Tejo – Colombia’s Explosive Sport
When traveling to a new country one of the most rewarding things you can do is experience the local culture. Whether it’s trying the food and drink, or attempting to dance like a local, there are many ways to soak in the way that other people live their lives. Sports are an aspect of culture that are a great way to better understand a country, especially in Latin America. If you know a thing or two about soccer, it should be easy to make friends in Colombia. Just make sure that you don’t say anything negative about Real Madrid, because Colombians worship James Rodriguez like he’s a member of their own family!! In addition to the the main sports, Colombians are also very found of more low-key, social sports where people gather together, drink and hang out with each other. One of these drinking sports that’s unique to Colombia and very popular in certain regions of the country is called tejo.
Tejo in Colombia
If you are visiting Colombia, at some point during your trip you need to experience a game of tejo. While there isn’t really any sports too similar, the closest one would be cornhole or bean bags. The first difference between tejo and cornhole is that instead of throwing a soft bean bag, you throw a heavy, little weight. Also, in cornhole you aim at a rectangular wooden board with a hole through it, but in tejo you throw at a rectangular pit of clay with a small metal ring in the center. The most exciting difference between the two is the way that you receive points in the game. While the objective is somewhat similar in that you try and throw your tejo or bean bag into a circle from a long distance, Colombian tejo has an explosive method of scoring. In the center of the metal ring there’s a small envelope filled with gunpowder. The way to get the most points is to land the tejo in the center of the circle and make the gunpowder envelope explode!!
When the objective of a friendly game is to create an explosion, you can imagine that a visiting a tejo arena is a very loud experience. Combine this with the fact that it is almost a requirement to drink aguardiente (the local sugarcane spirit) and heavy weights are being tossed through the air at head level, you need to be very aware of your surroundings during a tejo match!! That being said, as far as Colombian cultural experiences go, travelers to this fine country should consider at least one tejo game a requirement during their adventure. Also, if you take the time to learn the game and start to gain some skill, the locals will be very excited and impressed to see a foreigner mastering their local game!
Playing Tejo in Salento
Salento, Colombia is a great place to play tejo. Just a few blocks from the main square is a cancha de tejo (arena) called Los Amigos. They have cheap drinks and a large number of tejo courts to choose from. They also have mini tejo where the distance to throw isn’t so large which is great for getting started. If you get burn’t out on tejo you can shoot some pool, try and practice your Spanish with the locals that regular the place or marvel in how good these guys are at making tejo explosions!! Tejo is best enjoyed with a group, inquire at the front desk of La Serrana for directions on how to get there and we can help you put a group together.