Slicing in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
We have a special affection for this Unesco World Heritage town. This is where our pickleball addiction began in February of 2017. We had been nomads, traveling for two years, when we arrived in the beautiful and historic colonial town. I was looking in a small newspaper for local activities where a small mention was made of a group playing the sport at a local "deportivo" (sports complex). Ky and I were excited to go give it a try again after so many years - 28 years earlier (see our first blog post)!
Back then, in peak season in February, the group there was a mixture of primarily Americans and Canadians snowbirds who spend winters in the mild climate. I'm guessing if you're a player, that you remember who taught the game to you. We had Bob, a very nice Canadian, (aren't they all nice though?) who patiently reminded us of the rules of the game and he played with us many times. There were many others, like Victor and Evelyn and Fred and Barb and Gordon (locals who still live there) who spent time playing those first tenuous games with us, who repeatedly explained getting to the kitchen line. We stayed in SMA as it commonly referred to for almost a month, and by the time we left a month later, we were hooked and thinking about where we could get our next pickelball "fix".
It was great to be back, this time for almost two months. We were house sitting for a woman who had to return to Alaska for business reasons. This time of year is the very low season. Most all of the snowbirds have flown north, leaving a core group that plays year round. This time of year, it was quite warm and dry, but the benefit was that the courts were available to play to our heart's content. We like to play early though, and we arrived at 7 with our own net and set up in the one permanent fenced court. The temperature at 7 is awesome - cool and calm. If you don't have your own net, paddles and balls, you have to wait for the locals with keys to the equipment lockbox. They usually arrive at 8. There is some set up which has to be done - nets to ring the courts to keep balls from traveling too far, and temporary nets to set up on a potential of 3 multi-purpose courts that are in reality only used for pickleball. Due to the way things work in Mexico, it is unlikely that other than resurfacing, that these courts will ever be improved further.
It can be a challenge to find the courts as the sports center is quite large and there are various levels where different sports are being played and classes like zumba or yoga are being taught. There is parking available, and the deportivo is on the local bus route if you are in town without a car. To get to the courts, they shows up on Google maps in English as "Municipal Sports Unit" https://goo.gl/maps/nWMPZuFzEVq1QPNF6
Go in the front gate and keep walking straight ahead going down stairs until you almost reach the end of the park. You will see some tennis courts on the right and the pickleball courts are on the left. If you get to the basketball courts, you've gone too far.
In the peak season, there are more players than courts, a problem that is increasing over time as more people discover the sport. The core group who lives there year round is working to get more courts at other venues in town. They have been limited to the four courts they currently have, being told by the local government that there is no more room for expansion of pickleball in the park.
Days of drop-in play for all levels are M,W,F and Sun from 8:30 until 11, or whenever the last person with a key to the lock box is ready to leave. Paddles are available to borrow and balls are provided. There is a small fee to play of 50 pesos a day or 300 pesos for the month to help cover the cost of balls and nets. More advanced play (3.5 up) is on Thursdays and Saturdays.
By the way, if you're wondering if it's safe in this area for visitors, the answer is a resounding yes. Please feel free to write for further assurance if you would like to. We have driven in 28 of the 31 states so we have a pretty good sense of how things are. Of course, just as in any place you travel in the world, you have to use good common sense.
There are so many incredible restaurants, (favorites Rustica - tell Eduardo hello for me, the rooftop of the Rosewood hotel for sunset and drinks, and Inside Cafe for any dish plus a must have Limonada Jamaica, and La Parada for Peruvian food - need a reservation.) Email me if you try one out and let me know how it was!
There are more art galleries and stores (favorite - Fabrica Aurora) than you will possibly have time to visit, even if you decide to move there, as so many Americans and Canadians have.
If you decide to drop in, please tell the gang we said hello! We're already missing them.