The time has come for us to leave Zihuatanejo. (Zihua for short). This was supposed to be a quick three day stop and then on to points farther south. Then the battery ordeal parked us in front of this wonderful little town for nearly seven weeks. And while it seemed that life was giving us batteries full of lemons, the wonderful people of Zihau helped us make such wonderful and memorable lemonade. First of all the town is simply amazing. It is big enough to have everything one would need (well with the exception of course of a store that sells Lithium Batteries for boats). There are large grocery stores, hardware stores, doctors and dentists. The fresh foods and stores markets are vast and lacking absolutely none of the essentials. And all of this is within 15 minutes walking distance from the beach where we parked our dinghy (Rogue One). We anchored less than 200 meters from the beach just in front of the main part of town and in front of the beautiful malcone. The bay had lots of activities happening as tour boats, fishing boats, and water taxis crossed back and forth all day long. The waters were calm for the most part and we had deployed our flopper stopper so even when there was a slight swell coming into the bay it was tolerable. There was even a perfect spot near the lagoon along the coast line of the bay that was not accessible from shore that I was able to take Ranger twice a day to do his business. There was a small area about 20 meters square that became his bano and I did not even have to get out of Rogue One. I would get close to the rocks and he would jump off, do his business and then come right back to get picked up. The weather was as consistent as we have become accustom to, 30 degrees each and every day, sunny and clear, with light winds in the afternoon. The walking paths allowed us to explore nearly every area of the town. The market’s location and convenience enabled us to shop just for a day or two as opposed to our normal massive provisioning runs. The prices throughout town were simply fantastic. We could easily eat lunch for the four of us under $10 US. There were juice stands all throughout the town selling fresh cold juice the size of a big gulp for $1. We would fill our grocery bags with fresh vegetables, avocados, mangos, apples, peaches, you name it and it would cost less than $15. Just based on the location and size of Zihua I can see why many people choose to visit and never leave. But there is so much more to this town.
I was running along one of the many walking/running/biking trails one morning and I heard a sound that is music to my ears. It was the sound of a pickle ball hitting a paddle. I wandered through a few side streets and down an alley following the sound before I found a large basketball court that had three pickle ball courts and many players. I asked if drop-ins were welcome and I was met with an enthusiastic Si. So each day I got up early, went for a run and then played pickle ball in the morning. I would get back to the boat around noon and take over teaching for the rest of the school day. The organizer of the group of players is Emanuel who is the Mexican National Champion, the most amazing player I have ever seen and a really good guy. He gives lessons, organizes the play and offers tips and advice to anyone who would like it. He is extremely welcoming, encouraging and fun to be around. When I told him about my trip to Texas for the batteries he offered to find someone to go with me for safety. And when I declined he research and gave me a few phone numbers along my route that I could use if I ran into some trouble. When I did return he was noticeably relieved that I arrived safely. He was always having fun with Victoria and Alexander and let them play for free during breaks in sessions. He is a really great guy and I encourage anyone visiting Zihua to stop in and say hello to him and if you are a player there is not a better coach in the game of Pickle ball.
There were many amazing people in that group and I was fortunate to be able to play with them for so long. Larry who helps Emanuel with the organization of the games was welcoming and always there to offer assistance with anything that anyone needed. He was quick to welcome the kids and always willing to share one of his paddles. There were so many players visiting from Canada and the US that if I listed all of you this posted would be entirely too long. Just know, that if you are reading this I really enjoyed playing with you and will remember our time, our games and our conversations fondly.
The pickle ball group was large and diverse and full of wonderful people, but there was one in particular that stands out. And this girl will be standing out in the pickle ball world for years and years to come. The first time I met Aline I was on the opposite team. I was surprised because Larry had told me that this was a competitive bunch of players and here was a young, maybe 11 or 12 year old girl, on the opposite team. My partner saw my confusion and told me not to worry she was a good player. I nodded my acceptance to play against her but was not convinced it was going to be a competitive game and prepared myself for a slow game. After she hit the ball past me three times in a row I began to come around to the fact that this girl is no ordinary 11 year old pickle ball player. Aline and her partner crushed me and my partner 11-4. And so began my fascination with this pickle ball superstar. After the session I talked to Aline and asked if she would like to play/teach my kids some pickle ball. She looked excited to be able to play with kids so her parents and I decided to meet up so the kids can play. Soon this turned into an invitation to their home and then for dinner. Victor and Miriam are Aline’s parents and they are two of the friendliest and welcoming people you will ever meet. They welcomed us to their home and we had wonderful conversations about living and growing up in Mexico and Zihau. Over the next few weeks we would get together with their family, for dinner again, pickle ball playing and we gave them a tour of Samadhi. Victor and Miriam own two small stores that they run together. One of their stores has a full kitchen and we had a few meals with them while they watched the stores. Aline, Victoria and Alexander all worked together cooking and even made fresh chocolate chip cookies. We are happy to be able to move on and continue our journeys but we are very sad to be leaving this wonderful family in our wake. We told them that when Aline gets invited to the US Open for pickle ball (and it is WHEN not if) that we will meet them and try to show them the same amazing hospitality that they showed us.