Jonathan Roldan – BAJA BEAT

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Monday, February 20, 2012
Yellow fever
Thursday, April 05, 2012
How deep is deep sea fshing?

Changes in attitudes one year later
So, here it is. As I’m writing this, we’ve been on the road 78 straight days now hitting all the major fishing/hunting shows…Denver, Sacramento, Portland, Vegas, Seattle, Long Beach…just to name a few. New show every week. 13,000 miles of driving and, by the time you’re reading this, we’ll be at our 11th show at the Fred Hall Show in Del Mar near San Diego.

So, we see thousands of you all at these shows and many of you have asked about the experiences we had last year on our promotional tour. If you remember, last year, several times at every show we were actually accosted…mostly verbally…sometimes physically by knuckleheads telling us to:

“Go back to your country!”
“How did people like US get into the show?”
“Everyone of you effing people from Mexico should be killed…”

Y’know…lovely pleasantries like that. Every city. Every show. Not just the cities like Boise, Idaho or Billings, Montana either.

The worst were at the shows in Sacramento and Long Beach, California. Yup…you’d have thought folks in these hubs might be a bit more enlightened. So did we!  

It’s a bit unsettling when a guy in an Izod polo shirt with a Tag Heuer watch and a wife looking like she just came from the spa grits his teeth, reaches across the counter at my booth and pokes his finger in my chest and hisses at me, “They oughta just nuke the whole stupid country.”

Well, we got hundreds of e-mails and letters about our experiences.  Outrage. Embarrassment. Support. Most agreed that there’s some folks out there that just have their underwear on a little too tight. We didn’t take it too personally.  

But after decades of doing shows and meeting the public, it seemed like the rage and frustration towards Mexico directly and us indirectly came out’ve left field.

So, what about 2012?

I don’t know what everyone was drinking or smoking in 2011, but it’s almost like someone threw the light switch the other way. Thankfully, we’ve had very few incidents this year.  

In fact, just today while here at the Salt Lake City ISE show, someone did tell me, “I’m not going there to Mexico where they cut off everyone’s head!” He didn’t stop at our booth to say more or have a discussion. He said it loud enough for others to hear and his buddies to laugh. But that was it.

We’ve had maybe only half-a-dozen actual heated exchanges. And they were quickly dissipated. Either we got the person to walk away. (No loss…anyone that tight will never visit Mexico anyway so why waste the energy!)  

Or, in two or three situations, the angry person unknowingly walked up while our booth was surrounded by friends and clients who quickly bristled and got their own dander up.  

The guy opens his mouth and gives us a piece of his mind. Party foul!  Don’t call out the host in front of the host’s friends! The bad guy gets chased away really, really fast by friends who give him a bit of his own vitriol.  

“Buddy, you need to take a hike!” “You’re a jerk, keep walking.” “Back off, amigo, you’re full of…” Well, you get the idea. It’s hard to suppress a grin still thinking about it. Thanks guys!

But honestly, I don’t know what’s changed. Maybe people are coming around and are untangling fact from sensationalism and realizing that, while Mexico has a lot of problems, much of what the media feeds us isn’t the whole story and is not reflective of ALL of the country. It’s a big place.  

The bad guys are not targeting tourists. Like pretty much anywhere else, there’s places in every city you shouldn’t visit places and things you shouldn’t be doing no matter where you are. I mean…why would anyone need to go into a dark alley in Ciudad de Juarez? Or, one in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or New Orleans, etc? Common sense!

In fact, statistics show that American tourism to Mexico has been on the rise the past year. Last year alone, something like 15 million Americans visited Mexico and you know what happened…NOTHING!

What we’ve found instead this year is people walking up to us and asking,

“What do you think about the violence?”
“What’s the real story down there?”
“Is it really that dangerous?”  

They really want to know. They want someone to give another side. And they listen. Really listen. And instead of a confrontation, it becomes an exchange of ideas. They may never come down to visit, but most times, I hear them say, “Wow, I didn’t know that. That’s really interesting.” They shake our hands and thank us. Hopefully with a little better understanding.

Now, I do hear people say that the ONLY reason we’re pimping this is that we have a vested interest in getting folks down to Mexico. Of course we do. We have a fishing business and a restaurant. To me, what’s good for us is good for everyone. A little understanding goes a long way. But, no matter what I say, people will still call it a sales job.

Well, just this week, none other than the  U.S. State Department officially recognized and declared that “no advisory” is “in effect for La Paz and the entire South Baja region.” (that includes Cabo and Loreto!). According to the State Department the report was compiled at the behest of American business groups worried about employee safety and NOT to appease various boosters of Mexican tourism, e.g. self-serving “salesmen” like me!

So, there you have it. The U.S. Government finally telling folks something most of us in Baja already knew. Come enjoy!

Reader Comments
Jon It bothered me last year when I read your remarks and it bothers me more now. I do not doubt that people here in the US make remarks about the violence in Mexico and that they are upset about it. I also know many people will make commnets about illegal aliens here in the US, and especially since our econom is in the tank and our country is broke and in debt. But for you to contine to imply that there was some sort of underlying racist undercurrent at fishing tackle consumer shows is a bit too much. You likewise mention that your reporting on this resulted in a huge reaction and a ton of publicity and well wishers, and I honestly feel this has fed your continued reporting on what was very likely an issolated incident. Issolated incidents and run ins with bad people happen at large consumer shows once in awhile, and I wish you would not be so quick to pull the race card. Obviously there are racist in the world, but I do find it hard to believe that you were under attack or in any fear of being harmed, to the degree you have implied. If you were I have to wonder why those in surrounding booths and security did not get involved and why you didn't also share stories of how good US citizens didn't rush to your defense.
John S
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