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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

JUST BITE ME

just bite me

JUST BITE ME!

Originally Published Week of Aug. 31, 2017 in Western Outdoor News Publications

It’s that time of the year in Baja.

 

In my opinion, nothing beats the late summer and fall for fishing.  The sunny days are long.  The waters are flat.  The non-fishing tourists and families have left to go back to school.  And the fishing just seems to ramp up.

 

Oh…and airline tickets are cheaper too!

 

More importantly…

 

The “glamour” fish seem to know it’s “showtime.”  Billfish, wahoo, bigger dorado, larger roosterfish, tuna and others play to the crowds during prime time.  It’s big boy time on all levels.

 

But, there’s some small-time players who also come to the party and can ruin a night or ruin a vacation faster than a wahoo blasting after a trolled lure.  It’s often a reality that can’t be avoided.  Or can it?

 

I’m talking about bugs…yea…creepy stinging flying annoying biting critters that can put a buzz kill (no pun intended) on a fun time really fast.

 

Mostly I’m referring to mosquitos, flies and no-see-ums (invisible biting gnats).

 

At best, they’ll pester you into submission as you slap yourself silly while trying to down your margarita; or catch a siesta on the beach; or ruin your evening with that (we’ve all been there) annoying drone in your ear followed by the inevitable bites and scratches.

 

At worst, they can cover you in bites. However, in the ultimate scenario, they can send you to the hospital with a severe case of dengue fever or other sickness.  Nothing to laugh about.

 

Here in Mexico, we call dengue fever the “broken bone flu” because it’s very painful.

 

It starts with water.

 

The summer and fall is when we get our tropical storms and rainfalls.  Water puddles and collects. By the roadside.  Little containers.  Trash.

 

Bugs lay eggs where it’s warm and wet. The heat hatches them and then they go on the hunt.  In swarms.   They search for food and pro-create other nasty critters!

 

You, sir and madam, are the perfect host!

 

You have all that unprotected exposed skin.  And you smell!

 

Perspiration. Fruity fragrances like perfume and cologne; hair products like shampoo and mousse; your sunscreen; the “spring fresh” smell of detergent in your clothes…you’re just a walking neon sign that says “Bite Me!”

 

What’s that they say about an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of pain?”  (or itch?)

 

Let’s start with basics!

 

For Pete’s sake…keep your hotel doors and windows closed or at least keep the screens closed. Keep the bad critters outside.

 

A mosquito doesn’t care that you spent $1000 bucks-a-night for that ritzy hotel room with the 700-count-thread Egyptian cotton sheets. It’s gonna buzz your ear and you know it!

 

If you’re camping, that screen isn’t called “no-see-um” screen so people can’t see you change your clothes.  It’s because the mesh is so small that the almost invisible little gnats with the mean sting can’t get through.  So take advantage of it!

 

Once no-see-um get to you, they will attack in hordes and you’ll never know what hit you.

 

They’ll bite through your hair; inside your clothes; in the crack of your you-know-what; in your ears and under your armpits and you’ll never see a single one of them.

 

I was once working a photo shoot for a magazine with a bunch of models on a beach.  Within 10 minutes of setting up, the girls and photographer were screaming back to the van covered in dozens of red itching little welts.  The girls had been bitten even inside their bikinis and in their hair and weren’t able to work for over a week.

 

Which leads me to location.

 

Flying bugs have a hard time in the wind or breeze.  Don’t set up your beach chair near the bushes or your campsite in the trees.   For the photo-shoot I mentioned above, the photographer wanted to shoot the girls on the white sands next to a grove of mangrove trees.

 

If your boat is mooring up in a cove, get up-wind from brush as well.  These bugs will fly out to your boat and create havoc.  Near one remote island, we once had to sleep in our wetsuits on deck because of the bugs.  Imagine trying to sleep in a rubber suite in 95 degree night heat.

 

Obviously too, as alluded to above, fragrances are your enemy.  Avoid them.  Almost impossible with all the chemicals we use on ourselves these days, but at least be conscious of it.  If you spill food or sugary things, likewise, clean it up.  It’s common sense, but bag of your trash.

 

Fragrances can also be your friend.

 

There’s a lot of bug repellants out there.  Fragrance is their major component.

 

I’m not a big fan of putting more chemicals on myself, but there’s some newer and better natural and organic repellants that you can purchase that work well.  Spray your clothes especially the openings.  Lighting a citronella candle or two works great as well, especially at night.

 

In a pinch, acid things like a lime will work also!

 

Gringos like to stick a lime in their beer bottles.  Well, that wasn’t created by beer company advertising.  Squeezing lime on the rim kept flies away from crawling on the bottle or rim of your glass!

 

When I have nothing else, I’ll rub some lime or lemon juice on my skin.  It’s better than nothing especially against flies!

 

Also, if you can, cover up.  Long loose sleeves help protect against sunburn as well as bugs.

 

Critters like paradise too.  And there’s more of them than you.

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

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SO CLOSE BUT SO FAR

SO CLOSE SO FAR

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

SO CLOSE SO FAR

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

There’s an old saying that goes something like:

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

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

It’s home court advantage.

It’s the dealer’s table.

Home team’s locker room

It’s the golf pro’s home course

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

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

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

Or tying your shoes a certain way before the bowling league

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Same waters.  Same fish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You get the idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s my story

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

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I KNOW A GUY WHO KNOWS A GUY…

Know a guy

I Know a Guy Who Knows a Guy…

Originally Published the Week of Aug. 1, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

If you live or have spent any significant time in Mexico, you know that getting something done can be an exercise in patience and futility.  Depending on where you’re holed up, it’s not like you can run to the local strip mall, shopping center, Walmart or Home Depot or Auto Zone to find things.

 

Even if you happen to have one of those places nearby, there’s no guarantee you’ll find the item or service you’re looking for.   And believe me, you can run all over town looking.

 

Heaven help you, if you don’t speak Spanish.

 

Ever try to explain a “funny knocking sound” in your engine to your mechanic…in English?  Try that in Spanish.

 

Or explaining that you’re looking for a guy who can caulk your leaking shower tiles.  Or that you really need a ¼ inch hex head bolt to fix something.  (And Mexico is a metric country!)

 

As well, even if you do find someplace that might have what you’re looking for it’s not like you can look them up on YELP, GOOGLE or one of the other ratings services.

 

Are you kidding?

 

Even if you could “look them up,” I live in La Paz.  It’s  the capital of the state of Southern Baja. Almost 200,000 people.  On a good day, the phones and internet only work part-time!

 

There’s no Angie’s List or similar to check out a doctor, dentist, plumber or electrician.

 

But it’s part of life.  We have…stuff!

 

Stuff breaks.  Things need adjusting or maintenance. We get aches and pains.

 

Back in the states, you call the guy from Sears or the Maytag guy or the cable guy, right?  A plumber, carpenter, mechanic or handyman is as close as the yellow pages or the internet.

 

Every strip mall in the U.S. has an urgent care or dental facility.

 

Things can be returned and exchanged or fixed.

 

Plus…there’s such a thing and warranties and guarantees and vendors who actually back up their products and services.

 

While surely an inconvenience, when you need some help, help is available.

 

In Mexico, you suddenly need a hose for your car or a certain model of tire.  Your TV goes on the blink. You bust a tooth.  You need a certain sized screw for a project.  You get an infected finger from a fishing hook.  Your air-conditioner starts dripping water.  You need a good photographer for a party.

 

Where do you go?  How do you find someone? Moreso, someone or someplace reliable?

 

You don’t want just anyone fixing your tooth!  You’d rather not let some guy carry your TV off “to his shop.”  You really need that air-conditioning fixed NOW! Your tooth can wait.  Fix the AC NOW!

 

In several decades of living here in Baja, some things do come with warranties and guarantees.  But, half the time, the places are either out of business by the time you need something fixed.  Or their phones are no longer connected.  Or they’re clear on the other side of town.

 

Or, the person who can “fix” it is not the same guy who sold you the item.   The repair guy that has to come from another city or county and will come “maybe tomorrow…maybe next week!”

 

You think waiting for the cable guy in the states is bad?  In Mexico, you’ll hear “The repair guy might show up Tuesday.”

 

Or, he has to find the part first.  That might take several weeks. If he can find it.  So, he might show up next month!”

 

Sometimes, it becomes more pragmatic to throw up your arms in surrender and just buy a new one.  But, obviously, that’s not always practical.

 

So, the best and most economic way to get things done is to simply ask around.  In every situation, there’s a “guy who knows a guy.”

 

Every neighborhood has one.  Every taxi driver knows the “guy who knows the guy.”

 

He’s the de facto jefe of the neighborhood.  He knows everything about everyone. He’s connected.  He’s the godfather of every kid.  He gives the wedding toasts.  He never has to lock the doors of his house.

 

Very often he’s an older hombre.  Often times he’s a bit of a hustler; the “compadre” of the barrio; the “go-to” guy for advice or if they need something.

 

I’m not implying anything sinister.  This guy is often the patriarch of the area and often a bit better off than his neighbors.  He gets things done.  He knows stuff!  And he knows other guys.

 

That’s the guy you gotta find.

 

Not only will he usually find what you need or where to go, but don’t be surprised if he can sometimes “cut you a deal.”  He’s a “broker” behind the scenes.  He might be getting a referral fee out the back…or not.  If he is, good for him.

 

And he’s good for you.  If the thing goes sideways or doesn’t work or the service is not performed correctly, he’s your personal guarantee.  No paperwork needed.  His word or handshake is golden.

 

He’s vouching for the services or items and is usually pretty good about making sure it’s done right!  It’s his reputation on the line and that’s worth more than any piece of paper in his community.

 

In return?  Often nothing.  Like I said, he might be getting something on the backside.  Or not.

 

It’s good will.  It’s good for the community.  He knows that what goes around comes around.  He’s a good friend to have.  He might ask you for a favor sometime so be ready to reciprocate.

 

If his grandkid asks you to buy raffle tickets for the church fiesta have some pesos ready. Or if some family has a medical issue and he’s taking up a neighborhood collection, be sure to help out.  He appreciates a Christmas card or sending over some fresh fish fillets.  He won’t forget!

 

It’s how things work.  Find the guy! Get things done.

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

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DINING IN THE DARK

tacos in the dark

DINING IN THE DARK

Originally Published the Week of July 18, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publiations

 

Many many decades ago on one of my first forays into Baja, my buddies and I found ourselves to be tragic victims of a common Baja disease of unsuspecting tourists.  It’s called “over-serving.”

 

Poor us.

 

It started with “just one” innocent drink.  The next thing you know those sneaky bartenders are “overserving” you and pouring you another round.  Then another.

 

Who ordered this round of slammers?  Well, I can’t let it go to waste, can I?

 

Followed by other rounds of something else with only slight intermissions of spastic dancing; howling; smack talking and lots of “bro-love.”

 

“Bro, I REALLY love you, man! No, I mean I REALLY love you!”

 

And so us “bros” found ourselves just a few hours short of dawn, cotton-mouthed and stumbling down the street looking for our hotel. We are hungry as heck and know we’d better eat something.

 

Who’s the idiot who booked us to fish in a few hours? I used to love you.  Now I hate you, Dude!

 

No Denny’s or Jack-in-the-Box here in Baja.  All the restaurants are closed.  That crushed granola bar back at the room is sounding pretty good right now.

 

“Forget ‘bro-love.’  I’m not sharing it with any of these drunken boobs…” says my buzzing brain.  Every drunk for himself!

 

It was then we ambled upon the dusty street corner.  Like an oasis of light, a string of overhanging light bulbs beckoned to a bustling cart surrounded by other like-minded booze-addled wanderers. The sound and smell of searing chunks of meat drew us in like a Star Wars tractor beam.

 

Plastic chairs and tables surrounded a portable table filled with colorful salsas while fresh tortillas were coming off a flaming grill; filled with sizzling meat; and handed over to hungry revelers as fast as they came off the glowing coals.

 

Paradise found. My first ever street taco stand!   Each of us devoured a half-dozen tacos like ravenous wolves and washed down with an icy Coke from an old-fashioned bottle.  We would surely pay for our indiscretions in the morning, but for now, happy tummies accompanied us back to our hotel rooms.

 

I can’t remember if we ever made it to fishing.

 

But, I do remember the beginning of my street-food love affair in Baja.

 

If you ever want to eat “real Mexican food” you’ll find it on the streets.  It’s estimated that 70% of locals eat more than 50% of their meals at street carts.  It’s fresh, fast, cheap and muy sabrosa!

 

If you’re ever stumbling around at night like we were, you probably won’t find a restaurant.  No Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast or short stack at the International House of Pancakes in Baja.   But you will find street carts everywhere and probably a line of hungry people around them.

 

Each of them can be very different because each of them is probably a family-run venture.  Each has it’s own specialty salsas (reds…greens…spicy…sweet…fresh…cooked).  Each has it’s specialty condiments (cabbage…marinated onions…picked vegetables…chiles…nuts…spreads…guacamole).

 

Each might have it’s own particular meats, cuts of meats or seafoods.  Usually at night, it will be mostly meats.

 

These are not the same as American tacos.

 

Real Mexican tacos are usually served in soft corn or flour tortillas so be prepared to tell them what kind  of tortilla you want.  American tacos (Taco Bell/ Del Taco) are in a strange pre-cooked hard “folder” of corn.

 

Americans are used to having their tacos with meat then buried under lettuce and tomatoes.  Your Mexican tacos are filled with meat then you get to have the fun of packing it yourself with all the different fillings.    It’s really what makes each taco stand different from it’s neighbor right next door!

 

Here’s a quick primer that touches just the tip of all the varieties:

 

Carne Asada – Grilled beef either on a flat grill or open flame then sliced or chopped and served in your tortilla.  Different cuts of beef make a difference in the flavor and texture from cart to cart.

 

Al Pastor – thin sliced pork marinated in spices and pressed into a rotisserie “log” much like gyro meat or shwarma with a fiery brazier cooking it from the side as it slowly turns.  Brought over from the middle east at the turn of the century pork is used instead of lamb. Often topped with pineapple, it’s sliced from the top down in thin strips right into a handheld tortilla.

 

Chorizo – Mexican pork sausage flavored with garlic, chile, vinegar and other spices chopped then grilled.  Some folks like it dry.  Others like the good greasy chorizo!

 

Carnitas – Chopped and shredded pork shoulder usually or sometimes just cut-off chunks of whole suckling pig.  A big favorite.  Try it mixed or topped with chopped crunchy bits of deep fried or grilled pork skin (cueritos/ chicharrones).  Basically think deep fried pork belly chopped and fried! Who doesn’t like bacon?

 

Arrachera – Personal favorite.  Tender flank steak that has been marinated in citrus juice, garlic and other spices sizzled on the grill then slices into my tortilla!  Way better and more tender than plain carne asada.

 

If you’re at an authentic place, you’ll know if it they serve these.  Don’t turn your nose up at it.  Get past the names and it’s tasty stuff and often a line waiting to eat these tacos:

 

Lengua – Trimmed and cleaned beef tongue. Grilled and tender.  Has a chew texture and mild flavor.

 

Buche – Pork throat and stomach.  Actually very flavorful and delicious on a corn tortilla.

 

Cabeza – Steamed cow head / cachete cheeks – meat cut from the head and those tender cheeks.  Eat this and you’ll get high-fives from the locals eating next to you!

 

A word about taco cart etiquette.

 

There may be a line, but you have to sometimes step up and tell them what you want.  They’re jamming and busy.  Raise your hand if you have to.  On a Saturday night, it can be like a mini-version of the stock exchange.  Everyone is hungry!  It’s not impolite to yell out your order!

 

Reach into the ice chest for your sodas.  Keep count of your tacos.  It’s an “honor system” and often everyone there is a neighbor of the owners.

They trust you to keep count of how many sodas and tacos you scarfed down.

 

When your tummy is full, they’ll tally it up for you.  Don’t wait for a bill to show up.  There usually isn’t one!

 

Now go back to your hotel room and don’t forget to set the alarm to wake up for fishing! And drink lots of water.

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

WHERE THE WILD THING ARE…er…WERE

216

Where the Wild Things Are…er…Were

Originally published the Week of July 4, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

As a little kid, there was a beach I would sneak off to back home in Hawaii.

 

I’m dating myself.  I could ride my sting-ray bike there.

 

Down from the main road to where it sloped to gravel.  Down through the thick over-hanging jungle canopy. The air was thick and moist and the gravel gave way to a path of rich soft wet damp earth that never seemed to dry out and carpeted with soggy decaying leaves.

 

It would suddenly break into a clearing that I simply called “my beach.”  A sunny little white sand cove protected by a small shallow coral reef.  Dark lava rocks at the two small headlands and waves broke gently over into a blue pool about as wide as I could throw a rock.

 

A small stream that started somewhere in the rain forest up in the mountains dropped from a small waterfall.  It emerged from the thick vegetation and tumbled over smooth dark boulders through a gritty arroyo where it’s darker reddish waters joined the blue ocean.

 

It was a good little place to fish.  Or swim.  Or hang out with neighborhood pals under the coco palms.  For a bunch of black-haired, barefooted, hell-bent tribal children with unlimited energy and imagination , it was the best playground.

 

Where the wild things are.

 

Build forts out’ve driftwood. Chase each other with rounds of “Marco Polo,” our version of “tag.”

 

Play “chicken” in the waters while perched on each other’s shoulders and exhausted ourselves with laughter attacking the “king of the hill” on the small sand dunes.   Then later a retreat under the palms to eat sandwiches or maybe sticky-finger spam and rice rolls made by our moms.

 

Looking back we referred to it as “little kid time.”

 

It was “my beach.”  And I was convinced no one knew about it.  We never saw anyone else there.

 

On the island we just figured there were lots of little hidden beaches and coves.  This was “ours.”  Other people must have “their own beach.”  Right?   Little boys have their own brand of logic.

 

But, as with all “little kid time,”  little kids grow up.  Life and other things came along.  The islands were left behind, but always carried with me.

 

Years later, I came back.  To where the road ended.  To where the gravel started.  To where the dirt path emerged from the dampness to the light.  And I stopped.

 

Or to be more precise.  I was halted.

 

By a barbed wire gate.  It had a sign.

 

“No Trespassing.  Private Beach.  Exclusively for Owners.  No locals.”

 

Some “non-local” kids were gunning wave runners through the shallows where we used to play chicken.  Some new “kings of the hill” had built expensive houses on our sand.  An expensive European SUV was parked in front of one of them.

 

I stared at the barbed wire. . . and the sign.

 

Fast forward.

 

Two days ago. Mid-day Baja heat.

 

I drove out to one of the beaches north of La Paz where we live.  Just needed to get out’ve the office and not to be found for an hour or so.

 

No more beeping text messages or phone calls. Maybe just close my eyes for a few minutes to the sound of…nothing.

 

Just to take a breath.  Get some air.  Look at some blue water.  Get lucky and watch some dolphin make me envious.

 

I drove to one of the remote beaches.  This one famous on postcards for sugar sand and water the color of sapphire turquoise. It often shows up on travel shows and brochures as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

 

And there, plain as day, the beach had been lined with umbrellas and plastic tables and chairs.  And you needed to pay for a permit.

 

It was like being told you can’t look at Yosemite or the Grand Canyon without renting special glasses.

 

Oh, and no photos allowed either.  Or what?  Are you kidding me?

 

On the license plates here in Baja it says, “La Frontera.” The frontier. Yea, I get it.  Wide open spaces. Deserted beaches. Solitary beaches.  OK. It’s not Mexico City. It’s definitely not the mainland.

 

But, it had this reputation of being someplace you could still find the wild places to go.

 

And maybe re-aquaint yourself with some of your own internal wildness or hidden “little kid time”  that seems to get buried in traffic jams, office politics, corporate jumble and suburbia strip-mall-life-back home.

 

I guess, it’s still here.  You just have to look a little hard and go a little further.  And further still.  Everywhere.  Somewhere.

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

 

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

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

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THEY BETTER SPEAK ENGLISH!

os-gringos-1

It’s vacation!  Perfectly fine and fun to blow off some steam and act like an idiot.  Completely different to BE and idiot when you visit a neighbor.

THEY BETTER SPEAK ENGLISH!

Originally Published the Week of June 19, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

They better speak English!

Or what?

Are you going to pack your bags and go home?

I’m usually pretty calm.  Don’t get too excited and try to keep an even keel about things.  But, I’m human.  I have buttons that can be pushed like anyone else.

One that gets me is arrogant Americans.  I’m sorry.

This isn’t political. It’s just about well…as my English buddies day, it’s about “bad form” and “behaving poorly.”

I’ve lived here 21 years in Baja.  My wife and I try to be good ambassadors on behalf of Americans.  We realize people look at us. We have several rather high-profile businesses.  But, we always remember we are guests.

It’s how I would act if I were to come visit you in your home.  It’s how you’d expect me to act if you opened your doors to me.

But this happened yesterday.    I had the occasion to run into two couples who came into our restaurant.  I like to visit the tables.   Say hi.  Check on the food and chit-chat.

“Where ya from?”

“How’s that taco?”

“Is that mango margarita OK?”

Seemed like nice folks.  First time visiting Mexico.

They asked me about the possibility of going fishing.  So, I went into my info about our fishing fleets.   Blah blah blah…

Several sentences into my spiel, one of the guys says very straight-faced, “Your captains better speak English.”  Totally squared up.  Almost challenging.

Like the way the hall monitor talked to you…or down to you… in grade school.  Or Father O’Malley talked to me when he nailed me for shooting a spit wad in church.

What?  They BETTER speak English…or what? Was what bolted through my brain matter.

“UH…Well, sir, they do speak pretty good ‘Span-glish’ that has seemed to work pretty well for 2 decades.  Everyone gets along.”  I tried to deflect with a smile.

He replied.

“Y’know, that’s the problem with this country (oh-oh…anytime someone wants to tell you about YOUR problems red flags pop up…)”

“The problem is ‘THESE PEOPLE’ (another red flag) want our money, but they won’t learn English.  How are we supposed to communicate and how do you run a business with employees that don’t speak English?”

Inhale.  Take breath.  How do I count to ten really fast? For a nano-second I really wanted to bark back.

I looked around the room at all my waiters and busboys hustling around the dining room terrace.

I said, “Sir, it seems to work out OK.  This is Mexico.  People speak Spanish.  You’ll never find friendlier more welcoming people and hard workers.  Folks really do their best.  All of us do.  And whether it’s fishing, dining or whatever, I think you’ll find that the language barrier is what you make of it.  Everyone understands words like ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ and smiles are universal!”

I was trying to be cheery.  This guy couldn’t be this much of a boob.

I was doing my best efforts using international relations / chamber of commerce party lines.  But, my words were sincere.

One of the wives chimed in.

“Y’know, here’s another problem with THIS country. (emphasis on “THIS”) We went to a store to buy a t-shirt and they wouldn’t give us change in U.S. dollars.  They wanted to give us that Mexican pesos!  It’s like ‘play money.’”

“Yea,” chortled one of the other husbands.  “I bet these people have American dollars stashed behind the counter and just love to screw with American tourists ‘cuz they think we’re idiots.”

Si, Senor.  I’m thinking the same about you at this very moment.  I didn’t know where to start.  What are the rules of engagement here?

Do I address the insult or make some feeble attempt to educate?  Or do I punch someone in the nose?

It was three of them against one of me.  Three half-wits that didn’t have a complete thought between them.

Until the other wife joined the bashing party.  She was gonna sum up the conversation.

“THESE PEOPLE (that phrase again) just have such a messed-up country.”  There’s so much violence.  Their politicians are all corrupt.”

“No one trusts their government.  Everyone is on the take.  Mexican voting is all rigged.  Everyone knows that.  Their president is a joke.  Mexicans don’t care because that’s how it is.  That’s their culture. They’re used to it.”

“All they know how to do is take advantage of each other and get free things.   It’s all backwards in Mexico not like US back home in the U.S.   Right?”

She said it so cavalierly. So dismissively bordering on haughtiness.  So much smugness. She looked around at the other three to confirm.  Nods and smirks from the other panel of “judges.”

Yup.  Everyone knows.  You are so very very right.  Dumb-bass.  Pointless.

Why are you even here?

Favor quedate en casa proxima vez.

Well, you folks finish your meal.  Hope that margarita gives you the worst brain freeze ever.

I’m gonna go back into my office and do two things.

I’m going let off some steam and vent by putting some ideas down for my column.   Insulted.  Angered. Ashamed.  Yea…that about sums it up.

Secondly, I’m going to be thankful that the majority of the folks who visit us are a lot more enlightened.   Amen.

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

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“STAY OR GO? “

Looking ominous!

Looking ominous!

STAY OR GO? 

Originally Published the Week of June 9, 2015 in Western Outdoor News

You’ve been looking forward to this Baja fishing vacation for ages. You’re all set. Baja is calling you. You can taste that frosty margarita and you’ve packed and re-packed your fishing gear a zillion times.

Checklist. Passport? Got it. Toothbrush? Check. Hat and camera? Roger. Extra socks. Are you kidding? Extra underwear? Hmmmm…nah…you’ll just rinse your shorts in the sink.   Unnecessary clothes add weight that could be used for packing fish on the way home!

Even moreso, you’ve promised your boss, co-workers and your mother-in-law you’d bring them all some fish. However, the minute you walk out that door, you’re turning off your cell phone and e-mails.

You’re already humming Jimmy Buffet tunes.

And then, you hear the news. What? Oh no. A storm? A hurricane? Rain on MY vacation? No! No! No! Please oh please no!

It starts with a little blurb on CNN or the little rolling banner at the bottom of the TV screen. But, it’s a slow news day and now your evening news picks it up too. A dozen words of dread. You would swear they did it just to jab you.

“In other news, for you vacationers, there could be a big storm brewing a thousand miles south of Cabo San Lucas. And now back to Joe on the scene with his story about talking monkeys…”

And pretty soon, everyone on your Facebook page is telling you about it because, of course, they all know you’re headed to Baja! They start sending you graphic images of the weather map showing the tell-tale whirling cloud clusters. As if you didn’t know.

Your e-mail box is getting pinged as well. Well-meaning or envious friends are writing.

“Hey, duuuude, I think you’re screwed. Did you know that there’s this big storm…” Man, that’s not cool.”

Whoa…underwear is really bunching up. This can’t be happening. You’re trying to get some answers and the folks who booked you may or may not be responding.   Your buddies are getting into panic mode as well. Rumors are flying.

“Man, I heard from a friend of a friend who was reading online that…”

“The word around town is that…”

This is snowballing. Badly. How do you calm your beating heart and reduce the pucker factor?

Well, keep trying to get in touch with your charter or hotel or booking agent, or whoever booked you. This is where it helps to have someone who actually lives where you are going.   An agent who lives in Seattle might not be much help.

Remember that they have a vested interest in you coming down. No one likes handing back refunds. So, take their opinion with a grain of salt and accept it for what it is. The good ones will give you an honest assessment of the pros and cons so YOU can make an informed decision.

Get online and look up the weather forecast yourself! It seems like the most logical thing, but many folks don’t take that first step. There are websites a-plenty including the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and many others.

Even for those of us who live here, believe me. We don’t have mystic powers.  We look at those services as well. That’s how we get our weather information. So go straight to the source.   If you ask us, we’re often going to give you the same information you can see for yourself.

That doesn’t mean you should discount what your outfitter, captain or charter guy says.   Sometimes, there’s a lot of value to having someone simply stick their head out the window and tell you if they see storm clouds or bright sunshine!

Your nightly news might have grabbed the story, but a storm 1000 miles away can do many things before it hits landfall.   It could easily peter out. It could veer off. It could turn into a drizzle.

Don’t get worked up for no reason or without all the facts. Or for something that isn’t even a certainty.

Call your airlines. If they are flying in, chances are, it’s OK. But it’s just one more bit of fact to weigh-in.

Here in La Paz, we had something like 18 storm warnings last year in an El Nino season. Only a handful ever dropped rain on us although one of them was a doozy and became the historic hurricane named “Odile.”

As I write this, there’s a storm warning. “Blanca”is heading our way. Everyone is jumpy. The weather forecast changes by the hour. Angst runs high. The memory of what Odile did to us is still fresh.

It’s the 2nd such storm in about that many weeks. The last one, “Andrea” got everyone worked up too.

When it “hit” us…there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Not a drop of rain.  In 4 days, it went “poof!” Adios.   Andrea did rain on someone’s parade way out in the Pacific, but not on Baja.  We fished as usual.

With lower Baja so close to the equator, storms can just be part of life. It’s tropical. Storms blow through. With this current El Nino weather pattern, more storms than normal will be around.

Storms come up sometimes with zero notice and unleash for 15 minutes then disappear. It can be raining in one area, but 100 yards away no rain falls at all.

The weather forcast can show “rain”, but it rains in the mountains 20 miles away which are technically part of the city. In the city folks ar eating ice-cream cones with not a cloud in the sky.

That’s when simply asking someone to look out the window can be worth it’s weight in pesos.

Get all the facts. Make a good decision before you cancel your plans and have to tell your boss you’re not bringing him any fish.

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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