entertainment

11 Unusual Sports You Can Find In Latin America

Sports, just like music or cuisine, define groups of people and their culture. While the appeal of certain sports stretch to the farthest parts of the world, there are some that are unique to one area. Today we focus on the sports that may seem unusual to all but those living in Latin American countries.

Tejo

Credit: Instagram @velo.sri

Tejo is a sport that originated in Colombia and is still one of the most popular in the country today. Some have compared it to a loud, raucous version of bowling. While the origins of the game are unclear, what is certain is that the game continues to be a popular pub sport, played among friends, similar to the way a game of darts may be enjoyed in Europe.

credit: Instagram @lashes.staches

Just how is tejo played? The tejo is, in fact, a steel disk. The participants throw the disk towards a metal ring, known as a bocin, that is rigged with explosives. Upon impact the explosives go off with a thundering noise. The objective of the game is to hit certain points inside the metal ring and to earn points.

Jai-alai

credit: Instagram @biarritzhilton

Jai-alai is a sport that most likely originated in the 19th Century, but enjoyed tremendous popularity in the 20th Century. At one time, Jai-alai was firmly rooted in the popular culture of Miami.  The game is played by either eight teams of two players each or eight single players.

credit: Instagram @galarretajaialai

Some have called Jai-alai the world’s fastest sport. The players have to hit the pilota (the ball) with the xistera, an object that looks like a scooped tennis racket, against the surface of the walls. A team earns a point when the opposition is unable to catch the ball, and it lands outside of the playing surface. At one point the game’s popularity could attract audiences of well over 10.000 people. While some of its fame has faded, Jai-alai leagues continue to exist and the sport’s fateful work to increase its profile. 

Basque Pelota

credit: Instagram @paolo_venturii

In many ways Basque Pelota is the grandfather sport of the Jai-Alai. However, there are elements that make it distinctly different. Traditionally, a game of pelota is played only between two opposing teams. It’s a very versatile game, that unlike Jai-Alai can be played without special rackets. 

credit: Instagram @nivesf1

The players battle by hitting the pilota or pelota vasca (Spanish) against a wall and attempting to score points by making the ball land outside of the playing area. The game, with its different versions, is very popular in countries such as Spain, Uruguay or Argentina. While official leagues do exist, the game is often played unofficially, in the neighborhoods of Latin countries, in the same way that soccer is played by kids all over the world.

Haka Pei

credit: Instagram @chiletravel

Haka Pei is a sport still practiced in Chile, firmly rooted in tradition, which at one point is believed to have served as training for young warriors. The sport, which may look dangerous to newcomer spectators, involves the participant sliding down a hill at top speed, riding a banana-tree trunk. 

credit: Instagram @tiquitacachile

While the rider is doing his best to steer the difficult terrain, the sounds of drums and chanting can be heard from the onlookers attempting to encourage the participants.  Haka Pei is a rite of passage for many, serving an important role in the community. 

Capoeira

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Capoeira is a sport that has earned fame across the world through its depiction in movies and mainstream media. The sport is a mixture of dance moves and martial arts. 

credit: Instagram @capoeira_angola_fica_coreia

Legend has it that the capoeira originated as a consequence of the fact that the African slaves arriving in Brazil were banned from practicing their fighting techniques. They were forced to disguise it, so that it would resemble a dance. Two participate in Capoeira, executing their moves, while, traditionally, music is played from  the sidelines.

Read: 12 Reasons The Brazil Carnival Should Be On Your Bucket List

Rana

credit: Instagram @lamazorcaint

The frog game or rana is a beloved game in countries such as Spain and Colombia. The game is played by tossing a metal ring through the holes of a wooden box. The box resembles an old arcade machine. Each of the holes represents a different number of points. The further participants move away from the box, the harder it is to hit the target.

Read: 20 Facts To Know About Colombia Before You Make That Big Trip

credit: Instagram @ralphandco.antiques

The sport is also known as toad in a hole, with the box usually featuring tiny frog statues standing with their mouths open, awaiting the toss. Numerous versions of the game exist across Latin America, and it remains a popular pub game. 

Peteca

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Peteca is game that is believed to have been created by the indigenous people of Brazil before the arrival of the Portuguese. It is played using a rubber base decorated with feathers. It closely resembles badminton, however it is not played using a racket.

Read: 10 Folk Religions You Didn’t Know Existed In Latin America And The Caribbean

credit: Instagram @cefrai

Peteca (which means swing) became especially popular through the promotion offered by Brazilian athletes enjoying the game in their spare time. Peteca is now played in countries such Brazil and Japan, where even federations have been set up.

Pato

credit: Instagram @giacospa

Pato or Jugeo del pato is one of the most popular sports in Argentina. It is played on horseback, not dissimilar to polo. The two participating teams consist of four members. The object of the game is to score by throwing the ball (the pato) through a ring. The player that is controlling the ball must ride with his arm stretched out so as to give the opposition players the opportunity of gaining back possession of the ball.

Read: Facts You Should Know About These 13 Legendary Soccer Players from Latin America

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The game is believed to have originated in the 17th Century. One legend has it that the name derives from the fact that players would use a basket that held a duck (translated as pato) instead of a ball. 

Frescobol

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Frescobol is a sport that was created on the South American beaches and has enjoyed a good deal of popularity, especially, in Brazil. The game resembles tennis, being played with a large wooden racket. 

credit: Instagram @kemoch1ute

While there are similarities to tennis, there are no boundaries to the court and there is no net. A player earns a point when their opposition is unable to deliver the ball back to them. Frescobol can still be seen on the beaches of Brazil, a country that enjoys the game so much it even started organizing tournaments as far back as 1994.

Button Football

credit: Instagram @brmuniz84

Button Football is a table top game that, while somewhat known in Europe and Asia, is especially popular in Brazil, a country that has a Federation set up to govern the sport. The way in which is played is supposed to mimic the way that two football teams are set up. 

credit: Instagram @rolitaylor

Each teams gets 11 buttons (players), with the goaltender usually represented by a larger piece. The buttons are maneuvered on the flat surface so as to hit a small ball towards the goal of the opposing team. The team that scores the most goals, wins.

Bossaball 

credit: Instagram @cafamoficial

A modern game that originated in Spain, bossaball is a combination of football, volleyball and gymnastics. The game is played on an inflatable trampoline, with two teams being separated by a net. Much like volleyball, the participants win points by hitting the ball towards the other side’s half. The game, inspired by Brazilian culture, is usually accompanied by bossanova music (hence the name).

credit: Instagram @vitoriopopini

Sports are part of our culture and heritage. Culture defines as as people.Sports represent a peaceful way in which people are able to gather, compete against each other and offer support to one another. 

21 Things You Didn't Know About El Chapo

Entertainment

21 Things You Didn’t Know About El Chapo

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has been part of the popular imagination in Mexico and all over the world for decades. The supposed leader of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel has become a celebrity due to his extravagant prison brakes, the network of tunnels he allegedly built to smuggle drugs to the United States.

El Chapo is currently undergoing a highly publicized trial in Brooklyn, as he was extradited to the United States. With this trial, as well as the release of the highly anticipated Netflix show Narcos: Mexico, where his character is expected to make a cameo, El Chapo is as relevant as ever. Here are some facts and possible facts about this elusive and mythical figure.

1. First things first, Chapo means “Shorty”

Credit: El Chapo. Netflix/Univision.

Wonder where the famous moniker came from? Guzmán stands 5 ‘6″ tall. El Chapo is quite short, so his nickname is basically Sinaloa slang for “shorty”. El Chapo is a small but commanding figure, sort of a Napoleon of the criminal underbelly.

2. He is considered by some to be a modern Robin Hood

Credit: Drug Lords: El Chapo. Netflix.

El Chapo has always been vocal about his humble origin and his despise of government corruption. He has built roads and schools in his native state of Sinaloa, which is why some consider him a working-class hero.

3. According to some sources, he began selling marihuana as a minor

Credit: Giphy. @homeofhiphop

He lived in a rural area and by 15 he was supporting his family by selling oranges, cheese and, some claim, pot. Very early on he started understanding the mechanisms of illegal narcotic trade. A self-made dealer who became one of the richest people in the planet.

4. You can buy El Chapo piñatas in Mexico

Credit: pinata. Digital image. New York Post.

Yes, you read that right. El Chapo has become a mythical figure in his home country, and popular culture manifestations like piñatas often depict political figures. After his second escape from a maximum security prison numerous piñata makers made a killing. When he was finally captured for good the piñatas were quickly updated.

5. He had a girlfriend while in prison

Credit: zulemahernandez. Digital image. Proceso.

When he was first in prison before escaping in 2001, Chapo had a girlfriend. Her name was Zulema and she was a former police officer. She was murdered upon her release from jail, possibly because of her relationship with the kingpin.

6. Chapo masks are now common for Halloween and Día de Muertos

Credit: 9d8c1960e867aa18ebf8d1237a2ea7ce57f09597. Digital image. Digital Journal.

Just like some scare kids wearing Trump masks on Halloween, Mexicans wear masks of hated politicians and other public figures. El Chapo masks are a common feature at Halloween parties and other events.

7. He once lined the road leading to his house with human bodies

Credit: Apocalypse Now. Zoetrope Studios.

According to the documentary TV show Drug Lords: El Chapo (Netflix), El Chapo liked to make quite a statement when anyone visited his property. He lined up cadavers in his driveway just to show who is boss. Sounds very Apocalypse Now to us to be honest.

8. His current wife is an Instagram celebrity

Credit: Instagram. @emmacoronela

Emma Coronel is a famous Instagramer and former beauty queen. She often posts snapshots of her daily life, messages to her imprisoned husband and even photos of her twin daughter’s lavish Barbie-themed party.

9. He expanded his cartel globally

Credit: Giphy. @netflixlat

The Sinaloa Cartel has been described as the biggest and most complex criminal organization in the planet. Part of El Chapo’s success is due to directly enter faraway markets like Australia without paying intermediaries.

10. He allegedly loves golden and diamond-incrusted guns

Credit: Pinterest. @chicana602

Guns that are custom made by skilled jewelers are a common sight in narco culture. El Chapo is said to have ordered a gun to mark his mention in the Forbes richest people in the planet list.

11. He has been married 3 times and has 9 kids

Credit: african_narco_news__cocaine_joaquín_guzmánLoera_2. Digital image. African Narco News.

He has a big heart, at least according to his turbulent love life. He has 9 kids. He first married in 1977 with Alejandrina María Salazar Hernández, and had César, Iván Archivaldo and  Jesús Alfredo. With his second wife he had Joaquín, Edgar, Ovidio and Griselda Guadalupe.  With his current wife, Emma Coronel, he has twins María Joaquina and Emali Guadalupe.

12. He bought all the red roses available in Culiacán for his son’s funeral

Credit: Giphy. @hackmylife

May 10 is Mother’s Day in Mexico and sons and daughters rush to flower shops to buy a bouquet for su jefecita. 2008 was different though, as the funeral for El Chapo’s son Edgar Guzmán was being held and his father bought all the roses available in the city. Lupillo Rivera wrote a song about the funeral:  “50 mil rosas rojas”.

13. He plans to sue Netflix and Univision over El Chapo TV show

Credit: El Chapo. Netflix/Univision.

Upon the release of the popular Univision/Netflix show, his lawyer claimed during a radio interview that: “Things are happening (in the series) that do not correspond to reality, despite the fact that there is no conviction confirming those events. That represents a grave violation of (Guzman’s) right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty”. For him, the TV show defames El Chapo and sends the wrong message prior to his trial.

14. He lined the US/Mexico border with underground tunnels

Credit: Drug Lords: El Chapo. Netflix.

Besides having escaped prison through a complex tunnel, El Chapo hired expert engineers to move his product across the border through a network of tunnels across the border. He escaped the authorities for years.

15. Forbes considered him the 63rd most powerful person in the world

Credit: Giphy. @netflixlat

Chapo’s power was not only due to his immense wealth, but also to the international reach of his operations and the alleged influence he had on local and international politics.

16. He is an internet celebrity in his own right

Credit: Heavy. Anonymous meme.

His last escape became fodder for meme creativity. The collective mind power of the web came together to create some pretty cool viral content.

17. He used multiple false names to escape the authorities

Credit: memes-fuga-chapo-guzman-004. Digital image. NYC Cafe.

Ge got quite creative. Joel Sánchez, Jorge Ramos Pérez or Sánchez, Raúl Guzmán Ruiz and Francisco Villaseñor were just some of them.

18. He is a religious man

Credit: unnamed. Digital file. El Camion.

According to a bishop, El Chapo is a believer. He professes his love to the Virgin of Guadalupe, like most Mexican Catholics, and to Malverde, an unofficial patron saint of drug traffickers. He has built multiple churches in his home state.

19. He built a fancy mausoleum for himself

Credit: mausoleo-arturo-guzman-pollo. Digital image. Union Jalisco.

Like many drug dealers in Sinaloa, El Chapo has prepared his last resting place. It is a huge mausoleum with air conditioning, TVs, beds and all the facilities so his loved ones can pay their respects when he passes away. Pictured: the 1.2 million dollar mausoleum where El Chapo’s brother Arturo was buried.

20. He was extradited just as Trump had his inauguration

Credit: el-chapo-02-as-gty-180615_hpMain_16x9_1600. Digital image. ABC News.

El Chapo made numerous social media threats to candidate Donald Trump, particularly after his controversial speeches attacking Mexican migrants. In what was seen as an inauguration gift from the Mexican government, Guzmán was handed over to US authorities a day before Trump came into power.

21. According to his lawyer, he paid off two Mexican presidents

Credit: Drug Lords: El Chapo. Netflix.

El Chapo’s trial in a US court has produced a couple of bombshell declarations. The biggest one is an accusation of corruption to presidents Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto, who have publicly denounced the cartels. According to these accounts, their campaigns were partly financed by the drug lord.

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