TEJO: Colombia’s national sport

A couple of weeks ago I went to an end of the year party and we didn’t go dancing or riding around town in a chiva. Even better. We went to play Tejo. This Colombian sport involves hurling a heavy piece of metal towards a clay target laced with packets of gunpowder – yes, tiny explosives.

I dare say tejo is now one of my favorite sports. For one, it’s ancient. Indigenous people from the departments of Boyacá and Cundinamarca have been playing the game (then known as turmequé) for over 500 years, only back then they used heavy discs made of solid gold called “zepguagoscua”.  And then came those sweet old Spaniards with their horses, diseases and gunpowder. After that, small explosives were added to the game. And then there’s beer, beer, and more beer. This sport has fun written all over it.

Aim at the little pink triangles filled with gunpowder!

Did I mention there’s a lot of beer? It would be entirely too much work for a waitress to be taking beer orders every minute so instead the solution is to bring out an entire basket. We were a big group so it actually did make a lot of sense. Most places don’t charge you for the lane – as long as you buy a basket of beer, the lane is yours. Although drinking beer goes hand in hand with playing tejo, this game actually does require a lot of skill and practice. Only three of us (yes, I was one of them) actually hit the target and were rewarded with a small explosion.

And then there’s the food – this is a food blog after all. However, I wouldn’t say food is the highlight of this outing but one does work up an appetite. We ordered an assortment of boiled potatoes, plantains, chicken, beef, and morcilla and we devoured it all with generous spoonfuls of ají to spice it all up, and washed down with beer, of course.

You can play tejo in the city and in the countryside, outdoors and indoors, and any way you  choose, I bet you’ll have a great time. Below are two videos: one is in Spanish and seems to be from the 70’s and the other is a Lonely Planet video that shows a slightly more professional setting for playing (there’s not a beer in sight).

tejo, turmequé, boyacá

Statue of an indigenous man playing tejo in the municipality of Turmequé, Boyacá


About Diana Holguin

Bilingual voice talent and lover of food. Wayward Fork is where both worlds collide.
This entry was posted in Bogotá, Boyacá, Colombia and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to TEJO: Colombia’s national sport

  1. ekamati108 says:

    Love this entry! Id love to play in the new year. It seems like a spiced up version of horseshoes.

  2. caterina says:

    I’m looking for a good place to go play tejo and stumbled across your site,but unfortunately you don’t specify the name of the place or the adress….which one did you go to?

    • dholguin says:

      Hi Caterina,

      There are several places near Calle 76 along Carrera 24 – the place I went to was called Club de Tejo la 76. Have a great time!

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