Friday, January 22, 2010

Peruvian "Sapo" Game ('s not called Sappo and it's better than Wii Fit)

Ahhh, if there's one thing I miss about sitting arond in Peru with a beer in my hand, it's the fact that I was always able to play a bit of Sapo. Sapo's this totally awesome game that I suppose isn't necessarily a drinking game...except that I always played it while drinking a beer so I suppose that MAKES it a drinking game (other drinking games of mine include Touch Football, Open Heart Surgery, and Sex).

Sapo is the Spanish word for Frog or Toad (I forget money's on Toad though). The game is called Sapo, because of the little cast bronze (or whatever metal that is) sapo who sits on top of the game board. The object is to throw golden coins at the sapo from about four or five paces away and to get them to go into the sapo's mouth. If the coin doesn't go into the sapo's mouth, you hope that it falls down one of the various holes that surround the sapo, each of which earn you a different point total (is this really my first "Streets of Lima" article about can't be!).

Getting the coin to go into that damn little frog's mouth is HARD. I mean, LOOK at that thing! The coin is almost the same size as the frog's mouth! Even in basketball the hoop is TWICE the size of the ball!

To get the coin into the frogs mouth (which is called getting a "sapo" or "sapito"...did you see that coming?) you have to make a PERFECT throw. Also, the coin has to be flying through the air like a frisbee, because if it's tumbling it's just not going to go in (if you turn the coin vertical, it won't go into the mouth).

Sapo is so frickin' difficult that this game is an exercise in Zen concentration, and unlike video games, when you get done playing Sapo you're actually a calmed and superior person. I bet the Zen master could sit there and just throw sapo after sapo...seriously, if you get even the slightest bit agitated, you start glancing those damn coins off the sapo's lips and that just drives you crazy (sapo, sapo, sapo...I love to say that word).

I'm pretty decent at Sapo, and on two different occasions I've gotten two consecutive Sapos (which impresses everybody who is around you). But I'm a long way from being the Sapo master. I think I'm going to have to have somebody bring me a Sapo set from Peru...just the frog and the coins...and maybe some extra coins since half the time when you're playing Sapo you're just looking around in the grass for the coins that rolled off to god knows where...all the better reason to just throw Sapos and not miss!

Oh, and one more thing, when you actually throw a Sapo, the sound of the coin passing through the frog's throat makes almost a "GULP" sound which is the most satisfying noise you'll ever hear. Seriously, all I have to do is hear the noise and I know somebody's hit a sapo. Awesome game, way better than Wii Fit.

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  1. Hey Ben, to help you memory you mentioned Sapo and how to play it in your blog about Cienequilla and El Colono. You're right, it's an awesome game.

  2. Yeah, I remember posting this picture before, but I didn't post it at full size and besides, Sapo needs to be talked about every now and then!

  3. really happy to read your explanation about The SAPO game.....I am peruvian and I just to love the game so much......Now I live in Montreal,Canada for the past 40 years...and 2 years ago I started importing the game from Lima
    now is getting popular in Quebec....we are selling the game by internet....most of our customers are from the could visit our web site at:
    also you could become a member of our fan club on Facebook at:!/pages/Froggie-La-Grenouille/98573904680

  4. Hi

    My wife's father ( from Peru ) show me this game. Me being from the USA he didn't thing I would be any good at it. 1st time playing got it in the frog mouth.. So this game so cool I like to help sell it. I have my own business were I help business sell There goods. It done by are web site called tripleclicks and we are worldwide. Please tell me were i can find some one willing to sell this cool game. I would love to see you on me site.

    Scott McVey

  5. Hi, awesome page this one! My name is Oscar Freyre, born in Peru but leave now in Sweden. I´m a Sapofan and love to play this game with the Swedes, and they just love it! I wonder if there is anyone here who knows where there is a Sapogame- store in Lima? I´m looking for the webadress, please tell me! :)

  6. I love Sapo! I visited Peru when I was 16. I was with my grandmother and her tour group thing. We stopped at a local bar, and they had 3 sapo games lined up. I played it the whole time we were there will the ladies had a few drinks. I so loved the game, the owner of the bar sold me the brass peices (Sapo, metal spinner (he called it the dragon fly) and 12 coins) for a wonderful price of 10 Sol! :D I came home and made it instantly. Though the game in the pub was set up differently than the games I see when I look online (fewer holes, holes in the sides and on a high backing) so that's how I made mine. Any ways, had it for 10 years now, and brought it with me to a local Ren faire, seems to be a hit, though no one knows what I'm talking about when I first ask them if they feel like playing "Sapo"