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Archive for the ‘road trip’ Category

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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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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SO CLOSE BUT SO FAR

SO CLOSE SO FAR

This might be your first visit or your 20th visit. You really think you know more about fishing these water than these guys who have fished in one spot their whole lives?

SO CLOSE SO FAR

Originally Published the Week of Aug. 13, 2017 in Western Outdoor News

There’s an old saying that goes something like:

“If you believe something will work, chances are it will.  If you don’t believe in it, it probably won’t work.”

I have often believed that when it comes to “local knowledge,” there’s nothing like it.

It’s home court advantage.

It’s the dealer’s table.

Home team’s locker room

It’s the golf pro’s home course

It’s being on a first-name basis with the owner of the butcher shop

It’s the difference in having “an edge” whether real or imagined.  Sometimes “imagined” is all it takes.

Like having your favorite baseball hat or the pink striped neck-tie.

Or tying your shoes a certain way before the bowling league

Or that raggedy-A fishing t-shirt your family wants you to destroy.

You know it works and you could care less whether anyone believes you.

It’s like that down here where we live in La Paz.

We own and run two fleets of pangas.  Technically, they fish the same waters…the Sea of Cortez.  In fact their areas of operation often overlap.  One works more north of the city.  The other works more south of the city.

There’s a ven-diagram patch-of-water, however, that is common to both.

Use the same boats.  Fish for the same fish.  Dorado, tuna, billfish, wahoo, etc.  Your typical Baja sportfishing fare.

Heck, many of my captains in one fleet are related by blood or marriage to the captains in the other fleet.

However, I have always found it amusing that each fleet, claims the other fleet “doesn’t know how to fish!”  Or how their uncle, cousin, brother-in-law in the other fleet “fishes like an idiot.”

It’s always said with a roll-of-the-eyes or a grin, but the words carry sincerity.  Strangely, they do fish differently.

Same waters.  Same fish.

One believes in only using feathers to troll.  The other fleet would rather drag Rapalas behind the boat.

One believes in heavily chumming the waters.  The other thinks, that’s overdoing it.  The fish will get full.  They will lose interest. Only one or two pieces of chum in the water at a time please.

One fleet readily uses circle hooks.  The other thinks clients lose too many fish with circle hooks.

One likes to troll with the lure way way way back in the wake at high speed.  The other insists lures should only be fished slowly close to the boat.

One fleet considers fluorocarbon to be golden.  To the other fleet…meh…pretty much indifferent.  Flurocarbon is expensive in Mexico and a waste of money.

One fleet catches bait one piece at a time with a single hook.  The other prefers Lucky Joe’s and Sabiki rigs to catch several at once.

You get the idea.

And my comment about “homecourt advantage” and “feeling lucky?”

Many of my captains have worked for us almost 2 decades so I’ve fished with all of them.  They will certainly suggest you fish their way, but if you want to try something different, go ahead.  They’ll grudgingly tell you it’s OK.

Afterall, you’re the boss.  The client is always right.

You want to use some of those techniques that the other fleet uses?  Go ahead.  Oh, you fished a lot in Loreto or the East Cape and want to fish the way they fish?  Sure.

Oh, wait, you’re an “expert” fisherman and you’ve fished all over the world and read all the books about Baja and you want to throw lures all day?  Be my guest.

The captains are very accommodating.  They know who butters their bread.

But, at the end of the day, nine out’ve ten times, the clients who fished the way the captains suggested do better.  The ones who realized during the day that other boats are catching fish and make the switch to let the captain do his thing, do better.

If you want to fish, there’s lots of different ways to fish. If you want to catch fish, there’s nothing like local knowledge.

It might not make sense at first why one method works better than another.  The captains in a certain area have probably fished that area all their lives and for generations.  They have fished no other areas.  Send them 100 miles away to Cabo San Lucas, and a lot of them might be lost.  I’ve seen Cabo captains come up here and fall on their faces as well.

A certain technique works because the locals believe it works.  Whether it’s logical or not.  I put my fishing day in the hands of the local.  I listen to what he says.  And I will NOT throw away my lucky t-shirt either!

That’s my story

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

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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