What does a cool night out in La Paz involve?

25 Jul

What do you get if you combine 5 dice, a cup, a piece of paper to mark the scores and some jugs of alcohol…? A cool night out in La Paz.

I’ve now been in La Paz for over a week and I decided it was time to sample the night life.  So, armed with a recommendation from my Spanish teacher, Maria, I headed to Boca y Sapo a cool little pub just down from the hostel where I am staying.

Now I like to sample the local culture of everywhere I go and this includes the pubs.  But what makes a night out in La Paz different?  Well first of all everyone in the pub was playing a game called “Chaco”.  At first glance this looked a bit like Yahtzee…it seemed to be highly competitive with serious note taking of scores and lots of uumming and ahhing when the dice came out of the cup…

I had just started my local Pacena beer when some nice young bolivians asked me to join their game…now I don’t like to say no when offered a chance to try something new so before I knew it I had changed tables and was part of the game…the game was really quite simple..it involved throwing the five dice and trying to get either a run of numbers or all the numbers the same though a run seemed to involve 1,2,3,4 and then 6 was a separate run (called an “escalera”) – rather odd, and when you threw twice to get a full house it was called “dos huevos” or two eggs (though of course this might be something completely different given my poor Spanish skills!)  If one of the die did not land evenly then this is called a “Palo” and involves everyone in the game having to take a drink of their drink.  The game was highly competitive with much blowing on the cup for luck and with some unusual techniques of throwing the dice which involved a rapid wrist movement three times and then a hard bang of the cup on the table.  The game lasted probably about 2 hours with each throw discussed in detail and much drinking when a Palo was involved…at the end I came second, not bad for my first attempt at Chaco…

Now this was really fun and when my new Bolivian friends suggested another game I was more than up for it…this game was called El Madito and again involved the dice and the cup, without any need for paper but with a need for wine..this game involved each person tipping a bit of their drink into a large cup, then throwing the dice…the first person who throws decides on a number..and then each time that number comes up you take the dice out until you have less and less dice…basically the last person who throws and gets the selected number has to drink the contents of the large cup…mmmm….while I came second in the first game it has to be said that I did not have so much luck in this game in the sense that the contents of the cup seemed to come my way more than they should have….

still it was worth a bit of a sore head the next day to have such a fun night out with some local people who were truly a great laugh and at least the next time I can say “si” to a game of Chaco and “non” to a game of El Maldito!!!

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