Tournaments as a gringo
If you have ready any of the previous articles then you know that I am the only foreigner playing tejo in the tournaments they host around Colombia. So, I thought I would share what it is like to be the only gringo in the room.
I have now been playing in tournaments for about 4 months now. I feel like I have become the fan favorite but most people still do not know my name. I am still “the Gringo” or “Gringo con tobacco.” I smoke cigars while I am not playing. Either way, I do not get bothered because a lot of these guys and girls have played together for years and years.
It is a lot of fun when I arrive because it is like going to a family reunion. You walk up at 8am and people are already drinking, warming up, playing cards, and enjoying each others company. It really is a nice environment to belong to. I am always greeted with yells of “Gringo” and people coming to me to ask how I am doing. I am always in a good mood when i arrive.
Once I step onto the court I am a mess inside. I am always nervous and ready to get the first throw out of the way. While everyone knows how I play, I still want to be great and I pile pressure up on myself. Other players try to tell me to relax and even the official (in my last tournament) told me I play with too much tension.
When I am not on the court playing I am either off to the side smoking a cigar, listening to my MP3 player, or taking pictures of other people playing. Often times people come up to me and want to say hi and find out about me. Why I am in Colombia? How did I start playing tejo? Or ask me to take a picture of them. Oddly enough, my Spanish is not that great so I miss out on so much. I still manage to make some friends and now have a place where I am always welcome.
If you ever want to play, contact me. I enjoy sharing the national past time of Colombia with new people.