Introducing Eureka Ball - The Not So Long Way Down - CycleBlaze

November 13, 2018

Introducing Eureka Ball

Rest day in Monterrey

We decided to take a rest day at the Hotel Celeste. It's a really nice place and we were both still feeling a little tired from some long days riding during our last days in the States. In the morning we relaxed, wrote some blog posts and edited photos. There was one moment of excitement when a couple of light aircraft started flying low over the town. They kept circling around and made several low passes over our hotel. Not sure what that was about!

Our hotel
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Low flying aircraft
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They made several low passes over our hotel!
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Keith KleinHi Chris,
This is a cropduster plane. You can see the spray bars at the back of the wings. Don't ride under them, you might get sprayed with insecticide or worse!
Cheers,
Keith
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4 months ago

Around midday we decided to venture out and see what we could find in the town we were in. Well, we found very little. It's just a small town that a main road ploughed straight through (hence the hotel, I suppose) and we thought there would be a few places to eat, but we walked along the main highway without finding anything open. The liveliest place in town was the police station, with a disproportionate number of police vehicles outside for such a small place, but this is the north of Mexico of course. So far we have felt completely safe, but this was a reminder that we need to keep on our toes. Aside from that there really wasn't much of anything else to see, although we did find a playground which I turned into an outdoor gym by doing some chin-ups on the monkey bars. Got to keep my upper body in shape somehow.

Ejido Monterrey as viewed from a pedestrian overpass. This is most of the town right here.
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So we wandered back towards the hotel and stopped to eat lunch at the same place where we'd had dinner the night before, the only place in town that was open. We ordered tacos with beans that we could load up with as much guacamole and fresh veggies as we could fit in. The tacos were not crispy like I think of tacos, they were really soft like tortillas, but who am I to tell the Mexicans what Mexican food should be? We found it kind of hard to hold all the food in the soft taco and cram it all in our mouths without spilling it. But when we looked around at the other customers they were doing it just the same as us and just not worrying if they got their hands messy, and we carried on in this Mexican eating style, as expertly demonstrated by Dea here:

Expert demonstration of eating Mexican tacos Dea, thanks!
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Andrea BrownYou will be eating a lot of tacos in Mexico. If you see hard shelled tacos anywhere other than a Taco Bell it would be quite a surprise! Dea’s technique is perfect, by the way.
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4 months ago
Chris PountneyTo Andrea BrownThanks Andrea! That's made Dea feel better!
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4 months ago

Back at the hotel we decided it was time for a game of Eureka Ball, a game some of you will be familiar with from Different Parts of Everywhere. Those of you not yet fortunate enough to have been introduced to the game, it is something I invented in the American town of Eureka, and it has since swept the nation in something that can only really be described as a craze. I personally know of at least 12 people that have played it already, and now it was time to bring it to the people of Mexico, and, so long as you are willing to try something new, to you too.

It's a game for two, three, or even four players. Each player has two targets on either side of them. The targets can be T-shirts or something similar, anything you have really, but we've found that the best thing to use is pannier bags. They are placed two yards apart and the player stands between them as if in a goal. In the two player version the goals are five yards apart facing one another, in the three player version they are arranged in a triangular formation, and in the four player version they are in a square. Each player stands between their two pannier/T-shirt targets and the game begins. One player throws a tennis ball (or as it will one day become known, a Eureka Ball ball) and tries to hit another player's target. One point is awarded for a successful direct hit (without the ball hitting the ground first). If the defending player should make a clean catch however, that player earns two points. However, the point-scoring player must shout out "Eureka!" in order to earn the points, forgetting to do so before the next throw means the points are missed out on. An additional rule is that one point is deducted from a player's score if the ball is thrown through their legs, which is quite frustrating and humiliating. After each throw possession of the ball passes to the defending player, unless the ball bounces out into the middle of the playing arena, in which case a 'freeball scramble' ensues and any player may run forth and claim possession for themselves.

One point is awarded to the thrower here for a successful direct hit
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In this example the defensive player has earned two points for a clean catch. As a side note, baseball gloves are not allowed in Eureka Ball and the player on the right should be sent off and banned for three matches for bringing the game into disrepute
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There was a grassy lawn in the courtyard of the hotel replete with trees that appeared to be growing grapefruits on them, and this seemed to be a very fine area for setting up our game of Eureka Ball. However, we thought it would be polite to ask the hotel owners permission first. The English-speaking man was not around today, however, and so we had to ask a Spanish-speaking woman instead. This gave us a good opportunity to learn another Spanish phrase, the all important "Can we play a game on your lawn please?" Dea found the translation on her phone and walked over to the woman, ready to read it out. The woman shook her head and pointed over to another girl who had just arrived, who presumably could speak English, but I insisted, "No Dea, you can do this, go ahead."

"Po...de...mos... ju...gar... un... jeu...go... en... el... ces..ped?" she said, stumbling over the words and the pronunciation and then looking up, expecting the woman to shake her hand and not understand like they did whenever we tried to venture into the local language across Asia.
"Si, Si!!!" replied the woman, like it was a request she got every day. She had understood! This Spanish thing was too easy.

We set up our front panniers five yards apart on the grass and the game got underway. Dea made a tremendous start, hitting my panniers with alarming frequency. I was struggling. All of my throws seemed to be off. My arm didn't feel right. I think it was all the chin-ups. I was soon falling far behind. We were playing to 30 points and Dea was ahead 11-4 in no time. I tried to focus and got a good throw in, 11-5, great. Now I just needed to make a catch and I'd be back in the game. I stretched out wide, made myself big, tried to cover both targets at once. Dea picked up the ball and rolled it down the middle, straight through my legs. It was 11-4 again.

Things only got worse, soon it was 16-6. I was trying ever so hard. I'm a very committed Eureka Ball player, I like to try and anticipate where the throw is going to go and dive early in the style of a football goalie. Unfortunately Dea was getting wise to this and would do a fake throw, wait for me to crash to the floor, and then toss the ball towards the unguarded target. She seemed to find this very funny and was laughing an awful lot. I decided that I couldn't stand for this humiliation and was going to have to launch one of my legendary comebacks. Then Dea threw the ball through my legs again.

Enough! It was time! 23-12 down and being humiliated at my own game! I would stand for it no more. I started to play better. Got a few successful throws in. Then I made a diving catch to my right. Dea was starting to get nervous. The momentum had shifted. 23-19 and she was rocking. She steadied herself and got a few more points in, but I was on fire and she just couldn't stem the tide. 25-25. I threw to her right. Thwack, the ball hit the pannier and I had the lead. Dea levelled it up again. Then she went again to my right, I anticipated it, and a spectacular catch brought me to a 28-26 lead and sight of victory. I missed. Dea threw again, a catch would win it for me. I guessed right, the ball hit my palm, but bounced out again. Back to Dea and she had another turn. This time she made no mistake and it was 28-27. I shot again and missed. Dea missed. I missed. Dea missed. This was too tense now! I thew again and got a hit. 29-27! I was just one point from victory, and... Dea threw it through my legs again. I sighed, and ran after the ball. I returned and eyed the left pannier, hurling it down. Thwack! A direct hit that brought me back within a point of victory, but better yet, the ball had bounced out into the centre zone. I darted forward, kicking the ball away from Dea's outstretched hand with no care for her personal safety, scooped it up myself, ran back to my own  area and tossed the ball again at the left pannier all in one swift movement. There was the faintest of noises as the ball grazed the pannier, but there was a noise, a most glorious noise, the noise of victory. I jumped with glee, I ran around the lawn, I tossed my cap up in the air, I hugged Dea, I ran around some more, I dropped to my knees, I dropped to the ground, I lay there triumphant. I had done it! I'd won! The greatest comeback in the whole history of Eureka Ball was complete.

It's a great game, you really should try it.

Spanish phrase of the day: Podemos jugar un jeugo en el césped por favor? (Can we play a game on the lawn please?)

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