Of Beer and Explosions - The Daily Grog

By many accounts, travel bloggers, writers, etc., Cali is still one of the most dangerous cities in Colombia. My experience in Cali tells me that those accounts overstate the dangers. Like most cities, just follow the “don’t be a dumbass” rule, and you’ll be fine.

On one of our nights in Cali, we decided to go out and find a place to play tejo – a Colombian game originally from the Andes. Of course, I had to find the same place a hero of mine played, the late great Anthony Bourdain.

We get to Social Club Los Amigos on a Friday night, and almost instantly, we felt the gaze of the all the eyes in the warehouse on us – Steph and I don’t exactly blend in. But after some initial amusement, people carry on.

There were three tejo courts, all filled with old Colombian men watching, drinking, playing, and of course, talking shit. Well, they were speaking Spanish, so I can only assume that’s what was happening, but it doesn’t take much to translate “you suck” through body language.

The idea of the game is to throw a metal puck about 20 feet toward a target filled with clay and four small paper triangles filled with gunpowder placed around a metal ring.

You hit one of the triangles, it goes boom. There’s some scoring system, but the explosion is about as far as I got. What else do you want anyway?

Oh, and did I mention drinking? Yeah, there I plenty of that involved too.

Steph and I sit on the sidelines of the tejo court, watching the masters for quite some time. Eventually, we made some friends, and through some very broken Spanish, I managed to weasel us onto an open court.

The collective eyes of everyone around us were back on us, fixed intently at the gringos about to attempt to play their game, knowing this probably won’t end well for them.

With the tejo puck and a beer in hand, I feel like it’s my time to shine. It can’t be that hard, right? I’ve played enough drinking games in my life that it can’t be that much different.

Wrong. So fucking wrong. It is, in fact, quite difficult.

Ok, more beer is needed, I thought. It’s probably like beer pong, so a few more beers are necessary to reach peak tejo proficiency.

Still wrong.

In the two hours Steph and I were attempting something called tejo, we managed to make an explosion happen 4 times?

And each time, the entire building erupted with cheers and applause, what I could only assume was some combination of genuine amusement and mockery.

We shall meet again, tejo.

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