Coming off the bus to the arena, I had no idea what to expect from this game. All I knew was that the game required a hook glove and a ball thrown against the opposite wall. However, el remonte is a game more complex than that. Remonte requires you to catch the ball off the wall and throw it in the same motion. When watching the pros do it, it looks not that difficult. However, it is quite the opposite. The remonte court is the same court use for another popular sport known as jai-alai. In fact, remonte is a special version of jai alai. On the remonte court, many grooves and numbers indicateing a player/ the ball position. The groves also serve another role in the game besides position. Remonte is one of the fastest sports in the world, with the ball going up to 300 km/h or 186 mph. With the ball going so fast, it’s hard to see where it lands. This is where the extra features of the groves come in. When the ball hits the groves, they make a unique sound. In fact each surface has a different type of sound. This makes it easy for spectators, players, and officials to know where the ball is at all times. After learning about the sport we had the chance to practice throwing and catching the ball. The ball the pros use is a hard plastic ball wrapped in resin but for our safety, we used a tennis ball.
Once the glove was put on my hand, I had difficulty getting the ball to reach the wall from throwing it with the glove. It wasn’t just me, however, almost everyone in the class had trouble figuring it out. But after 20 minutes of constant throwing and catching, most of us got the hang of it. To prove our new skills we had a competition to see who could throw the ball the farthest. Everyone was able to make it past the 4th mark, and a few people were able to hit it from the 7th mark, which is half of the court. It was super impressive.
The sport of remonte is a sport I would never have been interested in if I didn’t come to San Sebastián. It’s a very unique sport and requires a lot of skill, patience, and determination. Like most the things I’ve seen in the city, the basque people thrive on taking something that is already popular and elevating it to a new level. For instance, the basque people took the popular game of jai alai and transformed it into a the fast paced game of remonte. The food in San Sebastián is very similar to the food we Americans eat at home, like hamburgers and sandwiches. However, the burgers and sandwiches here are made with different ingredients and meat products, giving off a fantastic new flavor. The basque people take pride in doing this and do it well. There is comfort in knowing that something is similar and yet still new.
Remonte shows me how much the Basques value community. Remonte is not just a sport for the players but also a vast spectator sport. In the stands, they have live betting in which they throw money into a hollowed-out tennis ball and throw it to the bookie. When watching a match in any competitive sport, random people come together and cheer on their team. They feel the emotions the players feel, like the joy of winning or the sorrow of a bitter loss. The Basque people feel genuinely connected with the game. This fosters a tightly knitted community in which everyone can prosper.
Rmonte also shows how dedicated the basque people are. The gloves to play the game cost around €800 for amateurs and €300 for professionals. A hefty price just to even play the game. Each glove is handmade and can take up to 3 months to make. They only last up to 15 matches before they are too worn down. remonte requires a lot of investment, yet the basques still play and dedicate themselves. They understand the price but won’t let it stop them from playing.
My experience in this beautiful city has been breathtaking. Every day I’m surprised by the new things I find, such as a delicious pintxo or a new walkway. This city is not that big, but you still spend days walking around finding new things. Like most beautiful cities in Europe, everything is a picture. A picture that will live in my brain till death does me apart.