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Posts Tagged ‘whalewatching’

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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Two Kinds of Fishing

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TWO KINDS OF FISHING

Originally Published the Week of January 19, 2017 in Western Outdoor News

About the time I first moved to Baja many years ago, an old Baja fishermen who had already spent more than two decades wandering up-and-down the peninsula made an observation that I will never forget.

 

Back in those days, I tended to listen to anyone who seemed to have a handle on how to improve my fishing skills.

 

He told me that all fishing can be narrowed down to two types of fishing.

 

He called one “ego fishing.”

 

That’s where you go out and bang it up. You lock and load.   You catch a lot of fish.  You go all out.  You make yourself feel good catching the most fish…or the best fish…or a fish bigger than your buddy.  Every cast is a hit.  Every hit is a fight.  Every fight is a conquest Kodak moment.

 

You make yourself feel pretty good about yourself.

 

You’re the “hunter-gatherer” of all hunter-gatherers.  Inside, you’re thumping your chest and letting out your best Tarzan yell inside.  You’re high-fiving yourself all over the place.

 

Nothing wrong with that. Especially, if it’s done in fun and good sport.

 

He told me the “second kind of fishing” might not be as fun, but maybe more important. He called it “homework fishing.”

 

The old-timer explained to me that “homework fishing” is often what made ego fishing ultimately more fun.  Like the name, homework fishing meant doing the background work that helped you get ahead.  It meant leaving my comfort zone of what I knew and trying to do something different with the intent of improving skill set.

 

He told me that fishing in Baja was the best place to do it.  He explained that the rich Baja waters gave folks the opportunity to learn new things.  You could make mistakes and learn from them.  If something didn’t work, the ocean often gave you more chances to hone your skillset.

 

Basically, if you “farmed” (lost) a fish, you often had many more opportunities to give it another shot.  Therefore, you could see what worked and didn’t work.

 

So, he went on to tell me that it’s good to put the ego aside, even when everyone else is catching fish to try a new lure.  Try that new knot you had been working on.  Practice your casting.  Try different trolling patterns or colors.  Practice different ways to make a bait presentation or retrieving a lure.

 

You might catch fewer or less fish than the next person, but “one step back will often put you two steps forward in the long run.”

 

I never forgot that and it has served me well.

 

But, many years down the road, I think there’s a 3rd type of fishing.  I simply call it “Passing the Torch” fishing.  It’s where you pass on whatever you know and help someone else with their fishing.

 

You don’t need to be a pro.  It’s just involves imparting whatever you know to someone who doesn’t know.

 

It could be as simple as showing an 8-year-old how to pin a bait on a hook.  It could be showing another guy how to tie a knot he or she didn’t know.  Or as easy as sharing a story.

 

I guarantee that you’ll also learn something yourself.

 

As I write this, we’re here in Denver at the moment at the International Sportsman’s Expo.  We’ve had a booth here now for 16 years.  It’s the first of more than a dozen fishing/ hunting shows that we’ll do over the next three months.

 

This particular show has almost 600 outfitters and vendors from around the world.  Hunting lodges and guide services from South Africa to Argentina.  Fishing operations from the Bering Sea to the the Indian Ocean.  And, of course a few of us from Baja, Mexico as well.  There’s gear and guns, equipment and tackle, boats and RV’s.  It’s quite a show.

 

One of the most gratifying things is to see so many parents bringing their kids to these shows.  Or guys who bring their buddies.  I love seeing their eyes go wide as they walk the aisles and talk to real-life geography lessons.

 

It’s show-and-tell on a grand scale.

 

I had one gentleman this evening come to our booth. He wasn’t particularly looking to book a fishing trip.  But… He had never seen the ocean…except in photos.  It’s hard to wrap my brain around that one.  He had NEVER seen the ocean!

 

He had never caught a fish larger than a bluegill. We got him excited about white sand and big fish.  We talked about tacos, sunrises and fishing in flip-flops and shorts.  We told him about turquoise waters that were warm as bathwater.     We convinced him to give Baja a try.

 

He just sent me an e-mail telling me he was so excited he couldn’t sleep and how much he had enjoyed the chat.  He had  already spent several hours looking at fishing websites and youtube videos about fishing in Mexico.

 

Little bits of knowledge.  From one to another.  And that’s how the word spreads!

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

 

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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DARK CANYONS OF CATAVINA

 

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DARK CANYONS OF CATAVINA

Originally Published in Western Outdoor News the Week of January 3, 2017

The rocky canyons near Catavina at night in central Baja are lonely and cold in late December. Mounds and hills of building-sized boulders dot an ethereal landscape eerily beautiful but desolately forbidding, especially in the dark.

 

We had pulled the Chevy truck off the road for the night up. We negotiated a sandy arroyo and found a sheltered lee against a wall of rocky overhang several hundred yards from the highway.  Clear, cold mountain air held nothing but a million stars overhead.

 

A quick fire of mesquite held back the chill and the worn green Coleman stove propped on the  tailgate soon had us warming tortillas, beans and sizzling chorizo (ground pork sausage) by flashlight.  The big camp pot sure smelled good.

 

“Shhhh…listen!” hushed my buddy Brian abruptly from the other side of the truck. “Did you hear that? I think I heard something out there.”  His head swiveled nervously into the darkness away from our little intrepid fire,  banked against the rock wall.

 

We all stopped talking.

 

“I don’t hear anything,” said Laura nervously, also swinging around from staring into the warming flames. She tried hard to pierce the shadows unsuccessfully with temporarily blinded campfire eyes.

 

Silence.

 

“Wait, I hear it.  Listen.” I told them while at the same time needlessly and unconsciously motioning them to be quiet.

 

The smoke from the crackling mesquite wasn’t helping my night vision.  But something…or someone was out there in the boulders and shrubs.  And it was moving very quietly.  Treading lightly.

 

I was keenly aware that our little campfire made us perfect silhouettes. Subconsciously, we had all huddled a little lower and blinked to focus into the cold Baja dark.

 

There.  We all saw.

 

Through the smoke. Just beyond the edge of light. Ghostly gray.   Dimly at first and moving cautiously.

 

Hatted heads. Dirty faces.

 

Two men.  Shoulder -slung assault rifles in hands.

 

I could see only their upper torsos above the shrubs and rocks.   One young. One a bit older.

 

 “Hola,”said the older one in a flat monotone. In the reflection of the fire his dark eyes took in everything.

 

Just three of us gringos.  An isolated campsite in a rocky arroyo under the stars on a cold December night.  Our truck and provisions.  Exposed. Vulnerable.  Crap…

 

I kept my own eyes on them not daring to see how Brian and Laura were doing, but their nervous vibe was easily perceived. Being the only Spanish speaker I cautiously said, “Hola Senor,” as casually as I could.

 

Danged cotton mouth.  Swallow hard.  I think I raised my hand in a meek greeting.  So much for bravado.  You think you know how you’ll act when someone has a gun.  You don’t.

 

Voice betraying nothing, “Who are you and what are you doing here?”  said the older figures in Spanish.

 

My normal wise-guy response would have been “Who wants to know?”

 

This was not that time.  I didn’t want to say too much, but explained in my limited Spanish that we were campers and worked for a magazine taking photos of the dessert and driving back to California from Loreto.

 

I had both of my hands up. I would guess Brian and Laura did too.

 

At first the older man said nothing.  Too long of a pause.  Uneasy silence. Not good. He looked and studied us with a blank expression.

 

Then, he and the younger man stepped from behind the rocks. Military camouflage uniforms. Boonie hats.  Mexican army. The rifles weren’t pointing at us, but they were still arms-ready. My hackles and senses were still lit up.

 

Two army guys? In the middle of the desert? At night? My body wasn’t moving, but my brain raced through scenarios…and horror stories.

 

“Gringos? From California?”

 

 “Si.Yes. Driving back to San Diego.” I pointed cautiously to the dirt and bug-caked California license plate on the Chevy truck.

 

In that flat Spanish he said, “I have an uncle and cousin in Chula Vista. I like the Padres ‘beisbol.’”

 

  He grinned tightly and he lowered his weapon. So, did the youngster.

 

A communal exhale.   As Laura told me later, she about peed herself. I never admitted I was pretty close as well.

 

“We have a small camp over the ridge.  I have 7 men and we work the checkpoint on the highway to the north.  We smelled coffee and cooking meat, then followed it to the glow of your fire and the sound of conversation.”

 

He explained that they had watched us for a bit.  Narcos? (drug traffic)  Coyotes? (human traffic)  Borrachos?  (drunks).  They had approached cautiously. If we were just innocent campers, they didn’t want to scare us.  (No kidding)

 

“My name is Sargeant Ramiro and this is Private Antonio.”

 

The sergeant, who was no more than maybe 25-years-old, revealed he was as scared as we were!

 

“Mucho gusto and I am sorry we made you nervous,” he said extending his hand which we all shook with relief.  Antonio,  smiled and shook hands warmly as well.  Looked like he should be on a skateboard. Really young.

 

They gratefully accepted an invitation to the fire and cups of hot instant coffee in styrofoam cups.   We huddled close as the fire lit our faces and learned that they were not allowed to have fires while on duty or training.

 

“Military rules…” he shrugged. He sipped. Steam from the coffee held in two hands rose around his face.

 

In that clear high desert air in December, the wind in the rocky canyons was bone chilling.

 

An invitation to spoon up some burritos was not turned down.  Romero and Antonio had only eaten cold military food in four days. The three of us also packed some ourselves and wolfed them down with our own coffee.  I think it was also the adrenaline coming down.

 

Not much conversation, but smiles are smiles in any language.  And everything tastes good in camp.

 

As we had that big pot of beans and chorizo and several packs of tortillas, we told the two men to make more burritos, wrap them in foil and take them back to their camp.  Their faces brightened.

 

Soon, we had a little assembly line. Several dozen burritos wrapped in foil    Everything into some plastic grocery bags.  As we expected to hit the border the next day, in went a bottle of salsa;  bags of chips;  jerky; some oranges and cans of Coke.

 

With appreciative handshakes and smiles they trudged back out into the dark bushes anxious to bring their haul back to their own camp.

 

We waved as the blackness quickly wrapped folded around them.  The chilly darkness did not hesitate.

 

Laura looked at Brian.  Brian looked at me. I looked at them.

 

Whew! The sounds of our hearts in our throats.  We all started laughing.

 

In the morning when we woke up, a handwritten dog-eared note left on our windshield from a stealthy visitor.

 

Millones de gracias, mis amigos.  Bien viaje y que Dios les bendiga. Viva los Padres beisbol.   Feliz Ano Nuevo.  A million thanks, my friends.  Travel well and God bless you. Go Padres.  Happy New Year.

 

Seven scribbled signatures in at the bottom. A salsa smear on one corner.

 

We all smiled. I had forgotten the new year was upon us.  A few days.

 

The  morning sun was already chasing the vapor from our cold breaths.  Time to break camp and head for the border.

 

The note went onto the dusty dashboard. Next to the gum wrappers and sunglasses and sunflower seeds.  To be read and laughed about.  For the trip.  For years…

 

Happy New Year

 

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

 

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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A MAR VISTA STORY

 

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A MAR VISTA STORY

Originally Published the Week of Dec. 19, 2016 in Western Outdoor News

Juan Carlos’ old pickup had seen better days. Gears strained up the low incline to his home.  It was hard to tell what color it used to be.  What wasn’t covered in dents, scratches and dings,  the rust and corrosion had claimed.  The dust of Baja owned the rest.

 

He always said, his truck looked exactly like him. . . a truck owned by a hardworking hand-to-mouth handyman.

 

He said a silent prayerful “Gracias a Dios” (Thanks, Lord) to himself as it bounced and rattled along up the hill.  At least he had a truck.  A true luxury where most people still walked, biked or took a bus.

 

And moreso, it ran.  Gratefully, on half-bald mismatched tires and no shocks, it ran.  Just like him.  Slow and steady.  Not built for speed.

 

From here to there.  And back again.  Without it, there was no work.

 

The tires scratched to find purchase on the loose gravel and powdery dust leading to his home in Mar Vista.  It was December and it was already getting dark.

 

In the cracked rearview mirror, pinpoint lights of La Paz were already blinking.  The black glass of the bay still mirrored what was left of a pink Baja sunset.

 

The ricos (rich people) would pay much for a view like his, he smiled to himself.

 

But, he wasn’t one of the ricos.  In fact, despite the name of Mar Vista, it was just a notch or two above a shanty town.  Above the city.  Outside the city.  On a set of bare low scrubby hills.

 

No streetlights or curbs.  No running water. Dirt or concrete floors and propane lights.  Just houses cobbled together with whatever was available. By people doing the best they could.  With whatever they could.

 

Like Juan Carlos.

 

He had spent an exhausting day hauling some big appliance boxes and other cartons from a warehouse, but quit early.  The boss said it was OK and paid him cash.  He would take the last of the boxes to the dump in the morning.

 

Tonite was Noche Buena.  Christmas Eve.  And he was going home to his wife, Celine and his little boy, Armando.

 

And with his money, he had bought some fresh hot pork tamales and steaming pot of pozole soup.  Their savory aroma nearly made his stomach rumble as loud as the truck’s ancient transmission.

 

A small bottle of wine for his Celine and a can of Coke for his Armando lay on the seat next to him. Cradled in a depression on the seat where the springs had given out and the cloth was wearing thin.

 

No matter.  Tonite, life was good.  The best that he could do.  With whatever he could.

 

Sadly, he lamented no presents.  But as his good Celine often reminded them, God had already given them the best gift of each other. God had surely given him a wonderful wise woman!

 

Reaching home, he parked;  dusted himself off and gingerly reached back in for the food with both hands.   He bumped the metal door closed with his back hip and it slammed on its squeaky hinges.

 

Armando dashed out of the home and wrapped his arms around Juan Carlos faded jeans almost tripping him.  “Papi!  Papi! I can smell tamales!”

 

“Espere!  Espere! Cuidate, mijo!  Wait.  Be careful, my son!” said Celine laughingly at the door as she greeted her husband still dragging the happy little boy into the warm room.

 

No glaring propane light tonite.

 

With no electricity, candles lit the room.  No scrimping for Christmas.  Celine had every candle warming their little home seemingly…just for them, thought Juan Carlos.

 

They all laughed when he told them that people spend lots of money in fancy restaurants to eat by candlelight.

 

“We have no money, but we have many candles!”

 

And what a feast, they had.  Celine had found some desert flowers in a water glass for the table.  On plastic chairs and plastic table cloth and plastic dishes, they ate slowly. Savoring every bite.

 

Celine told him the masa for the tamales was especially good.  The wine was even better.  Little Armando burped a big “Coke burp” that made them all laugh.

 

Enjoying the moment as families do.  They held hands at the end with a small prayer to the Baby Jesus.   Then to bed with happy tummies.

 

Mattresses on wooden pallets. One room.  Blankets pulled tight against the breezy Baja night.  But first a Christmas kiss to everyone and candles blown out to the silent darkness of the night.  Somewhere a dog barked.  Somewhere the wind carried the faint music of a radio up the hill.

 

It was Christmas.  Juan Carlos and Celine would sleep a little later. Celine touched Juan’s cheek tenderly as she snuggled next to him.

 

As he started to doze he had a thought.  Gracias a Dios.

 

He would wake up a little early and slip back to his truck.  With the big boxes, he would make Armando a…he would make Armando…uh…

 

A submarine…  No, a time machine…  Maybe a fort!  Maybe all three. Yes, that’s it.

 

Vamos a ver.  We’ll see in the morning. He smiled. He could hear Celine’s breathing as she slept.  Armando turned under his covers.

 

Juan Carlos’ own eyes got heavy as his full tummy.  Gracias a Dios. Contentos. Content.   Doing the best they could with whatever they could.

 

That’s my story. Feliz Navidad, a todos.  Que Dios les bendiga. Merry Christmas everyone.  May God bless 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

 

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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YES YOU CAN…MAYBE

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LIVING THE DREAM? IT IS POSSIBLE!

YES YOU CAN…MAYBE!

Originally Published the Week of March 3, 2015 in Western Outdoor News 

Admit it. At least once…probably more than once…maybe even several times today, you said to yourself, “I’m gonna blow this place and just move to Mexico!”

 

Or, you’ve entertained thoughts of simply leaving no trail and vanishing into the Baja to put your toes in the sand; a cold one in your hand and create your own Corona Beer commercial. C’mon. You know you have!

 

The grass is always greener on the other side. Heck, I’ve lived in Baja almost 20 years and there’s times when even I get fed up and say, “I’m done with this. I want In-N-Out burgers; push-button convenience; and roads that don’t puncture my tires and wreck my suspension.”

 

But seriously, Baja is high on the “leave-it-all-behind” list. In fact as a whole, Mexico is the #1 vacation and retirement destination for Americans. Some have a plan. Some don’t. Some just wing it.

 

I once met a guy. He was in construction and got crushed in the latest economic fubar a few years back. Frustrated with trying to stay ahead of the game. Decided he’d had it and was going to make his own game.

 

Sold what was left of his business. Bought a big RV and tied his boat to the back of it. Strapped his surfboards on the roof and came south. No forwarding address.

 

Last I heard, he was living on the beach south of La Paz on the Pacific side. I won’t tell you where. He actually had a girlfriend come looking for him once who looked me up hoping to locate him. It wasn’t like I had an address or he had a phone.

 

He had built a little palapa over his RV. He was teaching surfing lessons. He had built a little public shower out’ve old pallets and bamboo and PVC tubes. Fifty cents for 10 minutes of hot water. Discounts on shower time if brought him a 6 pack of beer!

 

There was another guy many years ago. His family came down looking for him. His wife had passed. His kids were grown and off doing their own thing. He hadn’t had much contact with them.   His exit was a little more dramatic.

 

All he said was, “I’m driving to Baja.” His family didn’t think much of it. He was retired and was a travelling kind of guy. But, as a former executive, he at least kept in touch with folks.

 

After five weeks, no one had heard from him.

 

They came into La Paz putting up “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN?” posters everywhere.   It had a fuzzy black and white photo of a smiling guy on an ATV named “Bradley” from Phoenix.

 

They had been up and down the Baja hanging posters searching for him. As I watched them put one up in front of our offices, I could see the angst, frustration and fatigue.   They told me the story. All I could say was that I’d keep my eye out.

 

Several days later, I happened to be out on the sidewalk and saw a tall scruffy bearded guy in cargo shorts and sandals looking intently at the photo. He saw me looking. He looked back and smiled. I raised an eyebrow at him. You?

 

He raised a knowing-eyebrow back.   Looked back at the faded flyer. Smiled a crooked smile and kept on walking. Hmmm….

 

Similarly, I’ve run into others who only go “by first name only please!” Or have openly told me they don’t want their photos taken or “I haven’t used my real name in years, and I like it that way.”

 

Usually said with a laugh. But, they are serious.   They have disappeared into the “frontera” (frontier) of the Baja.

 

Some folks just don’t want to be found. They have their reasons. Some are being chased…family, wife, kids, the IRS. Or not. Others come to chase something else. A vision. A dream. Themselves. Everyone has demons and angels.

 

I haven’t quite figured out my own motivations for 20 years in Baja myself.  I’m still working on it!

 

The stories can continue. Yes, it can be done.  And many do it.

 

But, most aren’t quite so dramatic or abrupt.

 

But, before you put out the “closed” sign on your business; bid adios to the U.S.A. and just sail, drive or surf into the Baja sunset, think first.

 

Don’t crack that beer just yet without some due diligence and a well-thought out exit strategy.

 

I guess the most important thing. Figure out how you’re gonna eat. As good as beans, tortillas and cerveza were on your vacation, it gets old after awhile. And dorado fillets don’t just jump into your refrigerator.

 

If you’re not bringing a coffee can full of cash, then it would be a good idea to figure out a source of income.

 

That means Mexican bank accounts and well, perhaps all the things you were trying to get away from in the first place.  Because, you need documents, documents, documents…starting with a passport…immigration forms…and that’s just to start.

 

If you hated bureaucracy (bureau-CRAZY) in the states, just wait until you get a taste of the Mexican version which is even doubly-mind-boggling, if you’re a gringo.

 

So, much for disappearing because now you’re back “in the system. “ And then there might be taxes to pay. So, you hate the IRS? You may have to now pay taxes in TWO countries.

 

And don’t forget if you start buying things, like land; a home; a car (with driver’s license of course!) and other things.  You’re leaving a trail.

 

So many have the impression that it’s “looser” in Mexico, but like anywhere else, there’s criminal laws, labor laws, civil laws; property laws, immigration laws etc.   And like anywhere else you respect the law.

 

Compliance isn’t optional. And the last thing you ever want to do is run afoul of Mexican law.

 

If none of that matters to you and nothing I’ve written has discouraged you, then come ahead! There’s a sandy beach, blue water, the friendliest folks and a lifestyle unlike anything imaginable waiting for you!  I’ll buy the first beer. See you down here!

That’s our 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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“South of the Border…a Little Nip…Tuck…and Troll”

For your next vacation...perhaps a little fishing and some grill work or a facelift?

For your next vacation…perhaps a little fishing and some grill work or a facelift?

SOUTH OF THE BORDER..a LITTLE NIP…TUCK…and TROLL!

Originally Published the Week of January 22, 2015 in Western Outdoor News

Tourists cross the border to Baja for any number of reasons. There’s the food. There’s shopping. There’s the great beaches and hotels. And, if you’re reading this column, well, of course there’s the fantastic fishing.

 

But, there’s another side of tourism that doesn’t get talked about a lot. It often goes unreported, but more than 700,000 foreigners, mostly Americans and Canadians go to Baja for medical treatment every year.

 

Some are fairly routine.

 

“I bring my family here to fish every year,” explained Wilson, one of our clients at Tailhunters in La Paz. “But we also get our teeth cleaned too,” he added with a grin. “ It costs me $150 dollars just for my kids back home, but here in Baja, it runs us only about $20 each!”

 

Josh, from California, spends several weeks in Baja each year. “There’s a terrific Chinese acupuncturist in La Paz who helps me with some nerve and muscle damage I have from Viet Nam. Compared to back in California, I can go several times a week in Mexico.”

 

Others are a bit more urgent.

 

Over my almost twenty years working in Baja, I’ve had clients come to have surgery for a torn rotator cuff; carpal tunnel syndrome; hip repair and knee surgery.   To most, they’ve told me the care was great, but moreso, the costs were a fraction of what they had expected to pay back home.

 

In some cases, there were emergencies. There’s not too much worse than getting hurt while on a vacation.

 

Of course, there’s the usual…hooks-in-fingers…allergic reactions to bug bites…jellyfish stings…cuts…scrapes…dehydration…heat stroke.

 

But, in some cases, treatment was critical. A client who got a little too much margarita jumped into the shallow end of the pool. He went head-first and broke his neck. There have been several acute appendectomie and a broken bone or two (alcohol involved!).

 

In all cases, treatment was fast, quick, competent and especially in the emergency cases, surprisingly good and cheap.

 

John had an emergency root canal in the middle of his fishing trip. “It was incredible. The dentist spoke English and the facilities were as modern as any I’ve ever seen. It would have cost me thousands back in Los Angeles with our family dentist.”

 

Ralph’s side pain in the middle of the night turned into appendicitis and he was rushed to surgery.

 

“I got a private room for almost a week. Great nurses. Doctors who spoke pretty good English. They even called my family doctor to check on me and they had the hospital commissary make American food for me. “

 

He added, “At the end, when they gave me the bill they apologized that it was so high. I couldn’t believe it. Laughable. It was so low, I used my credit card and felt like I should have put a tip on it! Easily 10,000 dollars more at home in Utah.”

 

Other treatment, while perhaps not so urgent, to some is even more important.   Baja is quite a center for cosmetic surgery as well. A nip…a tuck…a bigger/ smaller boob…a bit of lipsuction on the love handles.

 

Indeed, some of the cosmetic surgery clinics advertise “vacation packages” that include hotel and other amenities. You have a little work done under the radar. Recover quietly in sunny Baja. You return with a certain “glow” and no one is the wiser!

 

Like anywhere else, there’s good and bad practitioners. But, I’ve personally always had great care. Many of the doctors I’ve met and a good number of dentists actually received their training in the United States.

 

However, I always suggest asking around. If a doctor’s place looks like it’s down a back alley and has folding chairs, it’s probably not a good gamble. I won’t kid you that fraud is rampant and there’s guys out there that literally purchased their diplomas to hang on the walls.

 

But the good professionals have a track record and grow. Their professionalism in appearance is usually a good indicator of their abilities.

 

There are still some “doctors” who plant themselves next to pharmacies in little hole-in-the-wall offices. They are literally sitting at a folding table.   You walk in or walk up.

 

There might be a hallway of folding chairs each with someone who wants to tell the doctor their problem. The line moves fast. There’s no medical history taken. No temperatures taken. No names given.

 

Pay 5 bucks or whatever the going rate is . Tell the “doctor” what’s wrong. No real diagnosis. He just tells you what drug he thinks will help. He writes you a “prescription” for the pharmacy next door.  Off you go. Next in line “por favor.”

 

Hopefully, you’ll never need any emergency care on a vacation, but especially with growing medical costs, Mexico is a viable alternative for many people.

 

A little fishing…a little sunshine…a margarita…While you’re there, suck some fat. Grow your boobs. Cap some teeth. More folks do it than you might think. Multi-tasking Baja style!

That’s our 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/

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NOCHE BUENA and a MIDNIGHT CLEARLY

Mexico night sky

NOCHE BUENA and a MIDNIGHT CLEARLY

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It just got better.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DOSHING TRUE DUH SNO

EN WUN WHORE’S O-PEN SLAY!

ODOR FEELS WEE-GO

LOFFING OLE DUH WAY

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Noche Buena. Noche excelente.

 

EN WUN WHORE’S O-PEN SLAY ODOR FEELS WEE GO LOFFING OLE DUH WAY…indeed!

 

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

 

 

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

 

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

_______________

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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