Osos .. means: Bears - We were looking for...?
Trip Start Jul 20, 2011
81Trip End Dec 09, 2011
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Where I stayed
Parador Santa Rosa, Av 38N 28A to la variante
Santa Rosa de Osos is a unique mountain town, noted for it's religious history, and colonial style. It is a very beautiful town with colonial architecture and over 30 churches. When we were there in 2011 the city was just completing restoration of the area around the MAIN PLAZA, were the heart of local activity is.
From our camp, it was a brisk 15 minute walk (uphill) to the centre of town. We found only two main supermarkets, which were small, but had everything we needed, including fresh vegetables. The local activity was busy with shoppers, and many peasants waiting for busses to go to their villiages.
TEJO? - WHAT IS IT? - TEJO is a local traditional game, played by the natives here
What do steel projectiles, screaming men, and explosives have in common? The answer is the national sport of Columbia: tejo.
Never heard of it? It’s lawn bowls on steroids, or badminton with
hand grenades - a refreshing mix of adrenaline, testosterone and
gunpowder. And the proper way of playing, it’s said, involves consuming
ludicrous amounts of beer as you go. What could possibly go wrong? And
why does a sport as innocuous as bingo have to involve the potential of
dismemberment in crazy Colombia?
Tejo is based on a game developed by indigenous warriors
more than 450 years ago in Turmeque, in the Boyaca department, where it
was often played to earn the right to wed a spicy maiden from an
opposing tribe. Gameplay consisted of hurling golden discs into a hole
approximately 20 meters away. Some of these ancient gold discs can be
seen on display in regional museums, but most were melted down by the
Spanish in their tireless quest for the precious metal. However, the
conquistadors did make their own subtle improvement to the game - they
added explosives to the mix.
The sport’s current incarnation features dense steel discs, thrown into a box measuring one meter square at the far end of the tejo lane. A small paper triangle packed with gunpowder sits on the lip of a plastic circle in the center of the clay-filled box.
Players score one point for getting closer than their opponents,
three points for lighting the gunpowder on impact, six points for
getting their tejo disc in the circle, and nine points for
doing all of the above (surprisingly, no points are awarded for
retaining your fingers during the entire game).
Many rural pueblos sport tejo fields, and locals are all too
willing to shame you in front of their girlfriends. But don’t think
this is just a man’s sport: muscly Colombian chicas are also happy to trounce you in the art of exploding lawn darts.
To improve your accuracy, copy the locals’ wrist-flick - it gives the
disc a spiral movement like a football and makes you look less amateur.
Put some Shakira hip-action into your throw to distract and amuse; it
might be your only chance. If all else fails, accuse your opponent of
cheating mid-game or throw a rock at his lower back just as he tosses,
to unleash an alcohol-fueled rant and release some tejo-tension.
But mind your digits when you fish your tejo disc from the
clay. Sometimes the gunpowder goes off without warning, and tales abound
of players losing eyes and fingers, yet continuing to play their
beloved game into their 90s.