There are two things that strike a newcomer to Salento in Colombia’s Armenian coffee growing district. The brightly coloured buildings resplendent with their contrasting shaded balconies and shutters give the town an air of fun. The second noticeable thing is the steepness of the streets as Salento was built on hills.
The third thing I noticed were the horse riders. In Salento horses and their riders rule the streets. On the main street a man with a white and cream sombrero and coloured poncho rode past the bars and shops, his horse strutting to a tight trot. It seemed to be the equivalent of showing off a supercar in Knightsbridge- but this was Salento. On street corners men in ponchos talked as the sun went down. It felt laid back, chilled and relaxed as I walked past those vibrant balconies.
But the evening was not yet over. Tejo is one of Colombia’s national sports. It consists of a colourful board with a clay or mud bed. Contestants need to throw pieces of iron at some white stones places on the mud surface. but there’s a catch- the innocuous looking white stones contain explosives. Beer drinking is a mandatory part of the game. Who could resist an invitation to blow up a tejo board?
The stones were set up and I selected a piece of iron. The first throw landed to the side of the board. But the second iron set off a bang and a minor explosion. The room cheered at the gringa who had just scored. The smell of cordite hung in the air as I tried for more. The guys in my group scored nothing- but I got three more bangs out of that tejo game.
With a newly found talent for tejo I left for the hotel, hoping the cordite smell would leave my clothes before the sniffer dogs at the airport got to my suitcase.