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Archive for the ‘taco’ Category

AM I MISSING SOMETHING?

Originally Published the Week of July 18, 2021 in Western Outdoor Publications

AM I MISSING SOMETHING?

         I was sitting in our restaurant the other day here in La Paz.  It’s kind of a big multi-story eatery over-looking the waterfront.  Sometimes, it’s nice to bring my laptop upstairs to work.

         I get some fresh breezes and sunshine. I get to people-watch all the goings-on downstairs on the beach.  And I get to visit with folks a bit too.

         It’s also difficult avoiding a bit of eaves-dropping and observing.

         So, there’s one table over there with a family of five.  Mom and dad.  Three kids.  Two girls and one boy.  Maybe ranging from 12 (the girl) to 9 (the  youngest boy).

         No one is talking.  At least not what I would call talking.

         All of them, mom and dad included, are all on their cellphones.  Tapping.

         I think some of them are actually communicating with each other via text on their phones rather than just looking up and saying something to the other family member.

         The only conversation I hear is a comment about what they are reading, but loud enough for the rest of the table to hear…and comment.  If anyone else is interested.

         Random comments just thrown out there like playing cards on the table…

         “I simply CANNOT believe it, Shelly broke up with Lance over the phone.”

         “Did you see where Danny and Elaine are finally engaged?”

         “Wait, hold on, I’m streaming the NBA finals and the Bucks are down by two”

         Even when the food arrived or when one of my servers asked them something, there was merely a perfunctory one or two-word response before getting back to whatever was no that tiny screen.

         Tap…tap…tap…thumbs flying.  Somehow mastered the ability to eat and type at the same time.

         But who am I to judge, right?   There musta been some really important critical communication going on at that table.  (“Joes’ family gets to go to Hawaii next month!” “Our neighbors got a new dog!” )

         There was another family next to them.

         Family of four.  One girl.  One boy. 

        Ages 10-12…maybe. Honest.  Hard to tell. 

       She kinda dressed like a boy…torn jeans…cropped hair…baseball hat.  He was dressed in lanky stovepipe pants that were pastel-colored with and hot pink t-shirt.

       Mom and dad were very nice and conversant when I visited the table to make sure everything was OK.

         Kids…hmmmm…

         Never took their sunglasses off.  Oozing attitude.  Bored. Disaffected.

         “Why are we here when we could be somewhere else?” unsaid behind the smirks.

         One of the boys said, “Can you turn down the music?  It bothers me.”

       Said what he said and I was “dismissed” to go turn down the Jimmy Buffet music I had in the background. 

       No “please” or “thank you.”

        Yessireee…right on it, young master.

         Parents not affected by the attitude.

         They had a hard time finding something on the menu for the boys.

         “Are your chicken wings as good as Buffalo Wild Wings? That’s our favorite and that’s the only place we eat them. “

         “Do you have more things on the menu to choose from?  Mostly, you have Mexican food and I don’t like tortillas.  Or cheese.  Or beans.”

         They eventually ordered plain hot dogs on buns and had two orange soda floats each and pretty much ate in silence.  Like they couldn’t wait to get out and why’d mom and and dad drag us out here? 

Sunglasses never came off.  One kid never took his ear plugs outta his ears.

         Down the other end.  Dad and two boys.  Young teens.  I wasn’t quite sure if both were his sons, but it might have been a son with a chum along on the trip.

         I got the impression this was an absentee dad.  Maybe a divorce?  Out to take his son out on a trip.  Some bonding time.

         I heard him talking to them about maybe some beach time.  How about a snorkel trip to swim with the sealions?   Or maybe do some fishing or kayaking!

         Hot dang!  We’ll have a great time, boys!  What d’ya say?

         He was really excited and trying hard to sell the activities.

         The boys…pasty-white complexions that never go outside…and stylishly-gelled hair…

         Wanted to know where they could get massages and a manicure and pedicure.  And if the hotel had NETFLIX.

         Dad was a bit crestfallen.  Understandably.

         Am I missing something?   I had to ask myself.  What’s going on?

         This kinda stuff is not uncommon from what I see…almost daily.

         I don’t think I’m missing anything.

         I think THEY are missing something.  The kids AND the parents.  On so many levels.

         I wanted them to get excited about the view of the ocean or the sunset or even an “OOOooo”and “Ahhhh…” over a dumb plate of nachos.   Or the anticipation of jumping in the water or going fishing.

         But no.

         Yea…there’s a lot missing these days.

         Maybe it’s just me.  I’m old and old school.  Not hip enough.

         My wife Jill says I’m “outdated” because I still use e-mail and all our grown kids use Instagram and Tik Tok and Twitter and Whatsapp and…and…and..

         Can’t keep up with all those social platforms.  I miss plain conversation with my own family.  Obviously, these families don’t miss it at all.

         Yup!  Life has just passed me by. But, I haven’t missed much. Just eavesdropping and watching the tables.  

         And taking it all in.  And thinking with a smirk of my own.

That’s my story!

Jonathan

______________

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

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

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

_____________ 

Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International

Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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

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

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

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

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

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

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

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ANOTHER GRAND LADY TAKES A BOW

Originally Published the Week of July 11, 2021 in Western Outdoor Publications

Hotel Perla on the La Paz Waterfront about 1965

          It came without fanfare as so many things did during the covid shutdowns last year.

         So many things were closed.  It was such a widespread occurrence that when things started to come back, you suddenly realized that some things just never opened up again. 

         Sad victims to businesses that Covid “wolves” pulled down.

         This afternoon, I walked down the historic Malecon waterfront of La Paz that extends about 2 miles along the eastern shore of La Paz Bay.  It’s a little more sedate than normal given there are still some Covid restrictions in place like so many other places.

         But, the popular stretch of roadway is filled with the usual restaurants, mom and pop eateries, watering holes, gift shops and tourist stops.  Strolling tourists meander.  Joggers and bikers huff and puff.

        Sidewalk cafes offer shade and refreshment al fresco under colorful awnings and umbrellas.  Locals  in cars cruise up one side and down the other in a decades-old ritual of life here along the waterfront .

         The blue waters of La Paz Bay lap gently up to the palapa dotted beaches and stately palms sway to the whims of the ocean breeze.

         It’s a Chamber of Commerce postcard.

         Except for one thing. 

         About mid-way down my stroll I hit the construction barriers and chain-link fence now surrounding the old Hotel Perla.  It’s the last original hotel in La Paz.

         Dating back to the 40’s, it’s the last elegant grand lady of the city. 

         It was built post-WW2 at a time when few cars moved along the waterfront  and there were more palm trees than people. Cobblestone streets were the norm just narrow enough for a wagon were the norm. 

         Folks didn’t usually fly into La Paz.  They took stately cruise ships.

s-l400

         Men wore white linen suits and panama hats to go along with fasionable pencil-thin mustaches.  Women wore dresses and heels.  Waiters stood by in waistcoated jackets.  One dressed for dinner. A lobster could be had for 2 dollars after the martini appetizers.  The margarita had not yet been invented.

         Celebrities like Bing Crosby, John Wayne, Lucy and Desi Arnaz might easily be sitting at the next table over.  Even the Queen of England stopped by for a visit.

         Ice was a luxury.  Air-conditioning usually meant opening the window to the fresh salty ocean breeze and the sweet smell of street vendors selling grilled carne. tacos.

         Mariachis didn’t just sing.  They serenaded.

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         It was a slower and more elegant time.

         And,  now I just stared at the now barely visible old Hotel Perla.   The last anchor to a long history. 

Her bustling sidewalk café now boarded up.  The Copacabana Club upstairs forever silenced.  The arched entry only a memory.

         Like so many things it just stopped last year.

         They stopped accepting reservations.  Employees who had worked for decades were shown the door.

         A big mega-corporation had purchased it and now plan to put a big gleaming white shopping center there along with a tower hotel in the middle of it.  There’s talk of a glass-bottom pool.

         All the local little family shops surrounding the hotel are all vacant.  No doubt to make room for and allow for the massive construction to come.

         I’m sad.

         Historic things act as an anchor to the past.  A reminder of what was and had been. 

I used to love going into the lobby of the hotel and spending time just looking at all the old yellowed-photos documenting the history of the hotel and, in many ways, the history of the city.

         It was always there.  And now it’s not. 

         Like a favorite actress that was always there.  Decade after decade And then a surprising obituary posted with no fanfare.

         There was no grand ovation or exit stage left to applause. 

         Yes, the grand lady of the Malecon had drifted into her latter years catering toward budget travelers and families.  The old actress now accepting bit parts as a matriarch or matron.  Now playing a supporting role for the current starlet of the day.

        But, no doubt the old gal was still a handsome dowager along a waterfront that with it’s growing trend toward upscale chic.

         How could Perla’s $80 rooms compete with the $400/ night rooms at the new place down the street boasting down comforters; bathroom TV’s and Netflix?

         Frankly, I don’t think it had to.  The old lady could have held her own against the new upstarts.

         But, that’s just me.  No one asked me.

         She’s the last.  At least as far as I can remember. 

         The old Hotel Los Arcos has been closed for a decade now.  Hotel Las Arenas is long gone.  In Cabo, I think of the old Hotel Hacienda and Hotel Cabo San Lucas.  All gems of their day and built by visionary men of their day.

         From another time.

         Nothing is forever and there’s no staying the crash of the wrecking ball and din of the jack hammer.  Even for all of us.

         And then, there are just the good memories of days gone by.  That which is remembered lives forever. 

That’s my story!

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:

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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TRAVEL TO MEXICO SOARS…Planes not so much!

          Mexico has become the go-to place for Americans as things open up.   It’s an easy get-away.  It’s economical.  It’s easy to get home.

         More Americans are choosing Mexico over the rest of the Covid-recovering world.

         Travel to Mexico is booming in all the usual places.  Cancun, Puerta Vallarta. Cozumel.  Cabo San Lucas. 

         It might not be back to where it was pre-2020, but it’s surely trending that way.  There are reports that flight travel, in general, is just about where it used to be.

         Just one problem.

         The airlines weren’t quite ready for it to boom back this much or this fast.

         Therefore, just as summer travel is hitting it’s stride, travelers are finding there’s some disconcerting hurdles to straddle

         Frankly, flights are getting delayed, changed and canceled with regularity.  Most recently American Airlines, Southwest and others have been cancelling over 100 flights per day. This does not begin to count the flights that are changed, delayed or re-routed.

         Insofar as my wife and I have dozens of clients per week flying here to La Paz to fish with our fleet, I would venture to say that at least 30% have had their flights changed…often several times from the original…and sometimes at the last minute.

         Maybe 40% have delayed flights where they either had unexpected waits at the airport or while sitting on the plane.

         Perhaps 10% have had their flights outright cancel.  Arriving a day or two later than planned, this has created issues with losing hotel nights as well as activities such as fishing. 

         If a replacement flight can even be found.  With many flights full, it’s not always a possibility.  Also, not all airlines fly every day.

         Going home to the U.S. has sometimes been an issue as well, although usually not as much.

         A big problem has been with connecting flights.  If one connecting flight is cancelled or extensively delayed, then there is no way for a passenger to make their next flight in a timely fashion.

         To some degree, the airlines point to the spat of bad weather that has hit the U.S. since the beginning of the year.

         However, not withstanding Mother Nature’s capricious whims, the bigger problem is a result of Covid.

         Many airlines layed-off thousands of employees last year.  Many employees were encouraged to accept retirement packages.

         Now with travel zooming back, like many industries, there’s a shortage of employees.

         Running an airlines is a little more complicated than teaching someone to flip burgers.

         One doesn’t suddenly find or train flight attendants in the classified section.  You can’t train a jet pilot overnight.  Aircraft mechanics and maintenance personnel don’t attend a 1 week night-class to get certified.  Ground crews can’t be found on Craig’s List.

         So, it’s just one more thing to keep an eye out for.

         There are several things you can do.

         For one, don’t assume the airline is going to tell you about changes.  Seems kinda logical and good business, but that’s not always the case.

I’ve had several clients who were never informed of changes until THE DAY of TRAVEL.

         I’ve had several others who never found out until they were AT THE AIRPORT.

         One was told, “Well…we’re sorry.  We tried to call you yesterday and also sent an e-mail, but no one answered.”  That’s right up there with “The check is in the mail.”

         Do yourself a favor and check…constantly!  Especially as the trip gets closer, don’t be the person who turns off their e-mails and instant messages the last day they leave the office.  Be pro-active and avoid surprises.

         Be prepared for the possibility of delay. 

         Bring a book.  Bring your medications.  Bring a jacket.  If there’s a bunch of delays and your flight isn’t until the next day, just assume that any nearby hotel will be full or just not worth the hassle. 

So, figure out what you’re gonna do for a few hours sitting in an airport chair or in the restaurant or bar.

         One of those goofy neck pillows isn’t a bad idea.  Even if you’re not having to spend time in the airport, if you’re stuck sitting on the tarmac in your plane for an extra hour or two, you’ll be grateful you had a neck pillow.

         The biggest thing to do is something I have advocated for years. 

         It’s trip insurance.  Google it up . There’s a zillion different companies and plans that will very economically insure pretty much anything on your vacation to missed flights; to missed kayak trips; to lost hotel nights or other plans .

         A week has not gone by lately where I was not assisting one of our clients help file a claim for compensation because of an airline SNAFU. 

         Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. 

That’s my story!

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:

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 »

YOUR NEGLIGENCE ISN’T ALWAYS MY EMERGENCY

STUFF HAPPENS…SOMETIMES WE CAN FIX IT. SOMETIMES YOU GOTTA JUST BITE THE BULLET and MOVE ON.

YOUR NEGLIGENCE ISN’T ALWAYS MY EMERGENCY

Originally Published the Week of June 15, 2021 in Western Outdoor Publications

         Over 3 decades of taking care of fishermen and travelers here in Baja, I’ve seen a lot of things. 

         Many things just cause me to scratch my head and say, “What were they thinking?”

         I’m as guilty as the next person. 

         There are times for all of us when the unexpected occurs.  We’re too busy or distracted or whatever…

         …and we do something dumb.  Something we normally would not have done or would not have happened under ordinary circumstances.

         Accidents happen.  Poop happens. Murphy’s Law punches us in the nose when we least expect.

         But, then there are other times when I don’t scratch my head.  It’s more like I throw up my arms and walk away.

         What’s that saying? 

         “You can’t fix stupid.”

         My wife, Jill, and I see hundreds of folks a year pass through and it’s a cavalcade of errors, foibles and guffaws on almost daily basis.

         There’s the “everyday” things that could happen to anyone.  Often easily rectified.  Or at least, we can help with a resolution.

         Someone forgets a phone charger.  Luggage goes somewhere unintended.  Someone forgets sunscreen or a hair dryer. A sweatshirt gets misplaced.  

          Someone has too much to drink. Or not enough (water!).

        That’s just regular stuff.  Maybe a small emergency for the client, but to us, it’s just another day at the office in paradise.

       Then, there’s the larger stuff. 

      Things in the grand scheme of things that are important and maybe expensive losses, but ultimately, there’s a remedy.  It’s just that for us, there’s not much we can personally do about it.

     You forget the charger for your laptop or you forget your laptop completely.  

     You lose your passport.  Or you forget your passport.  You lose your money.  You forget those expensive Maui Jim /Costa /Oakley sunglasses on the beach.

       You show up the wrong day for your flight. 

       Simple accidents that can happen to anyone.   Not much to do except move on. Take the loss and learn a lesson.

       But, then there are the ridiculous, mind-numbing things people do that have us asking if people leave their brains at home when they go on vacation.

       We can’t fix it.  We can’t fix you. 

       There’s no magic wand that I possess.  But these are things over the years that we’ve been asked to remedy.

       We can’t help you get out’ve a ticket when you get drunk and you flip off a Mexican police officer.  Or moon him.  Or flash your boobs at him.

       Or, you gave a cop “attitude” because you’re an American and you’re on vacation and it’s OK to have an open container in a rental car.

       Your friend said it’s OK for tourists to drink-and-drive in Mexico.   And the cop took your driver’s license AND gave you a ticket?

       Wow.  Imagine that!

       No, we can’t find the taxi you climbed into in the middle of the night.  You left your ipad, iphone or wallet in it. Telling me the cab driver was short, brown and wears a baseball hat doesn’t help us.  Or that he has a mustache.  

       And here’s an eyebrow raiser…

       Believe me, I don’t know what to do now that you tell me you forgot your colostomy bag at home.  I have spare hooks and fishing line.  As a habit, I do NOT have extra colostomy bags!

       Or that you forgot your heart medication.  Or you forgot your HIV meds. 

       Oh, they’re $600 here in Mexico?  Really?  No, I can’t get you a discount at the pharmacy.  No, I will not use my credit card to help you out.

       Oh, you forgot to bring any cash at all and you have no credit cards.  And you want me to float you a loan so you can go partying.  Only $2000 dollars.  Yes, I’m sure you’re good for it.  Yes, I know you’re my “Bro!”

       Just stay in the room and watch Mexican soccer on TV.

       And this happened once…

       Your wife always packs your bags for you.  And she forgot to pack extra underwear for you.  And now you insist you CANNOT go fishing unless you have new underwear!  You will NOT use your swimming shorts.  I guess I can call you a taxi to take you to Walmart.  Maybe…I’ll just let you suffer. 

       Here’s a dangerous one…

       You met a local girl who became your “girlfriend” while you’ve been here.  In an “error or judgement” somehow…someway you promised to bring her back to the states with you. 

       And she’s following you everywhere and her parents want to meet you?  Will I go with you to meet them and explain things?  Uh…I’m really busy.

       And then…

      Your last words were “hold my tequila” as you did a cannonball into the hotel pool. Unfortunately, it was the kiddie pool.  And your dentures flew out and you busted a rib.

      Or…

       You tossed furniture out the hotel window and broke a mirror and lamp inside the room and tore up the plumbing in the shower.  You can’t believe they’re throwing you out. 

       No, I can’t help you get a refund for the nights you missed or the fishing days you lost.  Yes, I believe they gave you a choice of calling the police or leaving the hotel.

       And a doozie…

       OK, you went to a “gentleman’s club” last night.  One of the “hostesses” there told you she’s really a grade schoolteacher back in Mazatlan.  Poor thing is just working to make enough money to fly back there to her mom. 

       And you gave her your credit card to buy a plane ticket so she could stop working like this.   

       Today you find out your card is maxed.  That’s how you were going to pay your rent?  And you went back to the club today and there’s no one named “Maria” that works there?  

       You think you might have been tricked?  Gosh.  Wish I could help you.

       NOT.

       Some things just can’t be fixed.

 

That’s my story!

signature transparent JR 4-21

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:

 

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 »

MARIA’s ALL NIGHT TACO STAND

Late night taco stands are community hubs in Mexican neighborhoods

MARIA’S ALL NIGHT TACO STAND

Originally Published the Week of June 16, 2021 in Western Outdoor Publications

          Way back in the day during my first years living down here, I had a favorite hang-out.  I was pretty much living hand-to-mouth back then. 

         Truth-be-told, most folks didn’t know I was guiding fishermen all day, but at night, I’d crawl into the back of my old Dodge Caravan.  It was usually parked in some quiet lot or sidestreet.

         Back then, it was home.  I’ve lived in worse conditions so it really wasn’t all that bad.

         I’m not a big drinker nor did I have the dinero to hang out in bars at night.  Not much to do there anyway. 

Back then, most bars didn’t have TV’s to watch and the ones that did had obscure soccer games going non-stop.

         Nope.

         My favorite place was Tacos Maria. 

         I guess, it’s the Mexican version of the all-night diner. Minus the coffee and apple pie.  But it had the best sizzling hot street tacos and salsas.

         Like all the best taco stands, Maria’s didn’t even get started until it was dark.  It wasn’t fancy by any means.  Definitely not a place you would have found on Google or Trip Advisor which didn’t exist back then anyway almost 30 years ago.

         But, this little box of ramshackle plywood with two open sides of counter-space; the corrugated roof; and string of haphazard white Christmas lights was the place to be.

         As lights would peek out from non-descript cinder-block homes that never knew a building code, Maria and her two sons operated on an otherwise lonely dark street corner.  Across the street a hazy yellow streetlight hummed from a tilting concrete pole.    

         If you had to ask about “Tacos Maria” you weren’t from the neighborhood.  A combination of a generation of years and road dust had long-since eroded the name off the side-wall.

Everyone knew the place anyway.

      Maria and her boys that worked with her, never posted hours.  They were open when they were open.  But, as far as anyone could remember, they were open 7 days a week all night and every night.

      There was a wonderful welcoming glow about the place on that dark street and it wasn’t from the streetlight.

     I would sometimes arrive early as twilight turned to dusk turned to night.  Often, I helped set up the scuffed plastic white tables and chairs that a beer company once donated and forgot to take back or replace.

     I’d help unload their battered mini-truck.  Or I’d help ice-down the bottles of Coke, Fanta Orange, 7-up and Strawberry soda that would be re-loaded throughout the night as patrons helped themselves. 

     When night arrived, Maria would fire up the grill.  A transistor radio served as the high-tech sound system

      Scratchy banda music seamed to drift with the beckoning aromatic fingers of roasted carne-asada through the nearby streets drawing folks from their homes.

     Showtime.

     It was wonderful to sit there with a plate of sizzling meat wrapped in a warm home-made tortilla slathered with all the fixings and a healthy dollop of one of Maria’s assortment of fresh salsas.

     I was often reminded of late-night burger places back home.

     But, a neighborhood Mexican taqueria is different.   Back in the U.S. people drifted in an out as they arrived, ordered, ate and then left.

     Here Maria’s was a neighborhood hub and social center.  I came to realize it was really a very important part of the community. 

     There was the nearby church. 

     There was the grammar school.

     And there was Tacos Maria.

     Like the TV show…everybody knows your name.

     And you knew everyone right back.

     In the early evening, families would arrive.  Couples and older folks came later.  

    Kids played and laughed with each other in the dusty glow of the streetlight. Mom’s gossiped and dad’s watched kids and told their own stories and jokes.  Even the neighborhood dogs seemed to know when to come out to romp and play.

     Young couples giggled.  Older couples sought out other older couples. The teens flirted and posed. 

     Young bucks brought their own beer.  No problem.

     The older solo uncles, aunties and grandparents were welcomed at anyone’s tables and made themselves at home.  

     I even remember there seemed to be a renegade chicken or two that ran around underfoot at times.  Escapees from someone’s yard no doubt.

     They would order off Maria’s handwritten menu written with a marker on a day-glo poster board.  But, it probably wasn’t necessary.

      Everyone knew the menu by heart and, as far as I know it never changed.

     Tacos would be served on plastic plates slipped into a plastic sleeve.  When someone was done, no dishwashing required. 

     Toss the old plastic. The plate was just cleverly placed in another sleeve ready for a new order.

     Folks would get their order, roust around in the ice chest for a soda and find a chair, table or sit along the two open-counters chatting and laughing with each other. Maria could chop, cook, serve and hold court like the neighborhood mom she was.

     Tell a joke; listen to a problem; dole out advice or wag an admonishing finger at you…that was Maria.

     Second and third helpings no problem.  Honor system.  You kept track of what you ate and drank and paid at the end.

     You would tell one of Maria’s boys how many tacos and Cokes you had.   They’d tell you how much you owed. A coffee and a shoe box seemed to serve as the cash register.  

     Over time, I got to recognize and know many of the regulars and many became friends.  In those early days, my Spanish was negligible.  An obvious outsider in the midst.

     Although I was often alone, no one sits alone forever at Tacos Maria. There weren’t enough tables anyway so you ended up sharing!

     Through the grateful introductions by Maria and the boys to the rest of the neighbors, smiles and hellos became handshakes and conversations. 

     I was “El Hawaiiano.” (The Hawaiian). 

     Rafa who drove a truck and his young family often came.  Rosario and Julio brought their new baby. 

     Mauricio and Celio would sometimes bring out a guitar and sing.  Victor, Ramon and Alejandro would always argue baseball and soccer into the night.   Misha and Fredo would seek me out and ask about the latest fishing. Chalo would pull up in his taxi cab between fares.

     Tacos Maria and the neighborhood are long gone.  I heard there’s a convenience store there now.  They fixed all the light poles and there’s a sidewalk and a paved two-way street there. 

     But 30 years ago, so far from home at the time, it was nice to feel welcome and part of the neighborhood at Tacos Maria for a few hours.

 

 

That’s my story!

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:

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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