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SHOPPING FOR ONE

 

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SHOPPING FOR ONE IN MEXICO

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 24, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

 

The times they are a-changing.

 

Jilly just sent me down to our corner mercado a few blocks away to pick up some things for home.  It’s your usual typical Mexican neighborhood market.

 

All the basics are there.  Meat, milk, tortillas, fruits and veggies.  They might not have 30 different kinds of mayonnaise or mustard like back in the U.S. but, they’ve got 3 or 4 to get you by.

 

But, little-by-little, I’m noticing some real changes in the aisles and shelves.  And it’s indicative of the changing culture and tastes of the locals.

 

Gluten-free tortillas?

Lactose free almond milk?

Non-GMO organic parmesan and cheddar cheese?

Basil…mint leaves…portabello mushrooms?

 

Are you kidding me?  But yea.  How long until there’s a sushi counter?

 

Back-in-the-day, I remember having to “smuggle” in stuff like ordinary cheese…Polish sausage…mushrooms…steaks…wasabi for sashime…Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage…bottles of wine!

 

All the things you couldn’t get back then and craved.  All of us would bring things down for our friends and neighbors too.  Everyone got a turn at being the “burro.”

 

Personally, I would bury the treasure deep in my luggage or ice chest.  Always put it under your underwear.  No custom inspector ever goes below the lair of underwear!

 

Or put a layer of women’s hygiene products over it.  It worked every time.  Inspectors stopped digging immediately! You’d watch them rustle around but when they hit the layer of underwear or sanitary pads…they’d look up at you.  Smile.  Close your luggage or ice chest and move onto the next person.

 

Of course, this was all pre-911.

 

But nowadays, you don’t have to bury booty in your luggage.  You can find almost anything.  It’s a little pricier, but when you really have to have extra virgin olive oil…well…

 

It’s a far cry from my first “shopping experience” more than 20 years ago, when I moved to a little pueblo south of the East Cape.  It was really not much more than a concrete block house on a dirt road.

 

The owners lived in the back.  A kids bicycle was propped against an outer wall. I had to step over the family dog who could care less except for his siesta.

 

But, it had a sun-faded sign that said, “Mini-Super San Juanita”and there weren’t many other choices.

 

Bare concrete floors housed some shelves and tables while some lightbulbs strung from the ceiling provided light in the windowless room.

 

Crates and 5-gallon buckets on a table held the fruit and vegetables of the day in varying degrees of ripeness.  Especially in the hot Baja climate.

 

Six potatoes…several dozen tomatoes…3 or 4 bunches of rather dark bananas…1/2 a bucket of white onions…5 heads of soft lettuce.  No worries about an artificial waxy “sheen” on the apples.  There was a soft layer of dust on everything.

 

A cold case held the really important stuff.  Of course, lots of Coke and bottles and cans of Tecate beer.  Plus lots of other sugary soft drinks.

 

Another cold case had cold cuts and some varying types of cheese and meats. The the only ones I could identify were hot dogs.

 

Not to say the meat was bad.  As I found out over the months, it was actually not too bad at all.  But, just at that moment I certainly couldn’t identify it as it was wrapped in plastic wrap with no labels.  The flickering light in the case also glowed over a couple flats of eggs.

 

Shelves had the usual staples.  Some cans of soups and sauces and vegetables.  Soap and shampoo.  Spam and of course, cups of Maruchan noodles.  And lots of candy and junk food.

 

Insofar as I lived 10 miles outside of the little village down a dirt road, I picked what I needed and proceeded to the register where a smiling lady (presumably Juanita ?) helped me out.

 

I needed something from the chilled meat counter.

 

That’s when I think I made her day.

 

I asked for eggs.

 

She said “How many, Senor?”

 

“A dozen, por favor.”

 

“Verdad?  Really? More than one?” She perked up.

“Uh… por favor. Claro!  Sure!”  

 

She explained to me that most people only buy 2 or 3 at a time.  She rang it up.

 

I also wanted some of that wrapped cheese too.

 

She handed me one slice.  And rang it up.  One slice.

 

I wanted the whole pack please!

 

Another big smile.  Cha-ching.  She rang up 10 slices of yellow cheese.

 

I also wanted to buy some hot dogs.  She went back to the case.  Took a knife.  Cut it open and pulled out…ONE hot dog.  Cold and wet!

 

I smiled back as she handed it to me on a piece of wax paper.

 

Uh…hmm…” Todos por favor.” 

“All of them. Can I have the whole pack of hot dogs?”

 

“Claro, senor! Of course!”

 

Seeing the bemused confusion on my face, she explained that most folks can only afford one hot dog…maybe one egg or two…a slice of cheese…even one cigarette or just one beer at a time.

 

I pretty much cut her inventory in half!

 

But, I think I made her day when I said that I also needed some paper.  I had eyed a stack of stationery behind the counter that included…you guessed it…individual pens…pencils…erasers and a ream of paper.

 

She picked up the ream and pulled out…one sheet! A single piece of paper.

 

I told her that I needed about 50 sheets!  It was her eyes that got wide this time.  She meticulously counted out…25…26…27… 28…

 

Fifty sheets of paper and put them in a zip lock bag for me and rang it up.

 

“Adios, Senor, come back soon!”

 

I walked out the door into the bright dusty sunshine with two bags of groceries that would hopefully hold me for a week.

 

I un-wrapped one slice of cheese and one cold hot dog and started to munch.

 

With a smile, I stepped over the sleeping dog.  Who still couldn’t care less.

 

That’s my story!

signature June '18 two 1

Jonathan
______________
Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004. Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico http://www.tailhunter.com. They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz Malecon waterfront. If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is: jonathan@tailhunter.com
Or drop by the restaurant to say hi. It’s right on the beach!
_____________
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International

Website:
http://www.tailhunter-international.com

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

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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBLvdHL_p4-OAu3HfiVzW0g

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

 

 

 

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Old-Car-Mexico

PLEASE STEAL MY CAR!

Originally published the Week of Aug. 11, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

So, this morning, I was checking out my “new car” here in La Paz. Proudly, I might add.

You see, unlike back in the states, where everyone has several vehicles in their driveway, in Mexico where most people do NOT own even a bicycle or depend on two legs or public transportation, we have a car. One car.

It’s a privilege. It’s independence.

In the times when we were without a car or our car was “in the shop” it puts a real crimp in the lifestyle. Try running several businesses from several locations without transportation.

Imagine your own lifestyle if you had no car. It’s a pain in the rumble seat that we often take for granted.

Anyway, our new ride is a dandy.

It’s ONLY 16-years-old.

It’s a Honda CRV. The sun has taken most of its’ paint. Tires look like they still have a bit of tread on it. Three hubcaps. One blinker light broken.

The after-market radio doesn’t fit. It is held into the dashboard with two metal shims wedged into the sides of the radio to keep it from falling into the dark void behind the dashboard.

The A/C barely whispers and it tries hard to lower the ambient temperature. But, the windows do roll down. Not always a given.

And the car runs. Sort of. It over-heats on hills and long drives. Might need a new radiator. Or not. We just won’t take long drives over hills!

In 23 years here, I’ve had 4 cars. I’ve never had a new one. No 4WD desert beast. No fancy SUV. Just basic Baja transportation.

New cars are expensive. New cars get beat up by the desert, sand, salt and water. Baja roads take their toll. It carries fishing gear, ice chests, groceries for the restaurant and so much more. Every day.

So, we keep it simple.

We got the car from a guy. Who knows a guy. Who knows a local police officer. Who knows a guy that imports old cars from the U.S. Cash only. It may or may not have papers.

If you ever want to know where old American cars and trucks go when even the used-car dealer doesn’t want them, look to Mexico. Or cars that get written off by insurance companies after disaster like Hurricane Katrina where all the vehicle get submerged…well…they’re all down here!

So, we buy our car from wherever. Whomever.

One of my cars only had 3 seats in it. And two windows didn’t work. Another only 2 doors that worked and had two different colored carpets in it.

Our last vehicle was 12 years ago.

It was purchased from a guy who desperately needed to leave town! Like RIGHT NOW! He already had a ticket for the ferry boat to mainland Mexico and said ultimately he needed to get to Guatemala.

So, he had to sell the car TODAY!  Please!  Not tomorrow!  Young kid who looked like someone might be after him. He wanted 8 grand.

The car was an ancient Range Rover.

It actually had papers, but without time to inspect it and only time to test drive it around the block, I told him no way I’d pay 8 grand. He pleaded. He had no choice. The ferry boat was leaving in a few hours.

We went back and forth. I got him down to $1500! From 8 grand. At that point, my wife said, not to take further advantage of the situation. He gratefully took the money…and ran!

And that’s how we get our cars.

We take them to “Fernando the Mechanic” who jury-rigs all the taxi drivers in town and can get cars running with duct tape and baling wire. He can make anything run for pesos and a case of beer.

He works out’ve his house. Little dead-end road near the arroyo. His wife runs a beauty salon in their living room. Fernando has the rest of the house. All the dogs in the neighborhood hang out there and the taxi drivers drink beer while they all visit and Fernando fixes their cars.

And off we go. Bouncing, creaking and rambling along.

And whenever something happens, Fernando can usually fix it.

Hehehehe…Sometimes we register it. Sometimes not.

You see the DMV down here is sometimes open. Sometimes not. You can wait for days. Sometimes you can wait months for registrations or license plates. So, lots of people drive illegally.

The cops know it’s tough to go through the DMV. So they’re pretty lenient most of the time. Live and let live.

So, we take our cars and use them! No coddling. Our cars are true Baja Burros.

When something, breaks, we call Fernando.

When the time comes and there’s simply no fixing our car any longer or not worth it, we literally ask someone to steal it!

We sometime just leave it where it had its last gasp or we get it to some back street corner.

We leave the keys in it. Doors unlocked. Windows down.

And it’s always gone the next day! SURPRISE! Hehehehe…

Some poor schmuck found a way to make it run or towed it. Or he used donkeys to haul it away! And now it’s HIS problem! Someone else thought they could make it run again. God bless ‘em.

I don’t have to haul it. I don’t have to junk it!

We never report it. Sometimes it’s not registered so no big deal.

I’ve seen one or two of our cars from time-to-time around town.

One old mini-van was in someone’s yard up on blocks being used as a dog house. Another was stopped on the side of the road with the hood up and the guy was pouring water into the radiator.

And I just smile. Glad someone was able to use it.

We find another car and start over.

Life in Mexico!

That’s my story!

signature June '18 two 1

Jonathan

______________

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

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


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

 

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WHEN NOTHING WAS EVERYTHING

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WHEN NOTHING WAS EVERYTHING

Originally Published the Week of Aug 28, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

Back in the day, I used to teach fishing seminars and give fishing classes at the venerable old Hotel Las Arenas east of La Paz and about 30 miles north of the East Cape.  Sitting on a small hill on about 9 miles of beach, it looked right across at Cerralvo Island.

 

It’s been closed for many years now, but it was a gem.

 

Some sprocket guys from Europe in skinny tight black pants and “Flock of Seagulls” bleached-gel haircuts bought it to turn into a Club Med or something (“We don’t want ‘stinky fishermen’ in our hotel!” they told me.), but it never got off the ground.  LOL.

 

I’m glad it didn’t.  The old girl was too good for that indignity.

 

The last 10 miles were on a dirt road. As the hotel was built on the reverse slope of a hill facing the sea, you never saw the hotel until you came over that last rise.

 

And suddenly you were there!

 

What a place.  Old Mexico.

 

An oasis of two long white 2 story buildings nestled in the palm trees with curved tile roofs.  An administrative building where Patricia, the manager checked you in; assigned rooms and gave you the fishing schedule.  (She loved getting a bottle of red wine!) And a dining hall, bar and the swimming pool.

 

Carry your own bags, Senor.

 

You know how hotels have marquee signs that tell you all the amenities they offer?  (pool…cable TV…etc.)

 

The wooden sign for the Hotel Las Arenas would have been funny.

 

“Welcome to the Hotel!” 

No designer beds. No laundry. No in-room coffee maker or hair dryer.  No TV.  No ice machine.  No phones.  No room-service.  No spa.  No Air.

 

What else did you need?

 

You kept the windows open and let the breeze blow through.

 

The hotel had thick old walls that held out the Baja heat and cool tile floors you could lie on after a long day of hot fishing.  The tiles would simply pull the heat out’ve your body while a tired overhead ceiling fan bumped and whirred.

 

But, the hotel had the three most important things in a hotel back then.  It had a bar.

 

It had a great bartender who had a mighty arsenal of all the drinks he could concoct.  And Gabriel had a great memory. He not only knew everyone’s name he could remember your favorite drinks.

 

And it had ice.

 

No craft beer.  They had Corona, Pacifico and Modelo.  They were cold and that’s all that mattered.

 

It had an old tile pool that was just deep enough to reach your shoulders.  Any deeper and your beer would get wet.  No one swam. That would have been bad form.

 

Everyone just sort of bobbed with a beer bottle in hand.  It wasn’t a swimming pool.  It was a bobbing pool.  A dozen fishermen with a Corona-buzz would have laughed you out’ve the pool if you started actually swimming.

 

No menu.  It was whatever the great kitchen staff cooked.  But it was always fresh and no one complained and always centered around homemade Mexican dishes the Mexican moms in the back whipped up.
Tacos…enchiladas…bistec ranchero…ceviche…guacamole…fresh fish and salsas… You have not eaten until you’ve had a Mexican mom cook for you!

 

You could always smell the fresh tortillas, chorizo and other spices across the compound.

 

Three hearty meals a day.  If you missed it, you waited until the next one.  It was always communal and a great social event.  No one missed!

 

Breakfast was early because everyone wanted to get going fishing.  Lunch was a bag carried down to the waiting pangas on the beach along with ice and your fishing gear.  Those were exciting mornings.

 

Dinners were always fun and lively after a long fun day of fishing.

 

You definitely did not skip dinner which was always followed by bull-sessions around the pool or back on your room balcony to watch the sunset over the ocean.

 

The lights of the hotel would wink on while the setting sun painted the Baja twilight.

 

With no TV’s and in the halcyon days before laptops, ipads and smartphones, people actually talked.  After a day of fishing; a full happy tummy and some sipping tequila nothing better than fun conversation among fishing friends.

 

No one retreated to isolation unless it was to sleep or read a good book.

 

With nothing else around, darkness would come quickly.

 

But the ambience always held the congeniality of a campground as ambient laughter or the sweet smell of someone’s cigar wafted through the evening.

 

Like all fishing trips, mornings would come early.  Sometimes too early.

 

With no alarm clocks in the rooms or cell phones to set a wake-up, one of the staff would knock on your door about 4:30 a.m.  to tell you to come down for breakfast.

 

One evening, I had just gone to bed.  Having about 20 anglers there at the hotel taking one of my seminars, I was beat.

 

When you’re tired, the nights go quickly.  It seemed like I had just gone into deep sleep when I got the wake-up knock on my door.

 

I opened the door and Salvador, the night manager told me it was time to get up.  It was still dark.  Of course.

 

So, I sleepily went around from room to room and woke everyone up as was my habit when I had a group.  I then went back to my own room to get ready for the day and get down to breakfast so we could get to the boats.

 

It was then, Salvador came running frantically up to my room.  In a panic. It wasn’t 4:30 in the morning.  It was only 2 a.m.!!!!

 

Salvador’s battery-operated clock in his office had stopped.

 

Guys were already coming down with fishing gear…bleary eyes…and looking for the coffee pot.  If anyone had actually looked at their wrist watches, they’d have figured something was wrong.  But no one questioned the wake-up!

 

He and I crazily had to run around to all the room to tell everyone they could go back to bed!  We also had to tell the hotel staff as well, as they had already started cooking breakfast! Turn off the ovens and stoves! Put the eggs back in the frig.

 

There was a little grumbling and a few choice words were thrown my way, but everyone was more than happy to go back to bed.  Me included.

 

I can’t imagine that happening these days at a Hilton or a Wyndham Hotel.

 

Old Baja, back in the day.  You really had nothing, but you had everything.

Thats my story!

signature June '18 two 1

Jonathan

______________

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

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


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

 

 

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Everything But the Kitchen Sink

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Everything But the Kitchen Sink

Originally Published the Week of June 28, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

In my last column I chatted about some “hacks” to get your best airline flights if you’re coming down here. Given that summer vacations and fishing trips are now upon us, here’s some suggestions about actually packing for the adventure.

There used to be the times when I would personally bring down two rod tubes and 8-14 rods and reel set ups. I remember the days of 70-100 quart ice chests too. What was I thinking?

Those days are long past. My old back can’t haul those anymore. My tolerance of running through crowded airports or standing in line has diminished as well.

Besides that, airlines charge a mortgage; a small farm animal; and first-born child for being over-weight…over-sized…over-long…Holy Moly!

Fortunately, over that years, I’ve discovered that I can get by with carrying a lot less.

Sure, there’s the inclination to bring all your toys. The latest reels, rods, lures and gadgets. But chat with whomever you are booking with.

What do you REALLY need? And perhaps more importantly, what will you actually use?

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A perfect example is lead.

I’ve had guys bring down a couple of pounds of lead. In a whole year here in La Paz, I MIGHT use 6 total oz. of lead. That’s it! If they had asked me ahead of time, I would have told them.

If fishing with a partner, do each of you honestly need 8 trolling feathers per person? Or a giant 3-pound filler spool of 60-pound test line? Or 10 casting irons each?

 

I don’t know about you, but that’s too much to carry and my buddies and I can share without taking up all that space and dead weight.

Same with coolers. Figure out how much you really want to take home or need to take home. An empty 40-quart ice chest, with nothing in it but air, weighs 8-10 pounds.

If it has wheels, it weighs 12-18 pounds. If it’s one of those 5-day coolers, it weighs even more. If your airline weight limit is 50 pounds, that doesn’t leave much room for frozen fish.

For most of you, you’ll be home in a few hours the same day you leave Mexico so your fish only has to stay solid for that long.

Seriously, consider the lighter more efficient soft-sided coolers. Or one cooler for two of you.

I’m not talking about the flimsy ones you bring ice-cream home from the market. Yeti and other companies make some nice soft ones, but they’re really pricey. I’ve found that American Outdoors, Nor Chill and others make some awesome soft-coolers for a fraction of the price. They don’t weigh much and I’ve had stuff stay frozen for as long as 3 days in ours.

And just a word of common sense. While TSA and other security measures are not as relatively drastic as post 911, there are certain things you still should not try to carry-on into the plane.

I’ve had folks incredulous that they were separated from machetes, Leathermen multi-tools, fillet knives, bait harness needles, lures and hooks. Look, if it’s sharp pack it in your suitcase. Don’t bring it aboard. On year, I had a guy try to bring his own portable anchor. FAIL.

Also, Mexico inspectors are a lot less forgiving than TSA. Whether I agree with them or not, I’ve been or seen folks relieved of tactical flashlights, masking tape, fingernail clips and dikes. Be forewarned.

For actually packing, there’s a few tricks to lighten the load.

Try rolling your clothes instead of folding them. You’ll fit more and your clothes will have less tendency to wrinkle. Although I really don’t care if my fishing shorts and shirts are wrinkled! Inside a roll is a nice place to keep fragile things too.

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I’ve had a lot of guys and gals over the years, buy cheap t-shirts at the swap meet or outlets. Two bucks apiece or something.

They wear them once and then leave them in their rooms upon departure. Grateful cleaning staff loves finding barely used items. And for you…That much less to bring home.

By the way, if you are bringing stinky clothes and shoes home, toss a dryer sheet into them and it’ll help relieve the smell.  Also, a cheap shower cap works great for smelly shoes and flip-flops.

Also, do you really need the family-sized shampoo or toothpaste? Hand lotion or sunscreen? If you’re only here a few days, do the math.

Bring the travel size or, buy it here when you hit the markets. You have to stock up on beer anyway, right?

There was a time when you really needed to bring whatever you’d need. There was no guarantee that you’d find whatever you’d forgotten in the local stores.

But, for the most part now, everything from toothbrushes and shaving razors to your favorite flower-fragrance shampoo is available here in Baja. The markets contain things you would never have thought of even 10 years ago like craft beers, Japanese wasabi; gourmet cheese and Angus beef; imported wines and fancy mineral waters.

COSTCO, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Home Depot plus good Mexican chain stores are everywhere. You can even get a hot dog while you shop.

I don’t know what happened to the “frontera” (frontier), but this isn’t your daddy’s Baja no more! You can get almost anything. Beyond that, you probably didn’t need anyway.

So pack light and save the extra room for bringing back fish fillets!

That’s my story!

signature June '18 two 1

Jonathan

______________

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

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


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

 

Read Full Post »

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FLYING LIKE A BOSS

Originally Published the Week of June 20, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

Summer vacation is upon us and I thought I’d share some travel tips if you’re planning on coming down to Baja or traveling into Mexico.  After almost 25 years of running trips here and thousands of clients, we’ve accumulated some things that might make your planning a trip a little less frantic and stressful.

 

My wife, Jill is quite the travel ninja for booking travel.

 

So, credit-where-credit is due, a good many of these are her tips.  In addition to living here in Baja, we also travel extensively.  We also fly extensively and (for better-or-worse) spend over 300 days a year in hotel rooms!

 

For flights, Jill starts looking and comparing prices right away.  Don’t bust your chops and stress by waiting until the last minute.  She starts looking.  She does not necessarily purchase.  This is her starting point.

 

Travel experts say you should be ready, however, to purchase anytime from 50-52 days out from your trip.  That’s the most likely time to find the lower prices.

 

You waited? The WORST time is 3-7 days out.

 

Be prepared to pay a premium if you sat on your hands.  That’s when there’s just a few seats left.  The airlines can jack the prices knowing they’ll be able to sell those seats. . . to someone like you!

 

In our experience, the most crowded flights are Fridays to fly out and Sundays to fly back.  For obvious reasons.  It’s the weekend.  It’s a resort area.  Everyone needs to be back to work by Monday.

 

Sunday is also the most expensive day to fly.

 

When I would fly in and out’ve Cabo, I had a neat trick.

 

I used to plan flying out of Cabo on Sundays in the middle of the crowds. However, I  would tell my office in Califorania that they might not see me until Tuesday or Wednesday.

 

On Sundays, I’d go to the Cabo Airport and check the lines.  If the flight was full, I’d offer the airline people to give up my seat.  For a price!

 

They were always happy and I would usually walk away with one or two free hotel nights; vouchers for meals; AND…free vouchers to fly again ANYTIME!!!

 

Sometimes, I’d do it again on Monday when I returned to the airport and SCORE again if the flight was over booked!

 

There was a time, back-in-the-day, where I had a handful of free vouchers to use and didn’t actually pay for a flight for a good 4 or 5 years!   All from selling my ticket back to the airlines.

 

Friends who run travel agencies told me that Tuesdays are the best day to actually push the button and purchase tickets.  If you can, night flights are the cheapest flights of the day.

 

Another little “hack,” if-you-will, that my wife discovered is how to best use your accumulated travel points.

 

Do NOT waste all those precious points to buy your ticket.  If you do that, the airlines always applies it to the highest price tickets they sell.  It’s a waste.

 

What she does is purchase the cheapest ticket she can find online or on the phone.  If possible, she’ll use the airline credit card so we get travel points.  PLUS, there’s sometimes a discount PLUS, if it’s an airline like Alaska, the companion fare is discounted.

 

Then, Jill will use the points to UPGRADE us to first class to go in style and live large.  Yes, I believe I will have another glass (not a plastic cup) of champagne!

 

Sure, the seats and perks are nicer up in the forward cabins, although I’d much prefer the burgers and cheese plate back in economy over the foo-foo food they sometimes serve in first class.  But, for me, the best part is that first class also has better baggage allowances.

 

Often you get one or two free bags or at least they will often discount your extra luggage.  That’s well worth it when you’ve got fishing gear, rods, SCUBA gear, etc.

 

It might just be me, but I think they also handle the 1st class baggage better too.  But another little tip is that I get some of those stickers that say “FRAGILE” and I put those on every piece of luggage.

 

It couldn’t hurt.  At least, I hope to makes the baggage handler think twice before he shot-puts my suitcase or tackle box across the tarmac.

That’s my story!

signature June '18 two 1

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 
www.tailhunter-international.com

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


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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

“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 »

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.”

Read Full Post »

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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