Tropical Cancer—It Won’t Cost an Arm or a Leg

It Won’t Cost an Arm or a Leg

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Every Saturday morning precisely between 10 and noon, there’s a pick-up softball game at the soccer field in Bahia. This is coed, purely recreational, and all are welcome — especially chiropractors. You’ll find expats, travelers, locals, kids and other fool-hardy types in the field and plenty of onlookers in the shelter of a large ficus tree, which serves to block Chuck’s sharply hit foul grounders. I’ve come to think of my Saturdays as a weekly Labor Day of sorts, where family and friends come together to forget about “all that other junk” and concentrate on the truly important things in life: Beer, Mike’s baked goods, and a tropical breeze in the shade with good company.

All equipment is provided (donations accepted). Any age, gender, or trans-gender can participate — even Republicans. In all the years I’ve played so-called “recreational” softball (in “hangover” leagues), I’ve never been with a more socially accepting crowd. Our group is so positive that if you fall down during play we call it “learning to fly” haha. In the heat of battle there may be a contested call, but our “Commissioner,” Señor Bicker, is so annoying to argue with that we all just let him have his way (usually). Play ball! Besides, he knows the rules of the game from as far back as 1887 — some of which are news to the rest of us. (Who knew that a “pickle” is trumped by committing yourself to advancing more than halfway to home? The “Don” of Uvita softball knew.)

If that doesn’t impress you, the fact that there’s a bathroom on site should. 

One of my favorite aspects of this unique gathering of people from many parts of the world is watching the neophytes learn the game. I love that they have an interest in not just the ambiance, but the sport itself. Plus, they save me from getting picked last, again. (Reminder to self: When telling a beginner they have to tag the runner with the ball, specify that doesn’t mean they should throw the ball at their head.) Come brush up your ballgame chatter and learn Swing batter! in three languages. Don’t worry, there’s no barrel-chested pros on the field. Some of us regular players can make a routine play look like an inept suicide attempt.

It doesn’t matter what mood you’re in, or how pre-occupied you may be with the neighbor’s stupid rooster, or the bank misplacing your savings, or that you forgot where you parked your quad, softball can quickly take your attention off such inconveniences with a blistering line drive to the kneecap. When Mitch tried to catch a throw from the outfield with his nose he completely forgot about the dog digging up that medicinal plant. On a deeper, more satisfying and less painful level, softball puts you in the moment. When I step on that diamond, I’m all about no mistakes and head in the game. Where am I going when the ball comes to me? There’s no tomorrow when you take the field or pick up the bat, only now.

Okay so maybe it’s not for the faint of heart — but for the young at heart, at least, it’s not to be missed. Compared to surfing, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t get an appendage chewed off. Amazingly, this activity is free (a small donation is encouraged to help pay the groundskeeper). Even more amazingly, the road there is paved. 

It’s good to bring a chair if you can’t hack metal bleacher seats, and water (not sure what that’s for). Which reminds me, visit Oscar and Irina’s Discount Liquor Wine & Cigars in Uvita before the game and tell them you’re going to play softball. They have a great selection and you’re going to need the fluids. (If you’re really out of shape, cheer up! They may feel sorry for you and offer a discount.) Rainouts (surprisingly rare) usually migrate across the road to Flutterby House.

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