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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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WEATHER or NOT?

windy-trees

WEATHER or NOT?

Originally Published the Week of June 6, 2017 in Western Outdoor News

For the last few months or so…well…actually since winter…I’ve been whining about the crazy windy conditions in all my fishing reports.  As many of you in the U.S. may have noticed, winter is being a tenacious boob about going away.

 

Memorial Weekend has come and gone.  I’m still hearing from amigos north of the border about abrupt snowstorms;  unexpected hail; crazy winds; and rain.  Folks are  uncovering their swimming pools; getting ready to mow lawns; pulling out the barbecue…and  winter sweeps in with an 11th-hour punch.

 

Even, in Mexico City, they had historic hailstorms causing damage!

 

Well, it’s been the same down here in Baja.

 

We SHOULD be into balmy hot sunny weather about now.  I should be hearing from fishing clients laughing asking for “a little breeze” to knock back some of the heat.

 

Instead, we get sporadic windstorms that kick up the ocean.  They muss up my water.  They scatter the bait.  They get people seasick.  They gum up the fishing!

 

So, I bitch. And I whine.  And I rail about “the wind.”

 

In fact, as I write this column at about 4 a.m. in the morning, the winds outside are howling and I can hear it rattling my windows.  I can hear waves crashing outside and the palm trees are somewhere out there in the dark being rudely rustled by a strong northwind.

 

And I’m dreading putting out my fishermen in about an hour.  The forecast says the winds will calm down, but I know they’re gonna get wet.  And bounced.  And uncomfortable.  And that’s not what I want.   It sure doesn’t look like the fancy brochures right now!

 

But, last time I checked, I didn’t have a “weather control” button.  Dangit!

Anyway, a good friend asked me a great question that I don’t think I’ve ever been asked before.

 

“When is it too windy to fish?”

 

Relatively speaking, that’s an easy answer.

 

Like asking “When are the waves too big?  Or “When is it raining too hard?”  Or not.  You walk outside.  You figure it out pretty fast.   Yes or no.  You then decide to go. Or not.

 

But, if you’re like me, you want to play the odds a little better than just looking out the window or showing up at the docks.  This is especially true this year whether you’re going to Baja or anywhere else for that matter.

 

Since our livelihood down here with our fishing fleet depends on putting our customers on fish, I look at several variables.  Internet weather and wind sites are invaluable.  I use several to get the best picture of the coming forcast.

 

I look at:

 

  1. Windspeed
  2. Time
  3. Direction

 

Obviously, with regard to windspeed, I want it to be as calm as possible.  If the windsurfing and kiteboarding crowd starts to gather on the beach, something is up!   I want to know if the winds will be single or double digit speeds.

 

If you’re going to be panga fishing, then double-digit winds could be problematic.  If you’re going to fish inshore, maybe it will be OK.  If offshore, you might want to re-think things.  If you’re headed out in a 50-foot sportfisher, probably not so much.

 

The second variable I check is time.  When will the wind be blowing?  If it’s going to be blowing in the early morning and calm down later in the day,  that’s not too bad.

 

If the forecast calls for double-digit winds, but during the fishing hours, it settles down then, I really don’t care.  Let the wind blow all it wants when I’m back at the hotel hitting happy hour after a good day of fishing!

 

The third thing I take into consideration is the direction of the wind.  If it’s going to be blowing harder than I would like;  if it’s also going to blow during the hours I want to fish; then I want to know where the wind is blowing.

 

If the winds are coming full-speed out of the north and I’m going to be heading north to the fishing grounds early in the morning, then I know it might be a long bumpy wet ride.

 

If we’re heading south and the winds are coming from the north, then it would mean the wind is at our backs.  It’s going to push us along very nicely to where we want to go.  (Although coming back might be an issue if the wind is still blowing.)

 

By the same reasoning, if those north winds are going to kick up and we’re going west or east, then it might create some swells and rollers as the boat goes side-to-side.  You might want to be sure everyone has their seasick pills that morning and stays away from the greasy breakfast burritos!

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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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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DECISIONS DECISIONS

flyfishing

DECISIONS DECISIONS

Originally Published the Week of Dec. 7, 2016 in Western Outdoor News

About this time of year, I get a lot of “Santa” questions.  It’s either from wives, girlfriends or kids asking what to buy for the guys.

Or, honestly, it’s a lot of guys thinking about buying stuff for themselves because of the sales.  Or for their “buddies.”

When I worked and managed a tackle store many many years ago, I enjoyed the many ruses that guys used to buy their toys.

Of course, the most common one was simply paying cash so the purchase wasn’t traceable to the home budget.   They would then boldy “hide” the new gear somewhere in the deepest recesses of the man-cave/garage so it wouldn’t be found.

More cleverly, two guys would conspire together.

Each guy purchased something the other wanted.  It was wrapped and they exchanged the  “gift.”  Come Christmas morning, each announced joyfully to his respectively family, “Oh my!  Look what my best fishing buddy bought me!”

Some guys would come to us at the tackle store with a “Santa’s list” of their own.

They knew full-well that their wives would come to the tackle store to make a purchase.  It was their sincere hope that our staff would steer the thoughtful wife in the proper direction.   “Oh honey!  How did you know that’s what I always wanted?  You’re the best!”

Well, the holiday season is upon us again.

Whether you’re purchasing for yourself or for someone else, there’s a few tips for hopefully scoring the right thing.

Of course, like everything else, a lot can be done online.

If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, it’s a great place and there’s all kinds of deals to be found.  If you have no inclination, time or ability to visit an actual tackle store then purchasing online is a no-brainer.

This is where you can find stuff like pliers, dikes, and lures.  Stuff for boats and the things that go along with fishing like camping and outdoor things work well.  What guy doesn’t like electronic fishing gadgets?

Books and videos are also great gifts.  If you know proper sizes,  it’s hard to go wrong.  If in doubt, look into a gift certificate.  This is especially true for clothing and footwear.

A number of charter operations also sell trips online that make a great gift.  Or, give some thought to an actual fishing vacation.  To someplace like Baja (hint-hint)!

You can also purchase fishing licenses online.   That includes Mexican fishing licenses as well.

But, there’s some things that you probably shouldn’t purchase online if at all possible.  Like a few other things in life.

For one, some items are just a bit too pricey to pick the “right one”  to someone in a backroom or warehouse no matter how good they might be.  Especially, if it’s a gift.

Or, if you’re not very knowledgeable about the item to begin with!  It helps to talk to a real salesperson.

For another, some things in life just need to be touched and held and examined before you lay down your cash.  Things like shoes or jewelry come to mind.

Additionally, no matter what you think, often no two items are the same!

That includes some fishing gear.  Unlike say, a TV set…or a set of pots and pans…or a box of chocolates, I bet most folks don’t realize that no two fishing reels are alike.  Guns can be like that.  Guitars are like that.  One item has “the feel.”  Others just don’t have it.

I’ve been in a store and asked them to take out a certain fishing reel.  I can try five of the exact same model, especially conventional reels.  And no two will be exactly alike.  The drags might feel different.  One free-spools like a dream.  The others might be a bit sticky.

Rods can be that way too.  Depending on what the rod is going to be used for, the grips might be different.  More important to me is the “taper” and the backbone of a rod.  Where does it shut off (bend)?   It’s something I like to check with my own hands.

Nothing against, Walmart, because there’s some good gear there and great folks, but if you can get to a tackle store that really knows their stuff you’ll be better off.  You might pay a little more, but maybe not.  However, you’ll get a better handle on making a good purchasing decision.

Even in some of the mega outdoor stores like Bass Pro or Cabelas find that “one guy” that knows his stuff.  If you live in some place like Denver or even northern California, the staff might be more on top of salmon or flyfishing.  But, I’ve found there’s usually that one guy who can steer you right.

If all else fails…gift certificates or gift cards.

Personally, I better get on my own horse.  I haven’t even started yet!

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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ALL FORKED UP

doradowater-tags1

The tough-fighting, great-eating dorado or mahi-mahi

fish-taco

It’s a treat when visiting Mexico to have your own fresh-caught fish cooked up. But, is that fish ALWAYS a legal fish to be eating?

 

ALL FORKED UP

Originally Published the Week of Nov. 23, 2016 in Western Outdoor News

One of the great rewards of being down here in Baja and doing what we do is turning folks on to new experiences.  For many, it could be the first time out’ve the country…or the first time to Mexico.

For others, maybe it’s the first time fishing; going snorkeling; or seeing dolphin.  There are so many things that we take for granted.  If you’re a regular reader of my columns, we don’t even think twice about so many of them.

For example, this past season, we had a wonderful large family come visit.  As I put them on the fishing boats in the morning, one of the nice ladies told me, “This is our first time seeing the ocean!”

Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

They had never seen the ocean! It was like the time a few years ago when my dad told he had “…never seen the orginal Star Wars movie or any Star Wars movies.”  Everyone has seen the ocean.  Everyone has seen Star Wars!  Haven’t they?

Never seen the ocean.

Wrap your brain around that for a moment. Think what it might have felt like climbing into a relatively little fishing panga at sunrise to go fishing and all the things that might be going through their minds.

Probably like Columbus headed west across the ocean with a lot of faith that he’d be coming back.

The questions the family asked me started making sense.

“Will it be deep?”

 “How big will the waves be?”

 “Is this an ‘ocean’ or a ‘sea?’

 “What if a shark wants to jump in the boat?”  (One of the kids asked that one…which drew some nervous laughs from the rest of the family!)

Happily, they put on brave faces and stout hearts and went out about 200 yards and came back with big smiles and lots of fish and stories to tell to the folks back in the Midwest.

One of the other great experiences…a treat for us Baja rats, but eye-opening to newbies is having your fresh caught fish cooked up for you.

Having our own restaurant puts us at ground zero when it comes to visitors eating fresh fish and especially their own catch.

As I often tell folks contentedly telling me about the great fish dinner, , “Nothing better or fresher than fish that was swimming around this morning!”

And it’s true.

Real?  Fresh?  Fish? Folks are blown away to find out that fish that has never been frozen, canned, shipped, transporated or processed can taste so much better when prepared and eaten straight away.

Whether it’s plated up as tacos, grilled, broiled, fried…or whatever…then served up Baja style with fresh tortillas, frijoles ,rice, some home-made salsas or sauces…Well, fewer things are better and surely a highlight of your Baja visit.

But, there’s a few things you should know about restaurant fish in Baja.

Almost any restaurant will be happy to cook up your fish.  Speaking from experience, it’s a lot easier if YOU have already cleaned it.

Having you show up with 5 big pargo or 3 tuna straight out’ve your ice chest that still need to be cleaned is gonna take awhile. The restaurant might not be equipped to actually clean and dress out a fish for you. They might not know how!

Also,  if the restaurant is in a rush and busy, it’s hard to pull one of the kitchen staff off his station and have him clear a spot just to clean fish.  Many restaurants don’t have a “fish cleaning” station per se.

But, that aside,  by all means, bring in your fish. Any and all fish are welcome!

What many folks don’t know is that there are some fish that are prohibited from being on a restaurant menu here in Baja.  Two of the most common fish that come to mind are dorado (Mahi-mahi) and roosterfish.  Also, totuava.

All 3 of those species are prohibited from commercial fishing.  So, by law, a restaurant can certainly prepare YOUR fish that YOU caught and brought (Totuava is completely endangered and prohibited).  However,  that restaurant cannot legally purchase species like roosterfish or dorado and sell them to you or anyone  from on our menu.

Restaurants are only allowed to sell “commercially” legal fish.  To date, roosterfish and dorado are solely for “sportfishing” purposes. That means YOU with your hook and line . Roosterfish and dorado are prohibited from commercial harvesting.

Likewise, the restaurant can cook YOUR dorado or roosterfish, but it cannot legally purchase that fish from you (because it was sport caught) or from a commercial business.  So, chances are, if you see roosterfish, dorado or totuava on a Mexican menu, it probably shouldn’t be there.

There are several reasons for this.

For one, there’s certainly the ecological impact commercial fishing would have on these species.  Commerical and sportfishing pretty much wiped-out the tasty totuava population years ago.

The Mexican government…so far…has recognized that roosterfish and dorado are extremely important to the tourism/fishing industry and are a valuable resource. Translated, that means, they are worth a lot of tourist dollars.  They don’t want it going the way of totuava.

There’s also the health issues.

From the perspective of a restaurant, purchasing fish from a non-regulated source like from a fisherman or from illegal harvesting could pose a health fish.  Simply, in the chain-of-handling, there’s no way to know that the fish is safe to eat.

There’s no assurances (as far as that goes) to quality-control and inspection. Was it taken legally and correctly harvested and within the size and weight limited specified by law?  No way to be certain.

Eat fish.  Eat YOUR fish.  Eat fresh fish on the menu too.  However, it doesn’t hurt to ask what kind of fish you’re eating or raise an eyebrow if you see something wrong on the menu.

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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