Down the road from Chicamocha lies San Gil, a small town of roughly 40,000 people. The town is growing due to the fact that it is the adventure sport tourism hotspot in Colombia. In addition to the paragliding that I did a few days ago, other popular activities include white water rafting, rock climbing, caving and hiking.
Ross, Janus and I gave the rafting a try. Unfortunatley there hadn’t been a great amount of rain in some time. Consequently, the water was tame; although Janus still managed to fall out of the raft. Man overboard!
San Gil’s main square, Parque Del Libertad, reminded me of Xela in Guatemala. It illustrates the way of life here perfectly. The square is the social centre of the town. Live music and fruit stools galore. It is domimated by the 18th century church – Catedral Santa Cruz. Many townsfolk enjoy their afternoons reading the local newspaper on one of the many benches that have sufficient amounts of shade as tall trees act as neccessary sunscreens.
Whilst in San Gil, our hostel host invited us to go play a traditional Colombian game called Tejo. “Traditional” i find is sometimes an overused word, but considering the Colombians have been playing this game for 500 years, it’s safe to say that it is well and truly traditional in this case!
Tejo is unusual compared to other “traditional” games that I’ve played in other countries. A simple breakdown is as follows; a stone (like a small discus) is thrown from a set distance between 16 to 18 meters, with the target being an area of clay slanted at 45 degrees that contains small triangles of gunpowder. Yes gunpowder. Fun! It doesn’t take a genuis to figure out that the top score involves exploding one of the explosive triangles (5 points). You also score points if you land your stone in the clay, and if you get a small detonation which doesn’t completely destroy the triangle (both 1 point). In teams or 1 vs 1, it’s first to 27 – so if you are awful, get ready for a long game. Simple enough right?
With a couple of beers, the game is great fun. You’ll have a banger… It’s even more enjoyable when you’re somehow actually quite good at it! God knows how, but I managed to win a free cocktail as a result of top scoring! Definitely my travelling highlight to date…