On my recent trip to Mexico I was determined to find these cards I had seen before, "You know, the cards with the sun and the moon, and a ladder and there are numbers on them." People looked at me like I was crazy. I suggested that they might be fortune telling cards, then I remembered more correctly that they were lottery cards, but lottery in the sense that there is a randomness to them. When I started asking for "Loteria", then I got somewhere. And I was justly rewarded for my search. At first all I could find were really small sets of lottery cards, or the game called "Loteria Gacela", but I wanted the large cards. One man who didn't have them told me they come in three sizes, but he hadn't seen the large ones. Instead he sold me these similar games:
The first one is "Serpientes y Escaleras" and looks similar to the game "Chutes and Ladders". I loved the multitude of images--birds, wild animals, people at work, there's even one image of someone being spanked--of course this has a snakes head on it, hissing. Oh, and another of a boy drowning with a man diving in to rescue him. The ladder attached to this image leads to a hero's welcome.
Another game is "Juego de la Oca", also featuring animals and birds but this one is more sporting, as the close-up shows. The printing on this one is very unusual, almost as if it's attempting to be 3-D, or is intentionally out of focus. The vendor explained to me that he thought this was perfect, "Perfecto!", he said. So, I bought it.
Alas, this vendor did not have my lottery cards but suggested that I look in the paper stores, where they sell composition books, pens and paper ribbons; or maybe a party store. So my search continued.
On the day before leaving Todos Santos I figured I needed to buy some souvenirs for my family, so out I went again to collect the goods. This time I ventured into the more tourist oriented shops and found a small set of lottery cards. This vendor knew where I might be able to find the cards I wanted and sent me down the street. Jackpot!
The game is similar to Bingo, with the deck cards drawn from the stack and each player looking on his player card to see if he has the matching image. A smaller marker is placed on the image if you have it.
I don't think these games are played frequently anymore as everyone seems to be playing Playstation and Wii. Up the hill from our hotel was a small room with large flat screen televisions of the wall--nothing but World of War being played there, to great camaraderie and noise.