Posts Tagged ‘christmas’


Mexico night sky


Originally Published the Week of December 9, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

I was only going to be in Baja for a year. Has it been almost twenty?


The longer I am here the more Christmas seems to change a bit.   The early years were surely different.


I was living out in the “country” then. Well…10 miles down a dusty dirt road far off the pavement in the cactus and Baja scrub in a little remote Mexican bay. Far away from the city lights, I worked for a little off-the-grid hotel that only had 4 rooms.


And that’s all there was out there. Today, you still have to drive down a dirt road to get there and the hotel is closed and being re-claimed by the Baja sands. As so many Mexican dreams go.


I had very little then, but I often felt like I was king of the world at times. I was only half-a-step from living out’ve my old Dodge van at the time with fishing rods and an old one-room adobe. “Living the dream,” as many would later tell me!


I spent most nights sleeping outside in a hammock under a weathered palapa made of sticks.   Jimmy, my little dog and I lived much by candlelight and a propane stove. No phones. No electricity to speak of.


And I remember it was Christmas. In the Baja. In Mexico. So far from Christmases remembered.


I remember the brisk wind and the clear starry skies overhead where clusters of the galaxies were so thick as to appear as if a huge black canvas had been lightly airbrushed with white.   With no city lights, shooters streaked criss-crossing tracers from horizon to horizon.


I wore the same faded shorts and some awfully thin flipflops that had long since lost their tread. I’m sure I smelled like fish most days which is how I earned my living for the hotel taking their few clients fishing and diving.


No one ever complained about how I looked or smelled. I was part of the landscape in my ratty straw hat and cut-off t-shirts.


Mesquite was abundant so it was often just as easy to cook over a jumbled stone firepit I had made outside my little casita on the bare ground. It wasn’t much more than a rocky rise of hardscrabble Baja dirt. But…during the day, the little spot had a zillion dollar view of the beach and bay that would make a realtor drool.


But not tonite. A moonless crispy December night in Baja. I could hear the waves of the bay lightly crashing against the sands down the beach somewhere in the darkness below. With barely more than the stars above, the orange glow of my little fire fought a losing battle to penetrate the darkness.


But all is calm. My fire bright. Noche Buena. Christmas eve.


I pulled my thin flannel shirt a little tighter against the chill. Me and and Jimmy the dog. I tossed another branch of twisted mesquite into the flame.


I had come a long way from American cities and holidays past. Never in my wildest dreams would I have envisioned spending Christmas like this. Life takes funny turns. There’s a thin debateable line between an idiot and genius.


No tree. No carols. But, I had nature’s own magnificent light show overhead and the dancing flames of a mesmerizing campfire to hold gaze into.


Completely alone but not the least bit lonely. On Christmas. And it felt like it just couldn’t get any better.


And then, just outside the ring of flickering firelight, a shuffle of feet. A bit of laughter. Faces and smiles materializing on the other side of the orange haze of whispy smoke. The spectral ghosts of a Dicken’s Christmas?


“Que onda? Que tal, Jona! Feliz Navidad! Felices fiestas, Mano!”


It just got better.


Some of the commercial fishermen and their wives had trudged up the rise from the beach. Several packs of beer in hand and tattered beach chairs. Uninvitedly always welcome. Saw my fire. Come to join. Come to laugh.  Share the warmth of a chilly evening.


My Spanish was barely elementary back then. But, some things are universal. Bridges are easily crossed with smiles, high-fives, back slaps and shared fraternal cervezas. Especially on Christmas Eve.


They already had an obvious head start on me. No formalities needed. They plopped down around the fire and it was on. No need to break the ice. I toasted and laughed and did my best to sing.


In any language…”Noche Buena” is still “Silent Night.” I had no clue about some of the other rowdy rancho songs they sang.


We whooped at the top of our lungs and lifted Tecate cans to health and family, love, life and the star-filled night. Or nothing in particular.


You know that saying about “Dance like no one is watching and sing like no one can hear?” There’s a special child-like exhilaration attached to that.


Of all things, they started singing “Jingle Bells” in Spanish. I doubt my amigos even had a concept of a sleigh or reindeer or even snow. Ni modo…no matter! One more time with feeling from the top!


Then they asked me to teach them the song in English. Por favor!


Me leading! Oh my…ever fall over laughing? I don’t think there had ever been such a bawdy version…Christmas angels winced but couldn’t help smiling…







HO! HO! HO! (Everyone jumped in on that part with gusto!)



And we laughed and snorted and guffawed and stomped our dusty feet. I stared into that campfire and thought of perhaps another chilly night in the desert many eons ago. That brought others to a spot in the desert.


Some wise guys and sheep ranchers. Amigos of different languages and cultures. Pulled in by the flame and warmth of a beckoning light.


And here we were… A bit of light in the darkness on a windswept beach knoll in Mexico. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. As primal as that. Some friends. A few beers. Laughs and smiles. A song and and a welcoming campfire in the dark. Christmas Eve and all was right.


Noche Buena. Noche excelente.




Only in Mexico! Andale and Feliz Navidad, mis amigos! God bless us everyone. Peace to you my fish brothers and sisters.



Somewhere even the angels were singing along. Once more with feeling.


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 riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!


Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International



TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor


Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO


Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

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


from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863


Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:


Tailhunter YouTube Videos:


“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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“Small Space Little Effort Big Impact”

So little goes a long way with so little effort!

So little goes a long way with so little effort!

It starts building up pretty fast!

It starts building up pretty fast!


Originally Published the Week of December 11, 2013 in Western Outdoor News

A few months ago, I got a call from a friend here in La Paz who does some wonderful work with destitute Mexican kids that truly live on the fringe of our little city in more ways than one.   Many were in an orphanage.

She said, she was having a fiesta of sorts for the kids to celebrate that some of them were going to their First Communion which was a big step.  It wasn’t much, but she was putting all her heart into giving them something nice.  She was reaching out to some of the businesses in town for help.  There would be about 80 kids to feed.

On the phone,  she told me that one dive shop was donating several cakes.  Another fishing operator was pitching in for cookies.  A store had several dozen donuts.  All good and wonderful.

My first thoughts were GACK and CHOKE!

She asked if we could help and if she could put me down for about 5 pounds of candy!

I told her that I couldn’t do that.  The last thing they need is sugar.   Especially, poor kids.  Actually… It’s the last thing any kid needs.

Hey…look at my belt line and I’m no stranger to donuts and cake and cookies, but I asked her, “C’mon!  Is there any other food going to be served?”

I was being a Grinch.  There was a pause.  Then, I told her I’d buy 100 apples instead.

There was another pause.  Apples?  For a fiesta?  She said no one had ever passed out apples.  This was a FIESTA!  Would we donate some pan dulce (sweet rolls) maybe?

Sorry.  I told her, I’d go buy some apples and I’d bring them by her office that weekend.  And that’s what I did.  No big deal.  Go to store.  Fill bags with apples.  She thanked me when I saw her, but  could tell, it was a reluctant thanks.

I mean, I get it.  Sure.  When you and I opened our Halloween bags…apples weren’t exactly high on the list, right?

I didn’t think any thing else of it.  Apples.  Yea.  Next project.  Did my good dead.  Yawn.

On Monday, she called me.  She told me to check my e-mail right away.  She was excited.  OK…open…click…here we go…

Pictures came up on my computer screen.  It showed  a party and little Mexican kids running around a hardscrabble concrete and dirt floor…delightedly chasing…APPLES!!!  There were more photos of kids sitting in the dirt leaning against walls…eating APPLES!!! Laughing kids with apples in their hands!

To all this was a note, “Jonathan, muchas gracias for the apples!  They were the big hit of the party.  Many of these children had NEVER eaten an apple before.  Thanks for the great idea!”

Never eaten an apple?  Kids…7…8…9 years old.  Never eaten an apple.  Think about that.

I told my wife.  She thinks about stuff like that all the time.  She’s got the big heart.  I’ve got the fat head.  She wants to save every kid.  Every bunny.  Every puppy.

She thinks I don’t know that she’s got all kinds of secret donations going.  I know we’ve adopted some kids.  She sponsored a goat for one village.  A cow to another.  She’d held charity functions at our restaurant.  God bless her.

She heard the story of the apples and wanted to do more.  She came into our office one day and said she signed our business in La Paz up as members of “Pack for a Purpose.”

Oh-oh…what has she gotten us into?

Actually, it’s pretty easy.  She said it’s a loose organization geared toward travelers.  You find out where you’re going.  You find out what folks need.  You stuff a little extra in the extra space in the luggage.

Extra toothbrushes…deflated balls and a pump…pencils and notebooks…Things we take for granted (the apple idea) that mean so much to others.

She said our Baja fishing clients bring down empty ice chests all the time. They fill them with their frozen fish to bring home.

Clients still have to pay the airlines for them as luggage.  Even if they are empty.  So, why not put something “IN THEM?”

She arranged for little notes to be put into all the envelopes we send to our fishing clients when they book with us.  It told them all about her idea to “Pack for a Purpose.”

I can’t take credit for what happened over the next few months.

But, in about 3 months, Jill collected and distributed close to 300 pounds of  notebooks, papers, colored pencils, crayons, bike helmets, pumps, baby clothes, backpacks, toothbrushes, baseball hats, balls,  t-shirts, tennis shoes, kids books, teddy bears, sweaters, and more.

Pretty much all of it new.  Just “extra” stuff that clients and friends had around the house like sweaters that were never used or that pair of shoes that never fit or the 20 boxes of #2 pencils from the closet.

Or from the dentist who gets boxes of toothpaste samples or the restaurant guy who ordered 5 dozen too many t-shirts with his logo on them…all medium!  The elementary school teacher who has a drawer load of extra colored pens and pencils and the end of the year.

There are times when we have a pretty good pile of stuff in the office!

Thanks to the generous hearts and empty ice chests of our clients.  And my wife playing Santa during the year.

Making little parts of the world better.  Small spaces.  Big impacts.  Little efforts.  One apple at a time.

God bless for a safe and happy Christmas and holidays!

If you’d like more info:  www.packforapurpose.org.  Or, if you’re coming to visit us in La Paz, give my wife Jill and shout:  tailhuntress@tailhunter-international.com

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 riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!


Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International



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


from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863


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

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttp://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“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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