Night falls over the Central Park of Campeche and the Cathedral of La Concepción Inmaculada that blesses it.
There aren't even seven, but around its large bandstand, the square displays the yellowish lights of the shift that comes in and gains new life. A youth musical show is being prepared at one of the structure's poles.
We approach the opposite and discover tables and chairs that hadn't been set up during the afternoon, occupied by dozens of women and a few children, pervading the colored surface that covers part of the tops.
Latin-Romantic music arrives through the pillars of the structure that serves as a soundtrack to the strange recreational session that takes place there.
A middle-aged woman with a comfortable posture rotates an old bass drum (tombola) fully lined with brown adhesive tape. As desired, the 90 numbered spheres only come out to the operator's hand through the device's lower hole.
The Campechana Lottery Playful Bingo
Rosa Puga has been in charge for nine years, but instead of “singing” the results, as it is supposed to, she communicates them mechanically and dragged into the microphone: “11 cats … 28 mules … 42 comets … 58 hearts … 25 horses … 52 razors…”.
This tone annoys some of the participants who prefer more spontaneous and fun styles. Certain “singers” even jokes related to symbols tell or associate public characters with them that they take the opportunity to criticize or ridicule in public.
Those who are not aware of the booklet or current affairs in the country either ask the partner for help or lose the sequence and, eventually, the next lottery.
School Look Symbols for Every Taste
To avoid this, at each announcement from the announcer, players inspect their cards in an eager search for each symbol dictated. The designs have different graphics from card to card but are always linked to the same number.
When found, the corresponding rectangles are occupied by glass beads as eye-catching and colorful as the pictograms that illustrate them.
Beans are not played there, but we only detect coins on the tables, very rarely, one or two aged bills of a few pesos.
Each card has 5×5 symbols and usually costs 1 peso (six euro cents). Wealthy ladies play with several at the same time. In that case, it's up to them to pay between 1 to 3 euros every 10 minutes to keep their odds higher.
Taking into account that dozens of players can be at the tables, certain prizes amount to 300 or 400 pesos (15 to 20 euros). Even considering Mexico's lowest standard of living, the amount doesn't make anyone's fortune.
Cantante and Caixa: the Employees who make Bingo Roll
"Lottery!!!!" yells, even so, with vigor, the winner of the last volley (round). It is awarded with a bunch of metal weights brought by Patrícia Zavala, one of the mobile “boxes” of service, just like the lady who “sings”, dressed in traditional Campechan costumes suited to the tropical climate: linen, whites and flowered lace.
Only certain players know about it, but there is a strong historical reason why the hobby works within unambitious financial limits.
Around the XNUMXth century, the colony of New Spain he found himself grappling with an “epidemic” of barajas (letters) imported from Europe.
Gambling was illegal but addicted more and more of his majesty's subjects. It generated bets that, despite the subtlety with which they were placed in the streets, ended up being noticed and seriously concerned the authorities.
It is said that, in response, King Charles III himself had the idea of introducing into the territory a form of lotus that had arrived in Spain from the Italian Peninsula, via France.
The hobby had already been introduced in most of Spanish America. Began to make a splash in Campeche during the patronal celebration of the Cristo Negro de San Román which, even today, incorporates long marathons of the lottery.
In one of the financially quiet moments again volley, Patrícia Zavala tells us other curiosities: “at a certain point, the booklets started to be sold in the tents of groceries (grocery stores) in the city. Some time ago, one of them even offered symbols to stick on the cards.”
With or without this help, the inveterate players have become used to producing their own for which they employ a mixture of superstition and homemade science based on probability based on which figures should not be repeated in a single frame and that the preferred image of the 90 should be placed in the middle.
The more relaxed ladies take up additional space at the tables with their multi-card bets. Aware of this abuse, some choose to print and use reductions of the originals that occupy less than the conventional 15×15 cm.
A Secular Pastime of Old Campeche
Over the years, the country lottery became popular. In such a way that people began to use their pictograms to memorize all kinds of numbers: telephone numbers, codes, among others.
The game never deserved official inspection, however. Recently, there were those who took advantage and tried, without success, to patent the approved set of symbols in order, later, to make a serious profit.
This is something that continues to happen between the various tables installed in the Central Park, which does not prevent the ladies' community to socialize and have fun even if it rains, which in the most drenched days of the region, forces the ladies to bet under big hats Of rain.
is proclaimed a ball to the microphone. The incentive grants three additional pieces to whoever is awarded a symbol in the geometric center of the card. And also sandwiches and juices. Not all present waited for the blessing. Already before, family and friends shared empanadas and Tamales.
Nora Garcia, a distinguished lady, rewarded herself with a glass of rice pudding creamy but doesn't take your eyes off the table, inspecting the best chances of winning with the horizontal, vertical or diagonal combinations of five pieces, with the scissors (arrowheads), or any of several valid forms of crosses.
It has been dark for a long time, but the Central Park is still lively, to the delight of dozens of German tourists around a guide who takes the opportunity to introduce them to the curious recreational phenomenon.
Fascinated by the discovery, visitors in intimidating numbers pull out of their cameras and disturb the smooth play of the game for later recall.
Rosa Puga ignores them and communicates new extraction: “Diezisiete Sillas”. With each rotation of the tombola, the night progresses a little further. But not even the sudden Teutonic invasion motivates those lovers of country lottery to get up from their chairs.