I am not an anthropologist. I am a voyeur. A spy. An observer. A photo snapper. And this post is a meta human exercice. My humble human take on a specific human behaviour… Mate in Uruguay.

Kalin, the oldest cat I know…she’s almost 20!

Mate is to Uruguayans what espresso is to Italians and tea to English. Except you don’t see Italians carrying their espressos in the bus or the English sipping tea from the same cup in the beach, now do you?
Uruguayans do this and more. You see them carrying it around like a Priest would his rosary. Like a journalist his pen.
The bus ticket sellers have it. The official at the Townhall. The professor in University.
Uruguayans are the world’s largest mate consumers, with around 7kg of yerba mate a year.

Mate is prepared from the steeping dried leaves of yerba mate and is served in a hollow calabash gourd. One sips the hot infusion with a bombilla -a metal straw with tiny holes that allow the brewed liquid in, but blocks the yerba out.

How to prepare it?

I will admit that I’m not the best of mate makers. I’d much rather drink from my dad’s or even a friend’s. So here you have a short video on how to make this great beverage.

It’s good for you
Mate contains several vitamins and minerals including vitamins A (as beta-carotene), B1, B2, C and E, as well as phosphorus, iron and calcium. It contains significant levels of polyphenol antioxidants, and has a higher antioxidant capacity than green tea!
Plus let’s not forget its stimulant properties… Though it contains less coffein than coffee.

Legend has it…
The Guaraní people have a legend that says that the Goddesses of the Moon and the Cloud came to the Earth one day to visit and were saved by an old Guaraní when a jaguar was about to attack them. In compensation, the Goddesses gave him and his family a new plant, to prepare the “drink of friendship”.

And indeed, although mate can be drunk alone -duh!, it’s usually shared among a cirle of friends, colleagues, family… What appears shocking in other cultures (sipping from the same straw? – yuk!) is super common in Uruguay. If you have a mate, it’s actually pretty rude not to offer it around…

So there you go. If you come to Uruguay, there’s no avoiding mate. (And why should you?!)
Just pleaaase, for Chrissakes, sip until you hear the air doing grrrrrr (sign that there’s no more water left). It’s really annoying when people give the mate back half way their turn.

Catch up later, gonna boil me some water ;)