After dark, searching for a late night snack, we were drawn to an empty lot that had been taken over by food trucks. People were everywhere. It was a younger crowd who stood around holding pint glasses or sat crouched at small tables catching up with their friends. We saw an open table in the center of the action and squeezed our way through. Surrounded by Colombians, having loud conversations with their friends and new music that we had never heard before, we were overwhelmed with the unfamiliar. We sipped our drinks, looking around and taking a minute to digest the newness of the situation. Time began to slow. The sights separated from the sounds. A single conversation would become the focus of my attention until a louder sound happened – then my gaze would snap to the new and interesting spectacle.
On the left were three or four food trucks all sizzling with food that looked unfamiliar but smelled delicious. In the middle was a beer tap and a pair of bartenders filling glasses with red, amber, and honey colored beer. But it was what was on the right that caught mine and everyone else’s attention. Teams of friends tossing shells made of lead downrange towards an undried lump of clay. Sometimes they would hit a small origami football towards the center of the target which would cause a loud bang and a bright explosion.
We watched what appeared to be an organized league play the game for over an hour. They had matching jackets and kept score. The losers would cycle out trying to defeat the reigning champion. Our interest was quickly noted by the locals and we were graciously invited to play our very own game. They took us to a setup in the back corner where it was quieter and we had a great view of the other players.
Our hospitable new friends brought us whatever we needed and did their best to explain the game to us despite the language barrier. Our smiles and genuine interest granted us an opportunity to share an experience that was brand new to us all. We played several rounds of Tejo until our hands and pant legs were covered in clay.