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Posts Tagged ‘yellowtail’

BUDDY DO YOU HAVE SOME CHANGE?

 

money exchange

Buddy Do You Have Some Change?

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 10, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

In all the years and all the columns that I’ve written, I don’t know how I could have passed up the subject of money changing.   But, lately, I’ve gotten a number of folks asking so I guess that’s the genesis of this week’s subject.

 

If you’re coming to Mexico, is it a good idea to change dollars to pesos?

 

The answer is yes.

 

Using the “coin of the realm” is always a good idea, but especially now.  With the dollar-to-peso exchange rate at 16 to 18 pesos to the dollar, you stretch your purchasing power by having a pocketful of pesos.

 

There’s more “bang for the buck” as you wander around buying t-shirts for the kids; a sombrero that will end up in a garage sale; and another round of tequila against your better judgment.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  U.S. dollars are really welcome down here and we love having you spend them, but pesos are just handy to have.

 

With pesos in hand, if you see the shrimp dinner costing 150 pesos, you don’t have to do the mental gymnastics to figure how to convert to dollars.   It’s sure easier to figure out the 10% tip too.  It’s also easy math  to calculate if you received the correct amount of change.

 

Additionally, many local business, charge a little more for taking dollars.  We accept them as a “convenience” for visitors like you, but it actually costs us to accept those dollars.  So, there might be a small “visitor tax.”

 

Let me explain.

 

In order to deposit our earnings into the Mexican bank we have to convert them to pesos.  There’s a bank transaction fee attached so Mexican businesses lose some money by doing that.

 

Additionally  some Mexican banks only allow a certain amount of dollars to be deposited by the week or month. If you have more than that, you have to hold onto it and sit on it.

 

For a business, money sitting there doing nothing is not doing anyone any good.  Can’t pay bills.  Can’t make payroll.  Can’t purchase inventory with money that has to sit and, at some point, be accounted for.

 

So that begs the larger question for visitors.  Where should I exchange my money?

 

Out-of-hand, I used to  tell folks to change your money at the airport.  You’re already there.  It’s handy.  They have plenty of money. And the rates seemed about right for the market.

 

WRONG!

 

I didn’t realize that those exchange offices at the airport tack on huge “transaction fees” that pretty much erase any real pragmatic reason for using them.  If you have to use them, use them.  But, there’s better places.

 

For one, there’s your bank at home. Start with them.  You know them.  They know you.  You have an account or two with them. They won’t ding you so hard.

 

If you didn’t get it done before you left home and now you’re in-country, the next place I’d hit is the various money exchange houses around town.  In tourist places like Cabo San Lucas or larger cities like Ensenada or Tijuana, you’ll find them all over.

 

Some are just little kiosks.  Others have small offices.

 

But, they’re easy to find.   And they’re competitive.  Not just with the market rates, but against each other.  The want your business.  They want your dollars and are eager to hand you pesos.

 

Also in the larger tourist areas, they’re open all the time.  You suddenly realize you’re out’ve pesos for a late night taco run.  Or, you know that no one will be able to accept or break your $100 bills, you can usually find someone to change your money.

 

If you’re in a smaller community like La Paz, where we live,  or even smaller places, the money exchange houses will be harder to find and their hours will be more limited. But, they’re there.

 

So, try to think ahead.  If you need change after 5 p.m. you might be out’ve luck.  They‘ll be closed.

 

However, secondary and tertiary options can be found.

 

If you’re at a larger hotel, they can often exchange smaller amounts at the front desk.   For example you need to change $40 bucks that’s fine.  If you’re trying to change $500 dollars, not so fine.

 

But it’s subject to them having dinero in the til.  Don’t always count on the reception desk being able to make change or conversions.  But, it’s an option.

 

There are also larger grocery store chains that have “customer service desks” just like back home. They usually have more money on hand and offer pretty good exchange rates.

 

Just be aware that many places do not accept bills over $20 because of fear of counterfeit.  So, bring five $20 bills.  Don’t bring one $100 bill.

 

There are also ATM machines all over.  Personally, I avoid them.  There’s too many opportunities for fraud, especially in ATM’s on street corners or willy-nilly in markets or bars.  If your card gets eaten by the machine, it’s not like you can ask the bartender to get it out for you.

 

If you have to use an ATM, use one at a bank.  That way if there’s an issue, there’s bank personnel who can assist.  The ATM’s will dispense 200 peso notes (about $11).  And you’ll see a transaction fee on your next statement.  But, in a pinch, it’s better than nothing!

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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Hear Me Now Believe Me Later

stormwarning

HERE ME NOW BELIEVE ME LATER

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 27, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

In my last column, I was tapping away on my laptop just about a week after Tropical Storm Lidia smacked Southern Baja right in the nose.   Three weeks later, a lot of us are still digging out to a greater or lesser degree, especially, Cabo San Lucas.

 

It never quite became a hurricane, but it didn’t have to.  It was just as deadly.  Just as damaging.

 

I have been writing this column over a decade.   I have often documented what it’s like going through one of these uber-storms.  By my last count, I think I’ve gone through 8 hurricanes now and numerous tropical storms and depressions.

 

Lately, Mother Nature sure seems to be tee-ing off on our part of the hemisphere with hurricanes, fires and earthquakes.  It’s awfully humbling.

 

So, here I sit again.

 

However, instead of writing post-storm, I’m writing waiting for the newest, latest weather aberration, “Norma” to come rumbling our way up the Baja peninsula.

 

It started as a blip of “intermittent showers” on the weather forecast.  Within 30 hours, it grew to a tropical storm.  Then, it grew to a hurricane.  And now, back to a tropical depression.  But, it’s still coming.

 

So say the forecasts.  In the crosshairs.

 

Given how Lidia treated us last month, Norma has every reason to cause bunched-up-underwear levels.  For those of us who live down here and deal with nature on a daily basis; and who work and run businesses here; it’s faced with no small measure of trepidation.

 

Maybe, the anxiety is enhanced by the fact that we are in the hospitality business.  Other people’s well-being amplifies the ominousness.   That’s just the way it is when you live in a resort area.  Bottom line, we have other people to look after.

 

Ask those poor folks in the Caribbean who are digging out from Hurricane Irma whose livlihoods are based on tourism…hotels…fishing…restaurants…etc.  We have extra people we must answer to and be responsible for.

 

So, sitting here, I’ve often written about the destructive results of these meteorlogical calamities.  The torrential rain…the wind that sounds like a freight train…the utter darkness…falling trees…buildings blown to bits…flooding…mud and rockslides.  No water or electricity for days or weeks.  It’s impossible to understate the immensity.

 

But, sitting here, the STOOPID sun is out!  Yea, it looks like a postcard.

 

There’s barely a ripple on the water.  A gentle breeze strokes the edges of the overhanging palapa roof.  It’s 92 degrees outside and kids are playing with a rubber tube on the beach.  Dad’s got a beer in hand.  Mom’s reading a book.

 

What’s wrong with this picture?

 

According to the weather reports, all heck should be breaking loose real soon.  The heavens are gonna tear open a new one. Armageddon 2.0 is on the way.  Noah get the ark ready!

 

The port captain has closed the marinas down for two days now.  All boat traffic including fishing, diving, whalewatching and touring vessels are prohibited from leaving the harbor.

 

But…but…but…there’s not a cloud in the sky right now!  C’mon, man!  Are you serious?

 

We have clients boxed up in their rooms chomping at the bits to fish.  That’s why they’re here.  Or they’re tying on a serious buzz at the pool bar.

 

I’ve seen this before.  Too many days of this and it could get fugly.

 

It’s one thing to explain to folks that they can’t go out and play when it’s the deluge.   The sky is falling.  The drain is open.  Even the fish are hiding as are all creatures great and small.

 

It’s an entirely different issue trying to ask folks to keep their patience when the sun is out and it looks like a perfectly good day to be out on the water.  But, some picky-ninny bureaucrat has closed the port and ruined all the fun.

 

It’s like Disneyland.  It’s the “happiest place on earth” until you’ve waited in line and the ride breaks down!

 

It’s not supposed to happen on YOUR turn.  On YOUR vacation.

 

None of us want it to happen either.  Believe me, if we could control the weather, we would!  I’d grow back my hair and be taller too.  But, it’s not gonna happen.

 

I don’t like it when we get told we can’t play.  It’s like getting a time-out as a kid.  Yea, I’m gonna pout too!  It looks perfectly fine to go romp in the sand box and play in the water.

 

But, I get it too.

 

And I have to remind myself and try to communicate that to my clients that safety is the pre-eminent aspect in play.

 

The fisherman sitting in his room or hanging out at the pool often cannot see the forest for the trees.  It might look calm in the bay.  The sun could be out, but outside it could be howling wind and giant waves.

 

Unseen rollers and breakers could be out there already.

 

I’ve seen the deadly result when folks ignore the warnings not to take the boat out or not to go into the surf. Mother Nature is an unforgiving witch when she’s angry and you disregard the signs.

 

Here’s the biggest rub.

 

Remember, you’re in Mexico.  If you get in trouble “out there” especially when there’s warnings posted, chances are you’re on your own.  There’s no other boats that were foolish enough to go out.  The Coastguard isn’t going to look for you.  There’s no vessel assist program.

 

Often attempts at rescue, the rescuer is also lost.  A double tragedy.

 

So for now, we’re just gonna heed the warnings and sit here in the sunshine.  And wait for the storm to hit.  We watch and wait for the impending storm clouds.  We will endeavor to keep calm and chive on.

 

It’s times like this that I really pray for even a little rain to start.  Bring on some clouds and thunder to justify keeping everyone on the beach.  PLEASE!  It’s better than sunshine.

 

In the meantime… Keep everyone close and pass the suntan lotion.  Keep the blender going too.  Hopefully, they’ll forget there’s not a cloud in the sky.

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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JUST BITE ME

just bite me

JUST BITE ME!

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

It’s that time of the year in Baja.

 

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

 

Oh…and airline tickets are cheaper too!

 

More importantly…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It starts with water.

 

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

 

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

 

You, sir and madam, are the perfect host!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Let’s start with basics!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Which leads me to location.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fragrances can also be your friend.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

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SO CLOSE BUT SO FAR

SO CLOSE SO FAR

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

SO CLOSE SO FAR

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

There’s an old saying that goes something like:

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

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

It’s home court advantage.

It’s the dealer’s table.

Home team’s locker room

It’s the golf pro’s home course

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

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

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

Or tying your shoes a certain way before the bowling league

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Same waters.  Same fish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You get the idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s my story

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

I KNOW A GUY WHO KNOWS A GUY…

Know a guy

I Know a Guy Who Knows a Guy…

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Are you kidding?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Things can be returned and exchanged or fixed.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

That’s the guy you gotta find.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

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DINING IN THE DARK

tacos in the dark

DINING IN THE DARK

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

 

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

 

Poor us.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

These are not the same as American tacos.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A word about taco cart etiquette.

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

WHERE THE WILD THING ARE…er…WERE

216

Where the Wild Things Are…er…Were

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Where the wild things are.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Or to be more precise.  I was halted.

 

By a barbed wire gate.  It had a sign.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fast forward.

 

Two days ago. Mid-day Baja heat.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

 

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

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

Read Full Post »

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