DINKS IN PARADISE. FLY AWAY WITH US.
October in the Northern states begins to get cold. My weather app shows a frost with a high of 51. The angle of sun is paltry and depressing and I feel dull. I sit in my car waiting for the others to show up and I can see the last leaves twirling on the court as a bird sings solo on the branch of a leafless tree.
We stand at the kitchen, dinking, blowing on our hands, fitting our ear warmers and gloves and jumping to move our blood.The little fluorescent ball is hard and spinless. Somebody yells out," 0-0.....2? is it twooo?" "Yes, 2!" I yell, annoyed. We drive and dink and go through the motions but secretly we ache for summer Pickleball.
"You know what we need?" I say, smiling. "We need a trip! We need a pickleball trip somewhere warm." My partner yells out, "Yes!"
I find a company on-line called Pickle-Well that does luxury pickleball travel to warm places. I choose the Punta Mita Mexico package that includes a villa, a golf cart, breakfast chef, pickleball court time at the Four Season's Tennis Center, instruction and even a sunset cocktail sail trip. It looks awesome!
I create an out of office memo, call my bank, pack my pickleball and street clothes, passport, and set my alarm.
The flight into Puerto Vallarta is breazy, non-stop. The approach, from Jalisco down the Cuale River, swollen, brown and turbid from rains, is Jurassic and verdant with green jungled mountains flowing rivers and the long blue arc of Bahia Banderas. So different from home right now.
We collect our bags, pass through the throngs of time-share sharks and walk through the glazed doors into the wall of humidity, to our waiting driver. We drive north through Puerto Vallarta and up the coast past Buceria. The tiny stores, panaderias, taco stands and electronics shops widen and finally dissipate as the road winds away from all- inclusives into the jungle.
We slow over the traffic humps coming into town, noting the churrro stand on the corner we have heard so much about. The man at the gate welcomes us, sweeping his arm in a loping gesture as if to say, the world is yours. We drive past the PBI tennis center under a canopy of jacaranda trees that meet above the flower lined road. A golf course on our right, green everywhere. We turn left toward our Villa at Hacienda De Mita.
We open the heavy front door to a woosh of air con and the unmistakable smell of Mexican linens- a mix of sweet fabric softener and tropical mildew, that has always enraptured my senses. I wish they bottled it. "This is amaaaaazzzzzzzing," my wife says, clutching my lapel and kissing me hard on the face.
There is a bottle of Vuevre in the refrigerator compliments of Pickle-Well, its unmistakable orange label reminiscent of so many fun times in my life. I pop it and pour flutes all around and toast to my friends. "To all you dinks and to dinking in paradise."
We take the golf cart to Sufi, one of the beach clubs included in the package. I notice the warm air breaze flowing off the water and through the guazian curtains that make the space feel Moroccan. We order Margaritas, eat chips and salsa and wait for our meals to arrive. When they do, they are piled with butterflied shrimp and lobster, Cilantro creme sauce, rice, limes and fresh vegetables, all smelling acutely of garlic and butter.
We wake to a chef creating Juevos Rancheros, Chilliquillas, and burritos at the kitchen island. We finish up and make our way to the PBI, Four Season's Tennis and Pickleball center to meet Miguel Lopez- the Pro. Shaking out some cobwebs, I hit with my wife, stretch and then listen to Miguel walk us through our day- Serve, ground stroke winners down the line, overheads,third shot drops, cross court dinks, driving, ball direction change, spin, strategy and round robin.
We are spent after. This calls for cold cold Pacificos in the pool. My bottle sweats as I squeeze lime down inside. I rest on the edge of the infinity pool looking out at a whale breaching in the bay. She plays for an hour, hitting the water with her fin. We do the same. laying in the pool, playing around, thinking about where to go to dinner and what the next few days will be like. If they are anything like today, this will be the trip of a lifetime.
Top things to do on a Punta Mita Pickleball trip.
Learn to surf at El Surf Club.
Sail to Marieta islands
Teresas Tacos/Churro stand in town.
Baracuda for lunch on Punta Negra.
Yoga/Spa Four Seasons Spa.
Sufi Ocean Club.
Hike Monkey Mountain.
El Pescador for dinner.
Mary's Mita for happy hour.