Growing up in the Midwest of the United States, cornhole (or bags) was commonplace at backyard BBQs and graduation parties.
I had always enjoyed rounding up friends and competitors alike, easily playing for hours. So you can imagine my excitement when I found a local Colombian game called Tejo (pronounced TE-HO) with glaring similarities to cornhole. It was developed over 450 years ago by the indigenous people and has a long history here in Colombia.
Standing approximately 22 meters away, players throw a dense steel disc at a box filled with clay. This disc is the tejo and the metal ring in the center is the bocin. Your goal is to hit the bocin with the tejo in an underhand toss. As with any new sport it can take a bit of practice. As an added bonus, mechas or little Dorito shaped packets filled with gunpowder, are placed around the bocin. The ultimate goal is to get these guys to explode, both for extra points and high fives. A quick review:
Tejo - The metal disc you throw
Bocin - The metal ring in the center
Mechas - Dorito shaped packets filled with gunpower and likely to explode upon impact
Players score one point for getting the disc closer than their opponents, three points for hitting a mecha, six points for getting the tejo disc in the circle, and nine points for doing all of the above. If you can't remember the scoring system, don't worry, there are usually folks on hand who keep track and call out the winning tejo each round.
Here in Medellin, you can rent your own Tejo board and BYOF (bring your own friends) for around 3,000 - 5,000 pesos per hour (approximately $1 - $3 an hour). Beer is excluded. There are also weekly meetups located throughout the city. A popular meetup is Tejo In Medellin. For 30,000 mil pesos (approximately $10 US dollars), you get a lesson, 2 hours of game play and 3 beers. I enjoyed the Thursday night group because it was lovely to meet a group of 20 new friends who quickly bonded over beers and explosives.
Who knew all those hours of backyard cornhole would be put to such good use? I only had one mecha explode, but became quite the expert at getting the tejo to land on the clay - which did win our team a handful of points. Although we didn't win, I still had an amazing time and loved that I participated in a game that is a rich part of Colombian history. Anthony Bourdain thought so too, check out his video about Tejo during his visit to Colombia.
I am continually in shock about how many sports, traditions and cultures that I had no idea existed until recently. Experiencing things like this opens my eyes to what a big, grandiose world is out there. This world is a giant book and in my life I've only read a few chapters, but I'm thrilled to speed up that process and read more everyday.