I am learning the ways of being a local…sort of. Sure, I walk down the street and people can tell (from my clothes perhaps?) that I don’t exactly fit the bill as a Montevidean. But let’s not focus on this for now.
Just yesterday I received a fantastic compliment. During a four hour session of mate drinking with some very sweet new friends, I was asked if I wouldn’t mind serving the next round. This consists of first filling up the mate with yerba (tea like leaves), making a thermal of hot water, and then organizing the session:
1. Pour a mate for yourself, and then drink it at your own pace in the comfort of conversation
2. Pour a second mate and hand it off to the person sitting/standing to your left (clockwise)
3. When they are done drinking their mate, they will return it to you, then you fill the cup again and pass it along clockwise.
This goes on until the mate is drenched and loses its flavor…and when there is no more hot water. After I made my mate, I made the second mate and passed it along. My new friend, the receptor, took a sip, looked at me, and said, “Where did you learn how to make mate?” This was in a tone of approval…and my face wore a huge, proud smile for the next few minutes.