If you are traveling to Colombia, you are probably looking for the most authentic experience possible. Yes, we have amazing food, all kinds of landscapes, and the best parties ever.
But if you are also into how our ancestors used to have fun, we have the perfect plan for you and your travel partners. Have you heard about tejo? If not, we will tell you all about it.
Also known as turmequé, it is the only national sport of Colombia, and it has been played for more than 500 years. Even though it was only officially recognized as a national sport by the government in the year 2000, it has been part of the Colombian culture for centuries. The game comes from the Muiscas, a native community that was established in the existing territories of Boyacá and Cundinamarca.
It all started in the small town of Turmequé – hence the alternative name to the game – in Boyacá. It was there that all commercial activities between indigenous groups, as well as celebrations of special dates and sporting events, were carried out.
Back then, caciques – the native chiefs – used gold discs to play, and the story goes that they also used the game in order to choose the best woman, when polygamy was no longer allowed.
But that is enough information about the actual game, so let’s get down to business. The goal of the game is to hit the metal ring and any of the four paper gunpowder packets with a metal disc – yes, there is gunpowder involved!
It sounds complicated, but it is actually pretty simple. So, before we dig into the details of the game, we have prepared a shortlist of the Spanish vocabulary you need to know if you want to blend in with locals while playing.
Tejo: A 380 gr metal disc in the form of a cone.
Bocín: A metal ring, 4 inches in diameter, located in the middle of each clay board.
Mano: When the tejo lands very close to the bocín. Points: 1
Mecha: When a player hits and explodes one gunpowder packet. Points: 3
Moñona: When the tejo lands in the middle of the bocín. Points: 6
Embocinada: When a player explodes a gunpowder packet and lands the tejo in the middle of the bocín on the same throw. Points: 9
Now that you have learned the keywords of the sport, you are ready to step onto the field. It is 63 feet long and 8 feet wide with two clay boards opposite each other, at nearly 60 feet for professionals; you can find shorter lanes for amateurs.
You can play in two teams of up to four people, and the players will take turns to throw the tejo. The first team to score 27 points is the winner; however, if you are not playing in the national championship you can play as long as you want.
Everywhere you go in Cundinamarca and Boyacá you will definitely find places to play tejo. The less fancy the spot, the higher the level of the players, and the more authentic the experience will be. However, Bogotá has the most concentrated amount of iconic clubs, as they are also called.
Carrera 24 # 76-56, Bogotá
At this spot, you will find a few professional courts, but also lanes half the length that is meant for beginners.
Carrera 57 # 74A-33, Bogotá
This is where the Colombian Tejo Federation and the Cundinamarca Tejo League hold professional championships. On top of the seven lanes, the place also offers a great menu with the best of Colombian cuisine.
However, you could also see it is as an advantage because it means Colombia doesn’t only have beaches and jungle to offer.
Calle 69B # 70C-81
It got its name from all the people that come down to the place after office hours. Like most places, they do not charge for the lane, but you have to spend money on food and drinks.
Calle 16J # 103A-40, Bogotá
This spot also holds a lot of tournaments, mostly among amateurs. The crowd here is particularly young, because at night the place turns into a club, and the party goes on until the early hours of the morning.
So let´s do this! You are now offically ready to become a pro-tejo player!
If you need help or guidance with the planning process of your trip to Colombia, don´t hesitate to contact us. We have a team of travel experts looking forward to help you have the best holiday of your life.