The game is called Tejo and it’s a classic Colombian tradition that you don’t want to miss while you’re in South America. If you’re familiar with the game cornhole, tejo is kind of like that, only with explosive gunpowder!
How to play tejo
Two wooden structures called “tablas” are placed on opposite ends of a field. And in the center of the tabla is a metal pipe, which is your target. The rest of the frame is filled with clay to absorb the impact of the tejos, which are typically made of metal or stone.
Lastly, the center pipe is surrounded by small, exploding paper targets called “mechas” which are filled with gunpowder and ready to explode on impact.
If you’re a fan of the show Narcos on Netflix, you may remember the scene in a bar where Colombians are playing tejos in the background.
Anthony Bourdain also featured the game on an episode of Parts Unknown.
Colombian Tejo Rules
The rules are simple… 1 point for landing closest to the target, 3 points for exploding a mecha, 6 points for hitting inside the target, and 9 points for exploding a mecha and hitting inside the target at the same time. No points if you hit the backboard or if you miss the tabla all together.
First team to 21 wins. Which it turns out, is a lot harder than it looks!
Tejo isn’t the cleanest game because each turn ends with pulling your tejo out of the clay. So expect to get a little dirty, and don’t wear your finest clothes to play.
Tejo’s origin in Colombia dates back to about 500 years ago, and today you’ll find professional tejo teams in most cities and towns.
My friends and I are far from pro, and we were pretty terrible our first time.
But if all else fails and you haven’t exploded a mecha, you can always just stand two feet away from the target like us.
Where to play tejo in Medellín, Colombia
I filmed this video in Medellín, which is one of my favorite cities in South America. The easiest place to go if don’t have your own equipment is Cancha de Tejo Polideportivo Sur which is located within the Envigado Sports Complex. This is where we played. Games cost about 8000 pesos (or under $3) per person.
You can also contact a guy named Chris Cajoleas who runs TejoinMedellin.com where he teaches tourists and expats how to play. His “tejo tour” costs 30,000 pesos (about $9) for a tejo lesson, 2 hours of gametime, and it includes two beers. He teaches out of the same location I mentioned above in Envigado. Aside from the lesson, he’ll also make sure you go at a time when the place is open because the hours vary and you can’t always go by the hours you see listed on Google.
Watch more videos from Colombia
Below are a few of my favorite videos from Colombia, or you can browse all of my travel videos.
Where do all the flowers come from? – Join me at “El Cultivo Casa Loma” in Santa Elena, Colombia where I discover just where exactly all those FLOWERS come from on Valentine’s Day?
The Most Beautiful Stone House in the World – Join me at Casa Santiago y Gloria – a beautiful home in Envigado Colombia that was built stone by stone over the course of 32 years by a visionary man for the woman he loves most.
11 Colombian New Years Traditions – Colombians have some awesome traditions for New Years! They call them – agüeros – which translates in English to – omens – and these agüeros are intended to bring Colombians and their families good things in the coming year.
Two Beaches Are Better Than One – Welcome to Cabo San Juan del Guia, a magical beach with a dual coastline, located in the heart of Tayrona Park Colombia. This is one private beach you’ve got to earn, as it’s only accessible via a 2 hour hike from the park’s entrance.
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