I’d like to talk about two Colombian games, the first of which is unique to Colombia and finds its roots in an ancient culture while the second is popular in Colombia and perhaps sprung from the former.
Tejo – “Horseshoes” with a bang
Tejo is a traditional sport in Colombia. If it were Americanized, it would simply be called explosive horseshoes. It is played by throwing a metal plate or disc weighing about 4 pounds at a target so as to make it strike the “mechas” (gunpowder) in the middle of the target. Whoever makes the most “mechas” explode wins.
The target is a clay-filled box with gunpowder in its center, such that an explosion is produced when the disc strikes the center. In June 2000, tejo, the modern version of the indigenous “Turmequé“, was declared a national sport of Colombia by the Congress of the Republic. The ancient sport was played over 500 years ago by the indigenous groups that lived in the regions of Cundinamarca and Boyacá.
The ancient sport called “Turmeque” involved the throwing of a golden disc, which evolved into a stone disk and eventually into the metal disc with which the game is played today. In Colombia, it is very common to find professional tejo chaccarron teams around the major cities and smaller towns. Most of these teams are sponsored by beer companies, which causes the teams to profit greatly because of the strong bond between the team and company. In the past, the playing of tejo was fuelled by “Chicha” (an indigenous maize-based alcoholic beverage), but nowadays the players refresh themselves with beer.
In this game, the metal toad sits on top of a box that has holes cut into it. Each hole has a point value assigned to it. Players throw metal disks at the sapo and try to get them into his mouth to earn the most points or into one of the holes for a lesser number of points. The player with the most points wins. It was a popular game in Colombia in the 1960s and ’70s and can still be found being played today throughout Colombia and in neighboring countries.