Vete a pescar – Go Fish

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The muchkin learned how to play Go Fish so off we go to search for a deck of cards. In a small pharmacy in La Penita, Mexico we find a deck of Spanish cards—what the young lady calls a Baraja Espagnol.

We explain, in great detail, the game we want to play with the cards and ask if the Spanish deck will work.

“Oh, Go Fish,” she says.

We laugh and ask if she’d lived in the US.

“No,” she says and explains that she plays the game with her English teacher.

I did the same with my French students. Some things are universal, but back to the cards.

We buy the deck, take it home and discover it has what must be four suits, the numbers from one to seven and the picture cards ten to twelve, but no eight or nine. We ask our Mexican friends why and they shrug. This drives us to the Internet.

According to Wikipedia:

The traditional 40-card Spanish baraja is an ancient deck that existed in Spain since between the 14th-16th century. The suits closely resemble those of Italian cards and Latin suited Tarot decks. In fact, the Baraja, like the tarot, are used for both game playing and cartomancy. The Baraja have been widely considered to be part of the occult in many Latin-American countries, yet they continue to be used widely for card games and gambling, especially in Spain.

The four suits are bastos (clubs), oros (literally “golds”, that is, golden coins), copas (cups) and espadas(swords). The suits are thought to represent the four social classes of the Middle Ages. Coins represent the merchants, clubs represent the peasants, cups represent the church and swords represent the military.

The last three cards of each suit have pictures similar to the jack, queen, and king in an Anglo-French deck, and rank identically. They are thesota, which is similar to the jack and generally depicts a page or prince, the caballo (knight, literally “horse”), and the rey (king) respectively.

Armed with our baraja and new knowledge, we try playing Go Fish. The deck has a flaw though as the munchkin manages to win every time.

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