Good things come in small packages

Play ball!

Every year I take my daughter to a baseball game. She loves sports and gets a thrill from the whole experience: watching the game, eating a hot dog, listening to the fans, etc. She always asks about it as school draws to an end and we make summer travel plans.

generationsMost years my dad joins us and all three generations enjoy making a night out at an American pastime. Neither my dad nor I are real baseball (or sports) fans, but we both get a kick out of Nadia’s enthusiasm.

Our American summer holidays are spent in El Paso, Texas, where my parents have retired. There’s no major league team there, but there is a minor league team. The city recently upgraded its AA status to AAA, and built a new, bigger stadium downtown to host their new team, the Chihuahuas.

chihuahuasSo the three of us headed downtown to watch the Chihuahuas take on the Albuquerque Isotopes. It was a pleasant evening in El Paso, with clouds threatening rain but only serving to keep the heat down. There was a middling crowd at Southwest University Park, which meant we had space around us and we didn’t disturb others too much by our constant to-ing and fro-ing for refreshments. Our balcony seat got us a good view of the action, and we discussed the gameplay between us and with a few folks sitting around us. Nadia was hoping to catch a ball, but had to settle for watching someone else in our section nabbing a foul ball. We also had to swallow a Chihuahuas defeat, as the Isotopes dominated the evening.

The game wasn’t on television, and there is never any coverage of the Chihuahuas outside of El Paso’s own newspaper, but that’s part of the appeal to me. I’ve been to major league games, and I’ve got friends who are devout fans of big-name teams, but I’ve really grown to appreciate and prefer the smaller and lesser-known.

The Chihuahuas’ stadium is smaller and cozier than big-league parks, giving it almost a family feel. There’s a sense of community among the crowd, the staff, and the team. It’s also easier to get into and get around – and the tickets are much more affordable! The city is much the same: driving downtown and finding parking nearby is super easy. El Paso in general is a delightful small city – big enough to have many amenities but small enough to feel comfortable and be easy to navigate.

I’ve found this so often in my travels: that less is more. I infinitely prefer the quieter, lesser-known charms of cities such as Bratislava over fancier, more popular places like Vienna. When you’re not part of an enormous crowd, being jostled and hustled and herded into overpriced and overhyped attractions, you can enjoy the place for what it is and feel more part of the place rather than just a tourist.

So I thoroughly share my parents’ love for El Paso, a friendly and charming although understated city. And I love watching the Chihuahuas play, win or lose. #GRRR


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