Culture

 The Eleven Most Popular Board Games in Latin America

Board games are a great way for children and adults to develop social skills, improve family relationships and reduce screen time–a need felt by many in our ever more technologically dependent lives.  Health benefits include increased memory skills, reaction time, cognitive ability and reduced stress.

Mancala is one of the oldest known board games and was believed to be played by the Pharaohs of Egypt according to archaeologists.  The “board” was the ground and the game involved capturing as many stones or seeds from your opponent in one of two rows of holes dug into the ground.  Every player began with 24 stones or seeds.  Whichever player ended up with the most seeds in his or her hole won the game.

From ancient to modern, Latin America has a variety of board game traditions that span both history and culture. While many games in Latin America share many traits with popular international games such as chess and parcheesi, various cultures in Latin America have adapted these games to their own cultures while inventing new games as well.  Here are eleven of the top original board games in Latin America to get you started.

1.  La Lotería (Mexico)

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Considered the Quintessential board game of Mexico, La Lotería actually arrived in Mexico via Spain. In La Lotería, the announcer provides an improvised short poem or phrase alluding to images on the cards.  Each player will then use a chip, or a kernel of corn, to mark the correct spot on their board or tabla.  The first player to fill out their game board in a predetermined pattern can call out either “bingo” or “lotería” to win. 

2. Parqués (Colombia)

Parques 6 Theme Colombia. worthpoint.com.

Also known as “Parchis” in Spain and “Parcheesi” in the United States, this popular international board game from the cross and circle family originated in India and is known as “Pachisi” there.  It is played with two dice and can have up to eight players. Each player has four pieces and is assigned a color.  The pieces start out in a “jail” box and can only be freed by rolling a pair.  The pieces must move across nine boxes on the board before exiting the board successfully.

3. Brazilian Checkers (Brazil)

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Played on a smaller board and with fewer checkers than other international versions of the game, Brazilian checkers are very popular amongst older adults in Brazil.  The squares are 8X8 rather than 10X10 but, otherwise, the rules are generally the same. 

4. Kay (Haiti)

KAY (Mancala awale game). Kisqueyanaturebijoux.com. 2018

From the Mancala family, Kay is Haiti’s rendition of the age-old international classic.  Haitian slaves derived their version from “Awele,” a game played in Africa, the Caribbean, and parts of Asia. An awale board is a piece of varnished wood with two rows of six carved round pits called “houses.”  The game involves two players with a set number of seeds or stones and the object is for one of the players to end up with the most seeds after following a set of rules and turn-taking, a description of which can be found here.

5. El Estanciero (Argentina)

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Sometimes compared to the US game of “Monopoly,” El Estanciero is similar except with themes of cattle management and managing a farm successfully.  According to Board Game Geek, the game also has a “rest space” that allows you to take refuge from high farming and ranching fees of your opponents.

6. Sapo (Peru)

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Sapo, also known as “choke the frog,” is a very ancient Peruvian game and is still very popular.  It does have a board.  However, it is a much larger three dimensional board and is best played outside. This is a “coin-toss” game. At the center of the board is a frog with an open mouth surrounded by carved out holes.  Two players must stand 4-5 paces back from the board and are given 10 Sapo coins at a time to toss.  Surrounding holes closest to the frog do have points and, when all coins have been tossed, the player with the highest score wins.

7. El Gocho (Venezuela)

El Gocho HD for IPAD. AppDecide.com. 2013

In the Peg solitaire family, El Gocho involves a triangular board with fifteen holes and fourteen pegs.  A player must remove the pegs by jumping over the adjacent peg.  However, unlike other peg solitaire games, the player must follow the lines of the board. This makes the game more challenging.  In the end, the object of the game is to end up with a single peg.

8. Fines (Guatemala)

Guatemalan Kids Playing Marbles. blog.seansheridan.com. 02/2011

In the marbles game family, the “board” is drawn on the ground and the object is to knock the opponent’s marbles off of the playing area.  Players are then able to keep the marbles of their opponents.  To determine who is the first player, players draw a line on the floor called a “mica” and players throw a marble from six paces away from the line.  Whoever gets their marble closest to the “mica” gets to be the first player.

9. Ludi (Jamaica)

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This game involves 2-4 players, a game board, four markers per player and a set of two dice.  Ludo is similar to many other games in that each player’s objective is to get all four of their pieces to home before the other players by following a set of rules.   It is also derived from the “Pachisi” family.  However, Jamaicans have given the board their own personality with colors and designs unique to Jamaican culture and have also customized the rules and traditions.

10. Adugo (Brazil–also Komikan in Chile)

Komikan. Boardgamegeek.com

This game is a two-player abstract strategy game that comes from the Bororo Tribe in the Pantanal region of Brazil. It was originally thought to have been brought over by the Spanish centuries ago because of the game board itself, an alquerque based board common in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.  The black (or red) piece on the board is the jaguar and the other fourteen pieces are white.  They are the dogs.  The dogs try to surround the jaguar in order to block its movements and the Jaguar attempts to capture at least five of the dogs to reach a stalemate, a win for the jaguar.

11. Thunka (Bolivia)

La Thunka. auroratutora.blogspot.com. 03/2012

Another game in which the “board” is the ground, this game involves drawing seven squares on the ground with chalk, one for each day of the week.  Part of the “hopscotch” family of games, each player tosses a stone or other object into the “Lunes” square and hops into it on one foot.  The same is done for the other seven squares until “Domingo” is reached and then the stone is kicked out. Players are disqualified by not hopping into the square where their stone landed and can only land on one foot.  In non-Andean Bolivia, it is also called “Rayuela” and there are different versions for boys and girls.  Additionally, the number of squares, names, and objects may vary.

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These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

Things That Matter

These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

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2020 will easily go down in manny of our memories as the year that just wouldn’t stop. As the year started, it all seemed to be sort of fine as the world came together to battle record-breaking Australian bushfires and worked to hopefully contain an outbreak of a strange new virus in China.

However, as the year comes to a close things have gone de mal a peor for the world in general, but for the Latino population in the United States and Latin America as a region in particular. Though it’s hard to realize just how much we all witnessed and experienced since so much of what happened seems like it was a lifetime ago.

Here’s a look back at some the defining moments from 2020 across Latin America.

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira kicked off the year hopeful with a history-making performance at the Super Bowl.

Yes, believe it or not, this happened in 2020. The pair put on what many have called the best half time show in Super Bowl history. They were also joined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales was forced into exile, only to return to the country in November.

After being forced into exile at the end of 2019 for attempting to illegally run in upcoming presidential elections, Morales spent a year abroad – first in Mexico and then in Argentina.

Mexico’s President AMLO made his first trip abroad to visit Donald Trump at the White House.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is a staunch populist and has long said his primary focus is domestic policy within Mexico. Therefore, despite two years in office, AMLO hadn’t left Mexico once. So it came as a surprise when his first trip abroad was a visit to the U.S. leader who had long disparaged Mexico, the government, and Mexicans – not to mention his trip came in the middle of a global pandemic.

Migrant caravans continued to make their way towards the U.S. despite interference from Mexico and Covid-19.

Migrants attempting to make their way to the U.S. isn’t unique to 2020. For decades, migrants have long banded together for safety in numbers along the treacherous journey to the north. However, they became larger and better organized in 2020, perhaps owing to the new dangers of Mexican interference.

Mexico’s AMLO vowed to stop migrants from reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, adhering to Trump’s request. It was also noteworthy because the caravans continued despite the Covid-19 crisis, which has hit the region particularly hard.

Peru saw three presidents in the span of a few weeks after massive protests.

Peru is facing one of the greatest crises the nation has faced. Just as the country seemed to be emerging from the worst of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has entered a severe political crisis.

The country’s elected president, Martin Vizcarra, was impeached and removed from office. His predecessor responded with a heavy hand to the protests that ensued resulting in his resignation less than 24 hours later. The government then had to find someone willing to take the job which proved to be a tough sell.

In fact, massive protests swept across Latin America.

From Mexico in the north to Cuba in the Caribbean and Chile in the south, protests were seen all across the region. Although each movement had it’s own stated goal and objectives, many were largely borne out of the same purpose: to fight back against corruption.

Brazil’s President Jaír Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 but it did nothing to change his approach to the pandemic.

Jaír Bolsonaro has long been compared to Donald Trump, with many calling him the Donald Trump of South America. The two were also strongly aligned in their responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, with the pair largely downplaying the severity of the crisis.

Then, Bolsonaro became infected with the virus and many hoped it would change his view on the crisis. It didn’t.

A growing feminist movement developed in Mexico, demanding protection from a shocking rise in violence against women.

Mexico has long been battling endemic violence and the country has continued to see record-setting rates of homicides. But it was the growing rate of violence against women, particularly femicide, that gained national attention.

Women banded together and started large nationwide protests. Over the summer, women in the capital of Mexico City occupied government buildings and destroyed many of the city’s most popular monuments to hopefully get their message across. Although the movement has gained more recognition by Mexicans, the government has still failed to address their concerns. Let’s hope things are different in 2021.

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In A Post-Covid World, Here Is Where You All Said Want To Travel

Culture

In A Post-Covid World, Here Is Where You All Said Want To Travel

©Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

Covid put a stop to our travel plans for 2020. After almost a year in lockdown, we have had time to plan fantasy trips and explore the world. We asked you where you wanted to visit and here are some of the places you all can’t wait to see.

Argentina

Argentina offers something for everyone. As on of the southernmost countries in the world, Argentina offers natural sights that will make nature lovers swoon. Into architecture? Cities like Mendoza offers a look at the art-deco style that will make you feel like you are back in time. Don’t forget to try to make a trip down to Ushuaia, the End of the World for a spectacular view.

Cuba

Cuba is a tricky one but a beautiful place to see. The country is filled with old buildings and cars that make it feel like a time capsule. Now, the island is old because they are oppressed and don’t have much. But you can always find ways to make sure that you help people of the island instead of giving the money to government approved businesses.

Costa Rica

This is about as wild and wondrous as it gets. Costa Rica will give everyone a chance to really be one with nature. The Central American country is a rainforest oasis with nature everywhere you look. The country prides itself on how development is not encroaching on nature and has even outlawed zoos and aquariums.

Honduras

Honduras is an underestimated place to visit. The food and people are warm and inviting. There has been some unrest in the country in recent years and a series of hurricanes has devastated the population. Tourism is a great way to bring money into a place the needs it. Just don’t take advantage of them while you are there.

Mexico

Mexico is a country filled with wonders new and old. You can experience the ruins of some of the oldest civilizations and bask in the modernity of Mexico City. The food is as diverse and vibrant as the people with delicious moles in Oaxaca and experimental fusions in Mexico City. Valle de Guadalupe is home to some farm to table restaurants and exquisite wineries. It truly is a journey of the sense if you take time to see the country.

Colombia

Colombia is one of South America’s gems. After years of internal conflict, the nation is growing and quickly becoming a destination. Bogotá and Medellín are great but make it a point to visit Cali. The city is one of the place everyone should visit if they make their way to Colombia.

READ: Mexico Announces 11 New Pueblos Mágicos And It’s The Post-COVID Travel Lust We All Need Right Now

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