous sign posted on a fishing shack

 

“Jonathan, come down quick, I’ve got a huge fish.  It could be a record!”

 

Over the several decades in the fishing business down here in Baja, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.

 

There was a day and time when I’d go rushing over with camera, scale, and tape measure.  Hey, it’s Baja!

 

More world records pop out’ve Baja waters than any other place on the planet.  Line class and weight class records are set every year.

 

I used to stumble over myself sprinting over to the massive fish and beaming fisherman.  Couldn’t get there fast enough.

 

If it wasn’t a call for a “world record” it was a call to check out some no less massive creature from the deep.

 

I admit I’ve gotten older and slower through the years, but I don’t quite sprint over like I used to.   At least not with the same urgency!

 

I have not curbed my enthusiasm by any means.  If an angler is excited and thinks it’s a big fish, then by gosh, I’m excited about that big fish too!

 

But logically, not every fish is going to be a “world record.”  Logically, not every dorado is a “fifty-pound beast.”  Not every roosterfish or wahoo weighs 80 pounds!

 

But, if someone is excited about it, then it’s very likely the largest fish that proud angler has caught…or the first…or prettiest…  It really doesn’t matter.

 

It’s an important fish and I’m excited about it too.

And, despite jokes to the contrary, “size matters.”

 

Actually, it’s all that matters.  But, like we all know, size is relative.

 

I’ve gotten pretty good after all those years after handling thousands of fish.  I can  eye-ball the size of a fish and can give a pretty good estimate on size.

 

So, like I said, I don’t quite hustle down the beach with all available speed any longer.

 

I don’t want to bust anyone’s bubble or temper their excitement so I’ll “conveniently” say, “Darnit,  I forgot my scale, but that’s a dandy fish!”

 

I’ll give a generous estimate and I make sure I take a photo if at all possible with lots of well-deserved genuine high-fives…low-fives…knuckle-bumps and back-slapping.

 

The best part is listening to the stories of the great catch.  Having clients who return year-after-year, gives me a great opportunity to hear the story over and over.

 

Having our own restaurant and bar is also an excellent venue to hear the stories, especially as the beer and margaritas flow.

 

And sometimes, oh my…how the story and size change!

 

There’s the quote that goes, “May I catch a fish so big that I don’t have to lie about the size when I tell the story later.”

 

Fishermen are among the best story-tellers on the planet.   Ever since the first cave-dwellers came back from the hunt to share exploits around the fires with the rest of the tribe, story-telling is part of the excitement and fun.

 

But, y’know, there really ARE some fish that need to be put on the scale and remove all doubt.

 

We finally got a very expensive IGFA scale that will weigh fish up to 2000 pounds and has to be certified ever year.  It’s come in handy a time or two.

 

Now, I don’t suggest you go out and do that.  For years, I got along very well and still carry some inexpensive hand-held devices in my tackle bag.

 

One is a little battery-operated hand-scale.  A number of companies make them and, although there are still numerical scales, the digital ones are handier and seem more accurate.

 

They have a big hook on them to hang the fish and, will give you a pretty accurate read-out of the weight of a fish.  They’re pretty handy to weigh your luggage as well.

 

They come in several sizes, but for Baja purposes, I have the ones that have 50-pound limits.  It seems to cover most Baja fish.

 

While normally not certifiably accurate, I’ve actually had several of my devices sent in to check their accuracy.  They were all within ¼ to ½ pound of our expensive certified rig.   Surely close enough!

 

Great for settling debates among friends. Great to decide who wins the jackpot over the largest fish and will be buying drinks at the cantina that night.

 

For larger fish up to 100 pounds, there’s the boga-type grips that look like a handled tube with a claw on the end.  They’re a little pricier and spring loaded.

 

They’re also a bit heavier, since they’re made of steel, but also fit easily in a tackle bag.

 

Using the trigger on the device, the hooks grab a fish by the lips.  When lifted, the springs inside the tube give a read-out of the weight.

 

Works great on larger fish although if it’s a long fish like a wahoo or dorado and you’re short like me, you might need to stand on something so the fish is off the ground.

 

But, it’s also handy if you plan to release the fish.  By “lipping” the fish, you minimize harming it.  You weigh it.  You take a photo and you release the fish to fight another day.

 

But, now you know the truth!  What you do with it and how you tell the story is still up to you.

Honest!

That’s my story (Really!  Believe me!!!)

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
 
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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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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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You Can’t Go To the Buffet Dressed Like That!

active-senior-vacation

YOU CAN’T GO TO THE BUFFET DRESSED LIKE THAT!

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 25, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

I’ve gone through several stages in life where I thought that I had “come of age” or had “finally arrived.”  Maybe that’s happened to you.

 

In high school, I thought it was when I went to the prom with the homecoming queen.  A year later, it was the head cheerleader.  In college, I thought it was when I bought my first car.

 

Even later, I had finally arrived when a law firm hired me and I had my own secretary and a view of downtown Los Angeles from the 28th floor.  Living large!

 

But looking back now, I realize my milestone took place when I was on vacation with my dad many years later.  I was in my 30’s

 

He turned to me and said a bit sheepishly,

 

“Hey, Jon, can you spot me 200 bucks?  I didn’t bring enough money.”

 

A pause.  A little smirk on my face.  A cocked eyebrow.

 

“Whaddya mean, you didn’t bring enough money?”

 

“Well, y’know how it goes.”

 

He smiled innocently and shrugged.  Then he said the following three words…

 

“Payback is hell.”

 

And he just smiled a S-eating grin.

 

And that was the moment.  I point to that as my life-changing moment.

 

And in a nano-second, I flashed on all the times dad had “spotted me.”

 

Countless.  Priceless. What any dad does for his kid with a hand-out asking for a dime or quarter…and later in life for so much more.

 

Quarters and dimes for the arcade and those mechanical horses in front of the supermarket.  All the “loans” for junk and things I “desperately” needed growing up.

 

All the myriad of  times he fished into his pocket for some change or a few bucks or reluctantly pulled out his checkbook.  Or mom’s checkbook.

 

And now here we are on vacation together and he’s asking me to float him some cash.

 

“Sure dad.  Don’t spend it on anything foolish,” I joked.

 

We both grin. I’ve arrived.  How can I say no? He knows it.  He knows it’s OK to ask.

 

And life will never be the same…in a good way.

 

Dad’s not always going to pick up the dinner tab or “forgive” loans anymore.  I’ll be paying my own way… or for him now.  And that’s OK!  I’ve truly arrived.

 

And the roles have reversed.  I’m happy and proud to be able to spot him some bucks and secretly inside tickled as hell.  Payback isn’t hell.  Not being able to accommodate him would have been hell.

 

My dad forgot to bring enough cash?   Really?

 

I’ve written numerous articles about taking the family or kids out on vacation.  But what about taking your parents out on vacation?  Easier?  Harder?  Survivable?

 

In some ways, especially as they grow older, it’s a bit like having your kids with you.  You can’t just run off and leave them alone.

 

But, it’s not like you can leave them at hotel day-care either.  You can’t give mom and dad some buckets and a shovel and say, “Make some sandcastles” while you read a book.

 

You gotta keep a respectful eye on them.  They’re adults, not kids.  They’re your parents.  You can’t lead ‘em around like kids.

 

It’s more like you’re their wingman.  You have to be there.  But NOT be there at the same time.  It can be trying.  And frustrating.

 

They’re gonna forget stuff.

 

Like money.  Like credit cards.  Room keys.  Fishing licenses and passports.  Most importantly their medications!  Don’t let them forget or slack on their meds.

 

In fact, make it a point to bring extra meds for them in case they lose some; luggage gets misplaced or you’re delayed for a few days.  You don’t want to have to look for prescription medications in a foreign country.

 

By the same token, without saying so, they’re depending on you to not just watch OVER them.  You have to WATCH them.  There’s a difference.

 

Are they getting too tired?  Overheated?  Too much sun?

 

They may tell you stories about the time “back in the day” when they caught 100 zillion tuna in an hour or hike 20 miles, but now one fish in the hot blazing sun might be their limit.  A walk to the pool and back might be enough.

 

Be gracious.  No one likes being confronted with their frailties or mortality.

If you’re all doing an activity, make it “age appropriate.”  Just like your kids.  You might be into zip-lining and body surfing.  Your 80-year old parents, maybe not so much.

 

The biggest thing we encounter here is adult children not watching their parents to keep them hydrated.   Beers are fine, but water is essential.

 

They’re not going to be able to keep up with the youngsters and we’ve sent several seniors to the hospital over the years for dehydration and heat exhaustion.  Simply not drinking enough water.

 

Especially with seniors, once you get behind the 8-ball on hydration, the consequences can be very very serious.  Even critical.

040909+oldsex

 

And then, there are the awkward moments that will test your patience.  Just like when you were a kid.

 

“Where’s your jacket?  You have to take a jacket because you might catch a cold!

 

“You can’t go to dinner dressed in your fishing clothes.”

 

“You only brought one pair of what?”

 

“You lost your what? Where?”

 

“You’re only telling me this now?”

 

“If you’re going to be out past midnight would you please call or leave us a message so we don’t worry.”

 

“You don’t know how to send a text? We bought you that new smart phone!”  

 

Or the really awkward one…

 

“You want to bring your new boyfriend/ girlfriend on the trip with the family?”  And stay in the same room?”

 

Payback is hell.  Grit your teeth and smile.  Enjoy the time.  Some day you can torment your own kids in the circle of life.

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.”

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