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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

THE REWIND BUTTON

Too have been there in the 60’s when Cabo was just a beach…when people like Bing Crosby walked the halls of Hotel Las Cruces…when big fish were the norm in the Sea of Cortez and in the heyday of such great places like the Serenidad Hotel when the Johnsons hosted the Flying Samaritans and the aroma of barbecued pork could wafted down the coastline.

THE REWIND BUTTON

Originally Published the Week of Feb. 15, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

I was asked the other day how I might have done things differently now that I’ve marked more than 20 years working and living in Baja.  I had to think about that because I’ve never given it much thought.

 

I confess much of my time, especially the early years, was spent dealing with the immediate present.   I was more concerned with things like, “Where is my next meal coming from?”   Or, “Dangit, do I have enough gas in the boat to make it back to the beach?” And, “How far can I make 200 pesos stretch until I get paid?”

 

Whew.

 

I gratefully have not had thoughts like that in a long time.  Life doesn’t guarantee anything.  I don’t take things for granted.   However,  at least at this stage in my life, I’m usually laughing to myself if those questions inadvertently race through my brain’s neurons.

 

But, looking back, I guess I would have changed a few things.

 

For one, I would have come to Baja sooner.  I didn’t make it down to Baja until my early 30’s.  I would have loved to have seen the Baja 10 or 20 years earlier…like the during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.   I would have loved to have seen Cabo San Lucas “back in the day” when it was still a fishing town.

 

I would have loved to have seen the Baja of Gene Kira, Fred “Baja Ha-Ha” Hoctor, Neil Kelly and Ray Cannon and other great writers who saw Baja in the days when it was truly “la frontera” (the frontier).

 

If my time machine was powerful enough, what I wouldn’t give to have experienced the Baja of John Steinbeck on the Western Flyer with Ed Ricketts!

 

Looking back, I would  had taken the time to have seen some of the great legendary landmark resorts and hotels in their heyday like Punta Chivato; Punta Colorada, Rancho Leonero, Las Cruces,   Hotel Las Arenas or even The Old Mill in San Quintin and so many others.

 

Some are still going strong, but to have seen them “back in the day” would’ve been pretty special.   So many are gone now or are a shadow of their previous glory when they sat alone on pristine fishing waters.

 

Likewise, the “old Finnie” Finisterra Hotel, Hotel Cabo San Lucas and the Hacienda Hotel  hewn out’ve rocks and cliffs would have been something to have experienced in their days of elegance.  I was fortunate enough to spend some time during their waning years, but to have been there when mariachis roamed the halls and played for well-heeled celebrities and guests must have been something to see.

 

Looking back, I would have brought my parents to Baja sooner.  Lots of kids are brought down by their parents, but I was the first in the family to venture south.  It wasn’t until many years later that I got my father to travel with me.  Other family members followed over the years.

 

Those times remain some of the best memories with them.  That “window” closed too soon and before long they had either had passed away or were too old to travel any longer.  And all we have are the memories.

 

As another afterthought, why did I take so long to stick my head underwater? I was raised in the water.  I spent many of my younger years in Hawaii.   I was so intent on fishing from “above the surface” I never stuck my head “below the surface.”

 

Then, I got SCUBA certified.  It opened up an entire new spectacular world that so enthralled me, I kept going until I got my divemaster certification and became a working divemaster.  The waters surrounding the Baja are some of the most incredible in the world.  It also made me not only a better fisherman, but also gave me a greater appreciation for all for the ocean and especially Baja.

 

I surely would have spent more time in the bush.  When you’re living hand-to-mouth, you like to be somewhat close to things like water, gas, electricity and transportation. . .  No matter how primitive.   I would have spent more time as far away from those things as possible knowing that with each approaching year, it would be increasingly difficult because those places are disappearing.

 

In the same vein, I would have literally “taken the roads less traveled.”  More deserted roads should have been explored.  I should have followed more goat paths.

 

They should have been followed to find out what beach, canyon, vista or adventure lay at the end.  Nowadays, too many others have already been down those roads.

 

Finally, I would have learned Spanish earlier and worked at it harder.  It’s my greatest regret that I’m not more fluent. Language is the ultimate “code.”

 

I’ve gotten better, but I think of how so many previous experiences would have been enriched by knowing and understanding Spanish better.  I can only think of what I missed by not understanding a word here or a phrase there.  Likewise, if I had a better command of Spanish, I could have contributed more as well.

 

Yes, it would have been great to have done so many things earlier. Still,  I’ve got no regrets!  But, I guess it’s not too late.  And that’s the beauty of Baja.  There’s still so much waiting to be experienced and folks continue to discover what a special place it is!

That’s my story

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR Top 5 – Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

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

Phones: 

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttps://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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MEMO TO SELF – NO BAD DAYS

sunrise

SUNRISE ON THE SEA OF CORTEZ TO START THE DAY. FIRST BAITS IN THE WATER. HOW CAN THAT BE BAD?

MEMO to SELF…NO BAD DAYS!

Originally Published the Week of July 22, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

The day had not started well. I woke up grumpy. I was doing my utmost to put on my best “happy face” for the fishing clients this morning, but it was taking an effort.   Just one of those days we all have when one would be best-served to just stay in bed!

 

I already knew it was going to be a long day. We had problems at our restaurant with the plumbing, and several of our employees were out sick. A vehicle was broken down and required a part they just don’t make in Mexico and there was a chance of rain in the forecast too. Sheeesh. And it was only 5 a.m. in the morning!

 

Worse of all, the fishing had been bad. And I had grumpy fishermen. More than grumpy actually. Rude and pissed off.   The bad fishing had snowballed into complaints now about the service, the captains, the hotel, the food.

 

Funny how that happens. Catch fish and none of that matters. Don’t catch fish and the world is a terrible place. I could feel that target growing on my back. Anyone who has been a guide or outfitter knows what that feels like. As if we could control the wind, waves, weather and fish! But, we care about how our clients feel so you feel the crosshairs growing.

 

But, I guess you pay that money and it entitles you to be grumpy and growl and no amount of cheerfulness or cheerleading on our end was gonna change things.

 

My own mood reflected it as well as a feeling of helpless frustration. If I could make fish jump in the boat, I would. If I could wave a fishing rod in the air, I’d make the clouds go away. Doesn’t work that way.

 

So, we packed them into our van to the beach in the dark and could feel the tension. Yuk. Mine and theirs.

 

And then some of our other fishermen came down and climbed into the shuttle. All smiles. Handshakes. Backslaps. Excited to be going fishing. Looking forward to being on the water.

 

Introductions and greetings.   Among themselves. “Hey, didn’t I see you on the plane?” “Where’d you go to dinner last night?” “Really nice to meet you!” “You’re lucky to have your wife. Don’t let her catch all the fish!” (Laughs) The grumpy guys could care less.   Golly, is it THAT bad?

 

The happy folks were all long-time customers. They all came from different parts of the country.   I had known them for a long long time and knew their stories. But, all of them were coming together this morning and meeting for the first time.   Just happy to be out; happy for maybe more reasons than just going fishing.

 

Yes, I know their stories.

 

For several of them, this could be their last trip.

 

One has a serious kidney surgery as soon as he gets back.

 

The wife, they were talking about? The gal schlepping the rods and laughing with the boys? She just found out she’s got a malignant tumor in her breast. She’s got a lot on her mind, I know.

 

One of the other guys? He’s had several strokes. I see the changes in him. He still at it, but he can’t fish every day like he used to. I worry about him pulling on a big fish. He’s fragile, but gutty as hell and won’t let anything stop him.

 

Another guy in the van, he’s had 24 surgeries. TWENTY FOUR!

 

He had his first heart-attack at 35 years-old. His first stroke at 36.   He had a heart transplant several years ago. His face is scarred from skin cancer. Right around his mouth, lips and chin.   As soon as he gets home from La Paz, he’s got a date with the dermatologist.

 

He once showed me what his chest, arms and legs look like from all the surgeries. He laughing called himself “Frankenstein.” He takes several dozen pills a day to keep going.   He has to wake himself up at night to make sure he takes some of the pills on time.

 

He just came back from a salmon trip in Alaska. And now here he is in La Paz fishing with us.

 

He once told me, “I know people who are more fortunate than me and let little setbacks get to them. They are miserable.

 

I choose to be happy. I chose to LIVE and enjoy the time I have. I got the message early! Fishing just happens to be the vehicle that gets me off the couch and enjoying life!”

 

 

None of the folks in the shuttle van know the background of the other folks.

But there were those who were really looking forward to the day. And others who started the day already under a toxic cloud.  I guess I could be included in that group.

 

I want to tell the grumpy guys…”LOOK AT THESE HAPPY PEOPLE!” I want to introduce them and tell the grumpy guys the stories about the happy people.   I know it’s not my place.

 

But, I want to say, a bad day fishing is just that. A bad day fishing. You’re here. You’re enjoying times with friends. You’re doing something that a zillion other people will never ever get to do in their lives. See a sunrise. See the dolphin. Feel the salt spray. Crack beers on the beach.   Fishing isn’t life. Life is fishing.

 

I think there was a reason I saw these folks today. Wake up call. Life ain’t so bad a’tall. I’m blessed. Memo to self…no bad days allowed!

 

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

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

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

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://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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“More than Potato Salad and Fried Chicken”

U.S. Flag Tailhunter

“MORE THAN POTATO SALAD AND FRIED CHICKEN”

Originally Published the Week of July 10, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

One of our fishing clients down here in La Paz was sipping a cold one in our restaurant and asked if I missed 4th of July.

 

Having been down here in Mexico working now almost 20 years, yea, I really do. I miss it a lot. Being that July 4th is always smack in the height of the summer fishing season, it’s been a long time since I’ve been part of the celebration “back home.”   But, this is where work requires that I be down here and so-be-it.

 

Superficially, man…I miss a good parade and watching the kids and the floats and the music…and most of all standing with hand-over-heart as I watch our vets and service folks marching tall and proud. I get choked up over that.

 

I miss the smell of green summer grass-in-the-park and that smell of barbecued burgers and saucy ribs and ducking the occasional errant Frisbee. I miss the sand between my toes and a paper plate of fresh potato salad, sloppy pork-n-beans, fried chicken and a beach fire in the dark as fireworks burst over the water to the oohs-and ahhs of the crowd. I miss hearing the Star Spangled Banner played.

 

So many things parked in my memory banks.

 

But, I get a completely different perspective living outside the U.S. and looking in from afar…from Mexico. And, although the two countries share borders and so many other things in common, they are still so far apart. And it makes me appreciate the U.S. even moreso and what the 4th of July means.

 

For one, I take fewer things for granted. Simple things.

 

Like water.

 

Back home, you flipped on the faucet. Bad as it might taste, you take for granted that water comes out. You can cook with it. Wash clothes. Come home from work and take that long easy hot shower. Wash your car. Water your lawn. Gasp…fillyour hot tub and swimming pool!

 

Here, in Mexico, water is at a premium. What we call “drought” in the U.S. is almost comical in Mexico. Sometimes nothing comes out’ve the faucet…for days!

 

Here in La Paz, often water is only sent to your home or business through the city pipes every-other-day or every two days. And even then, pretty much at a slow drip.

 

That’s why you see these huge black plastic “tinacos” (storage cylinders) on top of business and houses. That’s to save the water when it’s available and running. If you run out, you have to wait until the city opens the spigots again.

 

The tourists never see that because the hotels and golf courses and swimming pools are always full. But, I saw a report once that said the fresh water daily allotment for the average Baja citizen is less than one-gallon-a-day. And getting smaller.

 

And more…

 

As a former attorney back in California, I don’t take justice or the U.S. legal system for granted anymore. Nor am I so quick to make fun of it’s many problems.   I still challenge someone to come up with a better way to do things.   It still has a fundamental premise, that you are “innocent until proven guilty.” And there’s nothing the government can do about that.

 

Here in Mexico, they still operate under the archaic Napoleanic code from the days when France ran Mexico.    Under those laws, the state “presumes you are guilty and it’s up to you to prove you are innocent.”

 

I have seen the damages up-close-and-personal here.   We’ve been victimized ourselves.

 

Prove you didn’t steal from your neighbor. Prove your kid didn’t start the fight that broke another kid’s nose. Prove your wife didn’t crash into someone else’s car. Prove you didn’t hurt someone’s reputation by something you said. Prove you didn’t sexually accost a fellow employee.

All it takes is an accusation and a report to authorities by someone who doesn’t like you. And now it’s YOUR problem. It’s YOUR burden to prove you’re innocent.

 

Another thing is that I don’t take the ability to work so lightly. I know in the U.S. we have a serious crisis in employment.   I have several college degrees plus a law degree, but I’ve been unemployed. I’ve quit jobs. I’ve been fired from jobs.

 

But, I always had options. I always had hope that I could find another job.

 

I’m here in Mexico now because of a choice I made years ago, not because I wanted to live outside the U.S. but because there was a business opportunity that presented itself. But, it was a choice I had because I had options.   I had that independence. And I was lucky and blessed.

 

We have so many good friends, employees and associates and acquaintances after almost 2 decades here.

 

I look at them and I’m grateful for what we have as Americans roving this planet who at least have opportunities and options.

 

Here in Mexico, if you’re a dishwasher or you’re a taxi driver, that’s probably what you will be the rest of your life. That’s it. No upward mobility.

 

There might be some lateral mobility in that instead of a dishwasher you might get to be a truck driver, but not likely. You will live and die a dishwasher or waiter or farmer. That’s it. Same for your kids. What’s a career?

 

There’s no “correspondence school” or “next big opportunity.” You are what you are. My amigo is a floor cleaner. He will be a floor cleaner his whole life until he dies or his back gives out. Whichever comes first.

 

Education is mandatory to only 8th grade. How far would you have gotten on an 8th grade education?

 

Having education, even a college education, could still mean you’re now qualified to work in a retail store selling shoes or in an office filing papers. You can keep your hands clean. Maybe.

 

And, if you lose your job, that could be it as well.

 

We know a very good accountant working for a company. She’s 35-years-old. She told us if she ever loses her job, she is no longer employable because she is “too old” and companies don’t hire “old people.” She supports a family of 4.

 

Truthfully, when you hit 65-years-old here, you are forcefully retired. No matter how good, valuable or healthy you are. No matter that you’re the sole earner in your household, you’re out’ve the work force.

 

Just yesterday, a single-parent friend told me her son missed a job interview because he didn’t have shoes.

 

Last week, another friend told me he had to quit a job as a maintenance man because it was too hard to walk 5 miles to work and back six-days-a-week. He’s 62-years-old and supports a family of 5.

 

We might share borders, but we are so far apart. And every 4th of July away from home, I’m ever more grateful for the opportunities and freedoms I’ve enjoyed and been blessed with. For all it’s problems, the U.S. still enjoys so much that the rest of the world never has or will.

 

Can someone pass me another piece of fried chicken…

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

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

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

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://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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“Just Ask”

Screen-Shot-2013-10-14-at-7.50.13-PM

 

“JUST ASK”

Originally Published the Week of April 3, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

The pangas had all returned to the beach with happy fishermen.  Fish had been cleaned and were either getting icy in the hotel freezers or were in the kitchens getting prepped for the grill and tonite’s dinner.

 

Most of the guys had headed to their rooms for siestas and shower.

 

Others, had dragged themselves directly to the pool and the margarita bar foregoing the showers…and the siestas. But, I knew that for most, one drink and they’d be passed out contentedly in a lounge chair…dreaming of the fish they caught and the ones that got away.

 

I was already in the office, putting away gear and breaking down the days’ events.   I had to get ready for another group of anglers coming in that evening on the next flight.

 

I brisk knock on the office door turned out to be one of the dad’s who had been fishing that day.

 

“Jonathan, I can’t find my son, Joey.  He helped me carry gear back to the room and I went in to take a quick shower before dinner. I came out and can’t find him anywhere. I hate to be a bother. But, I looked everywhere.”

 

I told him not to worry. Ten-year-olds don’t usually stray too far and many of the other anglers knew or were familiar with the youngster.

 

We checked the restaurant and the pool.  We hit the Jacuzzi. We walked to the kid’s playground. We asked a number of other anglers. No one had seen Joey.

 

“Let’s walk back to the beach,” I suggested to dad.  And we took a short little hike to the little cove next to the hotel where our pangas drop off the anglers.

Sure enough, there was Joey sitting in the panga with our Captain Lorenzo.  We could see both of them had their heads down and were concentrating on something.

 

As we got closer, Dad said, “Joey, we’ve been looking all over for you.  What are you doing here with Lorenzo?

 

Both the captains and Joey looked up with big smiles.  Joey held up a hook and some line!

 

“I came walking back to the beach and found my friend, Lorenzo.  And I asked him to show me how to tie a fishing knot! Look dad!”

 

He held up the hook and proudly showed off his knot.

 

“I did this one all by myself!”

 

“Wow!,” said dad with raised eyebrows.  “Even I don’t know how to tie a fishing knot.”

 

Captain Lorenzo looked just as pleased.

 

In broken “Span-glish” he explained that Joey had just walked up and asked how to tie a knot. It reminded him of his own boys and how he had shown them many years ago how to tie a fishing knot.

 

“They are grown men now, but I remember those good days,” he said wistfully.

 

“You are lucky to fish with your father,” he said to young Joey.

 

“Captain Lorenzo, will you show me how to tie a knot also?” asked dad.

 

Claro que si…of course, mi amigo.  Es un placer…it is a pleasure!” replied the Captain.  “Here take a hook and some line…”

 

And with that, I backed away smiling down the beach.  The lost had been found.  And perhaps some other things had been found along the way.

 

An hour later, I went back down to the beach and half-a-dozen guys were surrounding the panga, all intently learning to tie knots.  Captain Lorenzo and Joey were “holding court.”

 

One thing I learned long ago was one of the fastest way to get a “group session” going was to tie a knot in front of a bunch of fishermen.

 

Whether it’s a “San Diego jam,” a “Palomar”, an “Albright special”, a “Cat’s Paw”…whatever-you-want-to-name-it…tie a knot.

 

And someone will say “Hey, can you show me that again?”  Or, “But, I tie it differently, like this…”

 

And there you go! Instant…constructive debate discussion and discovery!

 

It also occurred to me that one of the least utilized sources of fishing education are the Mexican captains and deckhands who take us all out fishing.

 

These guys fish more days in a year than most sportfishermen and women will fish in our lives. Most of them started as commercial fishermen and have been doing nothing else their entire lives.

 

You get pretty good when catching a fish puts food on the table and buys clothes for the family. Often, without all the fancy technology available to the rest of us, they have to be better than the fish as well as their competitor captains and crews.  Proudly so.

 

I talked to Captain Lorenzo a few days after the knot-tying beach party.

 

“Everyday, there are new gringo clients. And they all want to catch fish. They come.  They go.”

 

“To many, I am just the Mexican captain and the guide.  And that is fine. We have a good time and I have been doing this more than 40 years and I am proud of what I do.”

 

“But, sometimes the clients get angry because they want to do everything.  That is fine too.  But, then I watch them and they have many problems.   And they get angry and do not catch fish.  Angry clients are not happy.”

 

“It is OK if they know how to fish, but many make mistakes.  And they do not want help.”

 

“I wish they would ask. I like it.  I am happy to teach. Then everyone has a good time.”

 

“No one ever asks.” He said with a shrug.  “Except one little boy.”

 

That’s our 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-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 FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

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

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://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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“Through the Looking Glass”

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The famous arch on the public pier in La Paz welcoming visitors to the “Port of Magic.”

“THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS”

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 15, 2013 in Western Outdoor News

Here in La Paz, we call the waterfront area, the Malecon.  It’s the Mexican equivalent of “fisherman’s wharf” in so many ocean-front areas in the U.S.  And, like it’s counterparts north of the border, the malecon is a hub of commercial and social activity.

Restaurants, stores, cantinas and tourist shops dot the area and cater to the numerous locals and tourists enjoying the mile-long stretch of beach and concrete boardwalk.

Smack dab in the middle is the city pier.  At the entrance to that pier is an arch proclaiming “Bienvenidos al Puerto de Illusion” (Welcome to the Port of Magic).

I never really gave it much thought.  Just another chamber-of-commerce slogan to welome tourists.  Yawn.  Lo que sea (whatever).   A bit like U.S. towns annointing themselves the “Cucumber Capital of the World” or “The Place Where Teddy Roosevelt Went to Middle School.”

And I live and work in the “Port of Magic.”  Right.  OK.

And for about 10 months of the year, we are myopically focused on running our fishing business and restaurant 24/7.  Boats in and out.  Clients and amigos coming and going.  Flights to catch and meet.  Luggage and fishing gear hauled and carried.  Fish to be packed and frozen.

We’re out’ve salsa.  The  pork ribs didn’t arrive. There’s a busted toilet.  The beer truck only brought half our order.  The drummer in the band is sick.  Two TV’s are don’t work and we have a full house for football games.

Did I just hear a bunch of glasses shatter? What do you mean we have no tortillas tonite?  Which panga just broke down?  Your buddy just heatstroked and needs a doctor?  No, I don’t know where you put your passport!  I don’t know why the bait is so small this year.   Yes, it’s OK to drink the water.

It’s crazy.  It’s hectic.  We’re little gerbils on a treadmill.  We love our lives and are immeasurably blessed.  But, after months with zero days off, we’re human.

We bump into walls.  We growl at each other.  Patience is thin. Sometimes our smiles aren’t as ready or as genuine as we would like.    How many times can I answer, “Where are the tuna?”  or “So, how come the captains don’t speak English?”

But every now and then the cosmos send down a message that gives us pause to remember where we are and what we really do.

It happened just this week.   Rick was on his 2nd trip in two years with us here at Tailhunters.  He’s a fireman.  He pulled me aside one evening at the restaurant.  He grabbed my hand in his big paw, shook it and gave me a big brotherly-bear hug.

“Hey man, I just want to thank you for having me here, “ he said sincerely.

“Oh sure, glad you’re having a good time!” I replied somewhat generically.  I was kind of in a hurry and didn’t really have a long time to chat.  The restaurant was filling up and I was expecting a big load of arrivals from the airport.  My anxiety was a little piqued.

“No, Jonathan, I really appreciate being here with you and Jill, “ he replied a bit quietly.  He wouldn’t let go of my hand.  “This place stitches my soul.”

Pause.  He looked at me eye-to-eye.  It slowed me down.  “Stitches my soul?”

“I’m a fireman.  I see a lot of things.  For a few days a year, being here in Baja helps put my soul back together.  For a few days on a boat and with my friends, it helps me make sense of things again.  When, I’m fishing my reality is simplified down to a bit of nylon string and a bit of bait.   Things start to make sense again.  It’s my happy place.  It helps me do what I do the rest of the year.  Thanks, man.”

With that, he gave me another bear hug  and let go of my hand.  He grinned and went upstairs to join the rest of his amigos already into their beers.

I stood there in my own moment.

Stiches my soul.  A place where things make sense again.  His happy space.

It’s good to remember that this isn’t just about how many fish you catch.  It’s not about “just a vacation.”

There’s often a bigger picture here.  I have to remind myself that we’re especially blessed to be part of it.   It’s indeed a magic place and a magic space through which we pass.  Vamos al Puerto de Illusion!  Find your happy place, amigos.

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-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 FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

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: Box 1149, Alpine CA  91903-1149

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

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://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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Salt Lake City-20120210-00078

From January to March of each year for almost 20 years, we criss-cross the western U.S. promoting our fishing operation in La Paz and often become an impromptu clearing-house of many general questions about travel to Baja and Mexico in general.

“BAJA FAQ 2013”

Originally Published the Week of Feb. 13, 2013 in Western Outdoor News

As I’m writing this, we’re just wrapping up our 3rd day here at the Pacific Northwest Sportsmens Show here in Portland, Oregon.  We’ve been on the road now for more than a month as we do our annual show-hopping promo tour across the country.

So far, we’ve done fishing/ hunting shows in Sacramento, Denver, Seattle before this one.  Only 2 more months to go and about 12,000 more miles of driving.

As we stand here in our booth, promoting our La Paz fishing operation for 8, 10…12 hours a day, we talk to hundreds of people a show.  We often hear many of the same questions.  Year-after-year.  Although the questions might be the same, very often the answers might change based on changing conditions in Baja.

I thought I’d share some of the most common questions.  Some might seem pretty simple…or silly…or obvious…but as mentioned, sometimes answers might surprise you.  Also, we get asked these questions ALOT so obviously, alot of folks don’t know these answers!

Q:  Where is Baja, Mexico?

A:  It’s the 1000 mile-long-peninsula extending from the border at San Diego/ Tijuana and going south to lands-end at Cabo San Lucas.  It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the West and is separated from the Mexican mainland to the east by the Sea of Cortez.

Q:  Is it safe?

A:  The  VERY short answer.  Yes.  Mexico is a huge country.  Generally as safe as most cities in the U.S. and in some respects even safer.  Yes, there are serious problems, but much of that is only in certain areas and in border areas and tourists are not generally targeted anymore than tourists are targeted by crime in the U.S.  In any given city, just like most U.S. cities, there are good and bad parts of town.  Stay out’ve the bad parts.

Q:  Is it OK to drive?

A:  On any given day, there are thousands of tourists on Baja roads having un-eventful drives.  Thousands cross the border daily and routinely.   Observe the laws.  Make sure you have insurance. Drive with care and common sense as you would anywhere.

Q:  Can we buy property?

Yes, you can.  Who do you think is buying all these parcels, condos, houses and lots along the beachfronts! Sometimes it seems that Americans are buying up all of Baja.

Q:  Is it always good fishing?

A:  Historically,  Baja is one of the most famous fishing areas in the world.  But…Baja is 1000 miles long.  It has over 2000 miles of coastline.  It has incredible fishing and over 700 identified species of fish in the Sea of Cortez.  That being said, fishing is as different as the species, location and variables such as  season, weather, current, bait, etc.  Every places is not great 100% of the time.  There’s such a thing as a bad day of fishing.

Q:  Can we bring our fish home?

A:  As long as you’re within limits and observe regulations, it would be a shame if you didn’t.

Q:  Is the water safe to drink?

Most places very much so!  But, like many places in the U.S.,  municipal water tastes bad.  Everyone drinks bottled water which is readily available.

Q:  Can we use American money?

A:  In Baja, American dollars are very welcome, but with new banking laws, making it harder for Mexican vendors to change dollars into pesos,  it makes it harder for the vendors to accept pesos…especially large denominations.  Rarely, will a vendor turn down a payment in dollars…a sale is a sale!  But increasingly, more can’t accept large denominations.  So, it’s a good idea to use smaller bills or get pesos exchanged before you come over or at an exchange house.  Many Mexican banks will not change dollars to pesos unless you have an account and, even then, only small amounts.

If you can avoid it, don’t use credit cards. But,  many places won’t accept them because of high surcharges to the vendor.

Q:  What happens if we need medical help or what happens if I have special medical needs?

If it’s  your medication, bring what you need and extra dosage.  Bring a copy of your prescription.  If it’s emergency medical care, most large Baja cities actually have pretty good first response and emergency care.  Enough to get you home after most emergencies so that your own doctor can treat you.  Credit cards  are usually welcome in lieu of insurance. Generally, emergency care is much cheaper also.

Q:  What happens if we don’t speak Spanish

English is growing.  Span-glish is universal, especially in the tourist areas.   Keep it simple and eliminate slang and most folks  will understand and everyone gets along just fine.  But, everyone appreciates any attempt to speak Spanish!

Q:  Do we need a passport?

Yes! Don’t wait until the last minute to get one.

Q:  Can we still get prescription drugs there with no prescription?

Generally no.  Not like in the old days. Generally speaking, if you need a prescription for it in the U.S., you’ll need it for most things in Mexico.

Q:  How is it to retire there?

It’s one of the fastest and most sought-after places for gringos to retire and an excellent place to make dollars stretch with a high standard of living.  You get more bang for the buck.

______________

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 FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

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: 3319 White Cloud Drive, Suite A, Hacienda Hts. CA 91745

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

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

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BUCKET LISTS

Originally Published the Week of December 6, 2012 in Western Outdoor News Publications

“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.”

Ever since the 2007 movie of the same name with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, the term “Bucket List” has become part of our lexicon.  Jack and Morgan played two escapees from the cancer ward and set off to do all the things in life they always wanted before they “kicked the proverbial bucket.”

I seem to hear that so often from friends and clients who visit us in Mexico.   I think some days hardly go by where someone doesn’t happily tell me…

“That was a great roosterfish. Been trying for years!  Cross that one off the bucket list!”

“What a great time! Always wanted to go fishing with my son and grandson!  It was on my bucket list.”

“Bucket list just got shorter.  Me and my wife just snorkeled with whale sharks this afternoon!”

Sometimes, it’s not even that complicated.

“We’ve lived our whole lives in Indiana.  We wanted to visit the ocean just once! Yessiree.   It was on the bucket list.”

 

When I hear something like that I realize how often I take stuff for granted.  Having grown up always outdoors in the mountains; on an island; in the water or under the water, I just don’t think twice about so many things.  Many of those things might seem dangerous or daring…or plain stupid and reckless, I suppose to some folks!

But believe me, I’m no daredevil.  I’m not crazy nor do I have a deathwish nor am I an adrenaline junkie.  There’s a difference between an “e-ticket ride” that’s a bit scary but  always ends and with  you  steppping \ off the ride laughing…and the real Evel Kneivel stuff where you can get hurt and you’d better have you medical insurance card handy.

But, it’s all relative.  My e-ticket ride is someone else’s mad crazy adventure.

Dive with sharks.  No problem.

Live off the land in a cave.  Sure.

Hang glide.  Sign me up.

Jump out of an airplane.  Safer than crossing the street.

Ride a manta ray.  In an instant.

Run through Central Park New York at midnight on a dare.  I was young and stupid.  Draw the line at that one!  Not recommended.

But…

My personal bucket list continuously keeps getting longer and longer.  Not shorter.  The more I do and see, the more I add things to the list.  This past week, I just crossed-off zip-lining through a rain forest and looking for crocodiles while I paddled through jungle mangroves off the list.  (Topics for another column!)

And, I keep hearing more and more people discuss their own personal bucket lists.  More than ever before.  Maybe, it’s just the age group I’m in.

We’re the baby boomers.  We’re not 30 or 40 anymore.  Look around and oops…how the time flew! We’re 50-plus and edging up and over 60-years-old.   Many of my friends have grown grandkids already.  Many retired or close to it.

Fifty-years-old is the new 30-years-old!  Retirement or older age doesn’t mean shopping for a rocking chair anymore.  More often, it means a new kind of freedom.  What do you do with your second wind?

I think many of  us are finding Mexico.  Despite what you might hear on the news, about the violence and other problems, tourism has been on a steady rise in Mexico.   In fact ,it’s one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world.

For many Americans, especially, Mexico is pretty much an easy airflight from most big U.S. cities.  It’s economic.  It’s close.  It’s filled with culture and history and  pretty much any “diversion” that would fill anyone’s bucket list.  There’s still so much adventure to be had.  And the dollar goes far!

I think the only real shame is that as we grow older, we start looking at our personal bucket lists.  And then there’s a rush to get to it!

More than 20 years ago, a retired friend pulled me aside and said , “Don’t ever get to my age and say ‘What if?’ We always says ‘Someday I’m gonna do this or that.”  Well, ‘someday’ is already here and if you have opportunities, take them!”

At the time he said this he was a “young” 62, but knew he was sick.   He passed away about a year after he said this.

“What if…?”

Start that bucket list early.  Someday, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never tried.  Step onto the ride.  Exit laughing!

That’s our story

Jonathan and Jilly

____________________________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife, Jill, 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 FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

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: 3319 White Cloud Drive, Suite A, Hacienda Hts. CA 91745
Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico
Phones:
from USA : 626-638-3383
from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

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

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:
http://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.”

Read Full Post »

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