Live for the Moment

Daniela Moroz, Staff Writer

Winter holidays are synonymous with cold weather, snow, brightly decorated Christmas trees, family, and warm, comfy clothes. Winter usually means huddling under a blanket by the fireplace, hoping you won’t spill hot chocolate.


But not for my family.

The Moroz family Christmas tradition can be traced back to 1988, when my parents drove to the tip of the Baja Peninsula of Mexico in a green Chevy van. For them, that car was a mini hotel room complete with a bed and additional camping supplies, with “all kinds of room” for windsurfing equipment.

The destination: a long stretch of beach lining a small, quiet fishing town called Los Barriles (which actually means “the barrels” in Spanish), located about an hour north of Cabo San Lucas on the Sea De Cortez.

Driving down is an adventure in itself: after crossing the border, the well-maintained highways of LA turn into single-lane roads with cracked pavement and potholes. Mexican soldiers with machine guns search our vehicle at several checkpoints along the way, and all we can do is cross our fingers and hope for them to give us the “OK.” For my parents, it is part of the annual routine.

Stubborn cows stand in the middle of the highway and won’t budge. The highways are lined by cactus, dry shrubs, and rocks. The official vacation doesn’t end until we are finally back in the bay.

The town of Los Barriles changed since that first trip my parents made in 1988. Hotels have been established on the beach and houses for rent or purchase line the sand. A grocery store, restaurants, and even a bank have been built. Roads have been paved and the population has increased. The plot of land my parents and their friends use has become an official campsite, which means it is no longer free.

Two things about Los Barriles have not changed: the wind and the waves. The consistency of the wind and perfect waves keep the windsurfers coming back year after year, and my parents are no exception.

My family still makes the trip.

I have never experienced Christmas at home. A lot of people think that’s sad, but after all these years, I’ve realized Los Barriles is my home for Christmas. Kitesurfing, one of my greatest passions, is an activity I can do there on a daily basis. What better way to spend the holidays than doing what you love and only that for hours every day for 2 weeks, including on Christmas and New Years’ Day?

A day in Los Barriles begins with waking up early and watching the sunrise over the Sea De Cortez. A morning run on the beach is followed by some yoga, and then breakfast with friends. By that time, the wind starts to pick up. This signals the time for everyone to start making their way down to the beach with their equipment. Less than an hour later, a hundred kites can be seen on the water. We kite until the sun goes down (excluding a break for lunch at the local taqueria).

If there is no wind (which only happens once or twice), there is still lots to do. Snorkeling spots are all along the coast, and the closest one is only about 20 minutes away. Sometimes we spend a day out of town, maybe visiting Todo Santos on the Pacific side of Baja for surfing or going to La Paz for a more cultured experience. My friends and I went surfing in Todo Santos a few years ago. We took 3 cars, each with about 5 people and 4 boards. The waves were pretty big. We filmed everything with a GoPro, and made a long video about it afterwards.

One year, I went to La Paz with my parents and a few friends to go swimming with whale sharks – an incredible experience. We saw several whale sharks, each over 60 feet long, and we were able to swim within arms length of them.

A gathering at the hotel’s Palapa Bar is the pre-dinner destination to catch up with friends and discuss the events of the day and the dinner plan while sipping on margaritas (for the adults) and virgin piña coladas (for the juniors). The group then disperses for dinner. After filling up, a bonfire on the beach is made from wood, lighter fluid, some newspaper, and love (because it takes a lot of love and dedication to start a fire on a windy beach).

The trip is an incredibly fun break that I look forward to every year. The fact that I can only go there for 2 weeks in a year is what makes it such a special place, and a place I hope to return to every winter for the rest of my life.

The power of my parents’ tradition has me counting down the days until Baja. I think of sand, sun, waves, wind, and warm weather whenever Christmas or winter is mentioned.

I’ve learned that the best place to be for the holidays is around your family and friends, doing the things you love together, living in the moment.