Wednesday, 14 January 2009

a game for men

There is a pelota club near here. It is a large warehouse-like building from the outside, a dank musty den of cultural physicality within. I love it. The pelota court takes up most of the buliding. Running some 50 metres in length it is roughly 6 times the size of a squash court with two twenty metre walls running parallel to the rooftop windows that provide illumination. At one end is a plain high wall marking the court parameters, to the rear is the dark bar.

Each day men gather, drink coffee, watch the play and sit in silence. Each day players practice the sport exhausting one another with constant barrages of sweating muscular volleys as the leather ball is hammered the length of the hall. It is a game exclusively for men.

Pelota is played throughout the Basque world: France, Spain, Argentina, America, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Perú and Uruguay. There is a world cup and stars of the game are held in high regard due to the element of danger and level of skill required to partake. The fastest recorded volley was 302km/h. To date I am amongst those who enjoy their coffee in silence but secretly crave to brave it onto the court soon.

Basque of the day:- danger :: arrisku