Many things come to mind when one thinks of a trip to Mexico, a warm, colorful, magical place most known perhaps as the place for destination weddings. Flavorful food and a rich cultural heritage, with beautiful, ancient architecture and temples dotting the country all make Mexico such a wonderful place to visit. But if you’re headed there, you may want to break away from the preplanned trips and seek out a game of bingo.
Don’t worry about seeming kitschy. Even though bingo experienced a bit of a fall in the 60s, something strange has happened in the past few years: youngsters are starting to care about bingo. In the US and in Europe, it’s fast becoming one of the hip new games that twenty-somethings play. It’s usually not the typical bingo, but newer pop culture variants like “bad movie bingo”, “TV show bingo”, and “Hipster Bingo.”
A large part of the classic game’s popularity can be traced to the massive marketing push that online bingo companies are penciling in their multimillion-dollar advertising budgets. Thanks to the Internet, bingo is cool again. So cool, in fact, that it doesn’t seem like anyone is immune to the appeal. You’ve probably heard of IKEA moving into the hotel business or Starbucks making a dinner menu. Well, according to Free Bingo Hunter, even Deal or No Deal and supermarket chains have started moving into the bingo industry.
If you’re traveling to Mexico, you could play an authentic version of the game too. Mexico has its own version of the popular game called Loteria, otherwise known outside the country as Mexican Bingo. While its underlying game mechanics are similar to bingo, Lotería is a frankly more visually and intellectually engaging game that requires a deep knowledge of the cultural calls that replace the typical “B-21, B-21” calls in a game of bingo.
Lotería is played using a colorful deck of cards that feature iconic Mexican imagery. The cantor, or caller, randomly selects a card from the deck and announces it by way of a riddle or humorous line associated with the image on the card. Players with the same card on their 4×4-card tabla, or board, get to mark it with a chip (corn kernels or beans are traditional). Whoever forms any of the previously specified winning lines (be it horizontal, diagonal, or vertical) first and shouts “Lotería!”, “Bueno!”, or even a plain “Bingo!” wins. Artist Teresa Villegas, who was the first artist to be asked by the original makers of the popular Don Clemente Gallo version of the game in 100 years, has more info on her site.
Since the cards themselves all feature Mexican iconography, an adventurous traveler can use them to spice up their Mexican tour by looking for as many real-life examples of the iconic Lotería images as they can. It’s a great and fun way to celebrate the country’s culture, history, and majestic beauty.