If you like to drink beer, get your hands dirty and play primitive games, then “Tejo” (pronounced te-ho) may be just what you are looking for. Considered one of Colombia’s national sports, the game dates back more than 500 years and was originally played with a disc made of gold. Anyone can play the game and it does not require you to be in good shape. What you do need is a good throw and a bit of coordination.
The game involves a 18 meter long court called “la cancha” – kind of like a bowling lane, but without the slippery floor. In each end of the lane there is a wooden board standing vertically connected to a clay-filled box with a metal cylinder in the center. Around the edge of the cylinder small firecrackers are placed. All you need to play is a metal disc known as el tejo.
Confused, then take look at the graphic of the court below.
And here’s a close-up of the board and box:
1. The board
2. The box
3. The Clay
4. The metal cylinder
5. Small fire crackers
The rules are simple: Throw your tejo underhand like a softball and aim for the center of the metal cylinder. The winner is the player who gets to 27 points first.
There are 4 ways to earn points and only one winner of each round.
Mano: 1 point is given to the tejo that is located closest to the metal cylinder. It has to stick in the clay to count.
Mecha: 3 points are given to the tejo that hits a firecracker and make it explode. If this happens the round is over and players who have yet to throw miss their turn. Please note that the tejo does NOT have to stick in the clay to win the mecha points.
Embocinada: 6 points are given to the tejo that lands inside the metal cylinder and sticks to the clay. If this happens the round is over and players who have yet to throw miss their turn.
Moñona: 9 points are given to the tejo that makes a firecracker explode and sticks to the clay afterwards inside the metal cylinder. If this happens the round is over and players who have yet to throw miss their turn.
That player that wins the round will be the first one to throw in the next round. Each round you switch between the sides of the court. You don’t wanna walk too much, right?
You should be at least 2/3 of the court length away when trowing. In the beginning you may go closer, but try moving further away as you get a hang of it.
I’ve never heard of a maximum number of players, but just like in bowling, I’d recommend no more than 6 players per court.
The best place in Cali to play is a place called Los Amigos – made “famous” by Anthony Bourdain’s visit while filming for his TV-show Parts Unknown. It’s free to play, all you pay is your food and drinks. The beer is cheap and I’d recommend you try their Picada – a massive plate of fried pork, sausages, beef, potatoes and plantains – enough to give you a heart attack, so make sure you share 🙂
It’s mostly men who play. Lot’s of old men actually, but women are more than welcome and this should not keep you from going. Try to go on Thursday, Friday or Saturday late in the afternoon. Show up too late though and the place will be packed and you’ll be waiting in line to play.
Los Amigos · Calle 49 # 8a-23 in Cali, Colombia
It’s located near the Air Force (base Aerea) and should’t be hard to find for a taxi driver.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 3:00 p.m. They also open Sundays, if Monday is a holiday.
Telehpone: 442 1258