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Tejo in Medellín

The sport of drunks*

overcast 25 °C

What better to do in Medellín on a dark Thursday night than play with gunpowder while drinking neat spirits? That’s tejo: the sport of drunks (*according to Wikipedia), and a Colombian tradition.

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The drive to the tejo venue seemed to take forever, because it really was a moonless night and I couldn’t see much. I think it was generally in the north of the city, and on the outskirts somewhere. The business is owned by an American guy called Chris who lives in Medellín, and is the only foreigner to play tejo at national level. He gave us our drink cards to exchange for shots of the local, anise-flavoured aguardiente (important!) then showed us how to hold and throw the tejo, a kind of metal puck that can weigh anywhere between 225-680g – small ones for the l-a-d-i-e-s thank you very much.

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The target is a sloped box of clay with a metal ring buried in the centre. Around the ring are pink triangular envelopes of gunpowder, called mechas. In friendly games there are 2, and in competition only 1. Excitable tourists get 4, because that’s more bang for your buck!

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In a round, if your tejo lands closest to the ring you get 1 point. If you hit and explode a mecha it’s 3 points. If your tejo lands in the centre of the ring without touching anything (a bullseye), you get 6 points. The holy grail is worth 9 points – landing your tejo in the centre of the ring AND exploding a mecha at the same time.

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After being coached through a few practice throws each, we were split into teams of 4 for a half-court game of first-team-to-10. During the game the two teams alternate until everyone has had a throw, then the referee adds up the scores and you go and dig your tejo out of the clay. Or like me, find where it has rolled to and just pick it up off the ground… At least it stayed clean.

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It was great fun and there were a few explosions, but sadly none from my tejo. I did manage to win one round, but that was a fluke, because most times I could barely hit the clay.

Posted by Andrea R 19:42 Archived in Colombia Tagged sport colombia medellin

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