Pass. Slap! Pass. Slap! Fifteen card players sit around a 20 person master work of craftsmanship solid Chilean Cyprus table, passing cards, one at a time, to the person on their right. It is dark outside of the open air quincho, a Chilean structure built just for social events and barbecues, and all life seems to be concentrated around this one table. Bugs circle the light above, buzzing their way into oblivion as the twanging strains of mandolin passes through the air. We’ve been kayaking most of the day, and after a delicious asado (barbecue) dinner, our stomachs are sated, though we continue to snack on freshly baked bread and stellar Chilean wine. And so we play Spoons- the best card game ever. With my eyes on the cards in front of me, I venture a half-glance up to monitor the status of the other players. Nada happening. Pass. Slap! We try to pick up and discard as fast as possible, always looking for the next card, for the hopeful completion of a matching hand of four. This is cutthroat—a pisco sour and Spoons street-cred are on the line. Along the middle of the table is an array of cutlery. Fourteen silver spoons, to be exact- one less than the number of players.
I have three queens, two red, one black. I get an eight, discard. I get a four, discard. Where is the queen when I need her? I see a movement out of the corner of my eye, a flash of silver. Blindly, I grab for the spoon in front of me- too late, it’s gone! My hand goes to the left, the right, all taken. There, there at the end of the table! I dive, sprawling to reach for the utensil. My hand connects, fingers gripping the skinny handle for all they’re worth. I’m still in the game. Player number 15 has been demoted to much laughter and good-natured joshing. One down, fourteen to go. I want that pisco. The bugs buzz and the mandolin continues as I pour another glass of wine, and collect my cards for the next round (taking care to place my wine in a safe spot lest I be slow on the spoon again). Just another sweet night at Pucon Kayak Hostel.