Baja con Amigos

Posted by Kurt Daradics on July 23, 2013


In 2008 I met Kris Krug. We share several auspiciously random overlapping networks, and since 2008 our friendship has blossomed into a deep personal friendship and working collaboration.  Kris is professional photographer / photo journalist and he has some fantastic clients including, United Nations, National Geographic, and the company that I'm working for, Esri.  Esri is the 2nd largest privately held software company in the US and we do lots of conferences for our users, partners, and so on. Kris gets hired to shoot these events, and so we find ourselves in great towns like San Diego and Palm Springs getting to spend lots of time together in what feels like collegiate environment. There are lots of new folks coming into Esri right (e.g. the Geoloqi crew) and Kris is part of this creative and dynamic new school of talent.

The past three years, immediately after the annual Esri International Users Conference in San Diego, we've taken a surf holiday down to a very special secret spot in Baja Mexico, and every year these trips keep getting better, and so we keep going back. In fact, all that participate would probably say this is their favorite week of the year. I know it it mine.  The weather and waves have never let us down. Plus the view from our front porch is world class, overlooking a solid point break and white sand beach.  One of my mentors, Duke Stump says, "you can't create the magic, but you can create the conditions for the magic to happen". I couldn't think of a better place to be with friends and watch some magic happen.

The core of the crew is Kris, his best childhood friend Donald Preston, and myself.





The past two years Kris' assistant Robert Mearns and his lovely girlfriend Jade Schleppe have made fatanstic additions to our posse. Kris, Robert and Jade all live in British Columbia, Canada. I find there non American perspective refreshing, earnest, and simple. They follow their passions and aren't chasing trends or pay checks. Both Robert and Jade are in their late 20's and they are some of the friendliest, fun and interesting people I've met in my many travels


Coincidence or not, Surfer Magazine's most recent issue had a feature story on the "Baja Renessaince" and one of the key points was that gringos are coming back less for the surfing and more for the vineyards. We were all delightfully shocked how beatiful and accessable the Gaudalupe Valley is. It's only a few minutes drviing East of Ensendada and it rivals Ojai or Napa Valley in it's physical beauty. Evidently these are the oldest vineyards in North America (probably from the Spanish settlers I'd imagine). The wine, the food, and the ambiance were all fantastic. The wineary that we visited was called Encuentro Guadalupe and I was delighted to learn abour their vision (social enterprise) and the impecably well designed grounds that all integrated naturally and seamlessly. Plus it was a real price performer as well.

Boy did we meet some characters down there. Meet Bill, the "Surfboard Surgeon" who was recommended to us from a trusted locat. Bill has lived in baja for almost 20 years and living a humble life repairing surfboards and practicing his Tai Chi. He definately checked out of the rat race long ago and he's built a very simple and humble life for himself that he seems to love. The waves were pumping so hard that all of my boards need some repairs, and Bill cranked out the work, and shared all sorts of yoda-esqe wisdom in the form of surfing parables. I'm the wiser for it, and even though I got a crash course in surfboard repair, i'll still take them to Bill to get fixed when I'm down there next.

We met up with some cool cats from Orange and Los Angeles Counties that we had met two years before and they do an annual trip that lines up with ours, so we had lots of fun with them on the beach and then getting our bohemiam hootnaney's on at night.

Some of us got to see some tanlines at night too.

Music is one of the highlights of the trip. The posse encourages me to play as much guitar as my fingers and focus can bear, and I've found these trips to be serious catalysts. The first we did in 2011 is what got me to start up jazz guitar lessons, and the posse noted my progress. Fun! In between the jams we have some great music on the stereo and this years Top Playlists included:

What happens in baja stays in baja. As one can imagine whenever there is extended holidays and tequilla involved that shannigans are bound to happen. Here's Jade celebrating the last bottle she helped polish off and it looks like a new one is about to be cracked open.

We're already booking 2014 and I am smiling now knowing that I have so many things to look forward to in this very short and bittersweet life. Baja con amigos sounds like heaven to me

Here's the flickr with some of Kris' fantastic photos. Check out and for more magic.