Preparing a delicious gourd of mate for an adventure

Two Years of Drinking Yerba Mate Throughout Latin America

Version en Español

A life of adventure

Hello materos. We are Paula (27) and Martín (28), two young people from Mendoza, Argentina, who decided to leave our life in the city to go out and fulfill our dream of touring Latin America. It’s already been two long years since we started, during which we have lived many experiences, from seeing the Rolling Stones in Cuba to swimming with turtles and dolphins off Mexican beaches.

Our road began in Mexico, where we arrived on a flight that left from Mendoza which, after several airports and stops, landed in Cancun. What to say about this great country, a country with an immense cultural diversity, from ancestral cultures of many years ago (Olmecs, Toltecs, Aztecs) to present-day Mexico, where the identity of all people who once inhabited Mexican soils (through their meals, songs, dances, drinks, textiles, sculptures, and, of course, their people). With natural wonders from north to south and from east to west. We passed the east where we met the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean, its islands and the crystal clear water of its cenotes; following the Mayan cities to the south, we found a medium high forest full of beautiful rivers and indigenous resistance. Following that force of struggle, we went to the mountains of the west facing the great waves of the Pacific, with beaches, magic sunsets and seas full of diversity. From there, we headed towards the center of the country, passing beautiful colonial towns, to eventually reach the great city, a city that does not rest, with much art to share. On the way up north, we passed through the thick jungle of Huasteca to the Huichol desert, where we finished our journey, during which we met many people with big hearts.  

Preparing a delicious gourd of mate for an adventure
Preparing a delicious gourd of mate for an adventure

Villages full of stories and color

After completing our journey in Mexico, we were lucky to be able to visit Cuba, with its mesmerizing beaches and villages full of stories to tell its visitors. In its streets, in every park, museum or bus station, one finds the joy of Cuba. We even enjoyed a historic event, the closing of the free Rolling Stones tour in Havana.

Continuing through Guatemala, where we met the living culture of its Mayan villages, its lakes, like Atitlan, volcanoes and mountains full of dense vegetation, we were sheltered with the country’s delicious flavors. Experiencing villages that tell stories from their fabrics and embroidery and markets where thousands of flavors and colors combine was a beautiful opportunity. In the faces of the Guatemalan people you can see the long years of conflict that mark the country.

Yerba mate on the beach
Yerba mate on the beach

Art, friendship and open arms of Central America

The trip continued through Honduras where a ferry took us up from the beaches of La Ceiba to the paradisiacal island of Roatán, where we stayed for more than a month enjoying its beautiful beaches of crystal clear waters and the great biodiversity of the coral reefs. Even today, the unique Garifuna culture is present, which has a lot of music and dance to share with the sound of its drums all over the Caribbean coast. From there, we headed towards the center of the country to travel the valley of the Lencas, full of crops in the Honduran mountains, which protect many rivers.

We entered Nicaragua by crossing the mountains of the Miskito village, through lagoons and huge beaches of imposing waves. We visited the island of Ometepe, seen from the sky in the form of the infinity sign, with two volcanos; one of fire and another with a lagoon of water in its crater. As we continued our journey, we left behind generous and hospitable people, whom directed us to their sister country, Costa Rica.

We were welcomed with much art, friendship and open arms with which we enjoyed the rich gastronomy and cocktails, the abundance of flora and fauna and the white sand beaches of the Costa Rica Caribbean coast. Relentlessly drawn to beauty and adventure, we enjoyed natural attractions in the Cahuita National Park and on the Osa Peninsula, which bordered our next destination: Panama. Once we arrived, we were received with cold mountains and rivers of clear waters. During our initial days, we were sheltered by the volcano named Barú, and after we left we went to Bocas del Toro, which is a set of islands full of starfish, manta rays, crystal clear water and the Ngäbe-Buglé people. Through the forests of Anton, thus crossing the Bridge of The Americas, we arrived in the noisy and chaotic metropolis of Panama City, from where thousands of goods enter and leave daily through its canal to the entire world. From Panama City, we flew to our next destination: Medellín, Colombia.

As soon as we arrived in Medellín, we began to feel the affection of the southern part of the continent. Not only because of the pleasant weather, but also for the warmth of its people. After crossing its mountains, we went to the Caribbean coast, which is from where we write these notes a few kilometers from Tayrona National Park.

Hanging out on a beautiful day with mate
Hanging out on a beautiful day with mate

Without Yerba Mate, our travels wouldn’t be possible

People will ask how we can sustain our way of life. It all began seven years ago with two students of Industrial Design, Paula and Sofia. Both of them, two fanatics and lovers of Yerba Mate, began a project of making handmade mates (drinking vessels) to raise money for traveling. This project was called A Rodar Diseño, which grew little by little in the city of Mendoza by designing the mates with recycled materials, like lamps, furniture, puts, paintings, interior decorations and more. I (Martín) joined A Rodar a few years later and together with Paula, we made the decision to start traveling. So, it was this project that allowed us to travel to different places, generating awareness through art, either in the workshops we give or by the design of our products, which are recycled, reused and nature-friendly. This is because we believe that it’s our responsibility to take care of the planet we live on, understanding that each of us need to make necessary changes in order to make it a better place.

None of this wonderful adventure would have been the same without the great companion of mate. The drink was taken by the indigenous Guaraní many years ago, and today some culture, like Argentina and Uruguay, keep it alive along with rules, types of herbs, methods of preparing it it and times to drink it all while evolving it with the passing of years. Today, mate is more open to the whole world, although in many places it’s referred to as a tea. No matter where we are, it is a fundamental part of our day to day. And what’s most surprising is that it always appears for us, either by gifts, exchanges with travelers, health food stores or large markets.

A few of our handmade, sustainable products
A few of our handmade, sustainable products

Why our backpacks will always have Yerba Mate

Something fundamental in drinking mate is hot water, which we heat wherever and however we can. If there is no kitchen we use a campfire. Mate accompanies us at the beginning of our days, along with breakfast, and during long workshops when we’re designing different products; it gives us energy and concentration to work, while also being present during moments of relaxation on the beach and during walks by the mountains, rivers and lakes. In short, it accompanies us in almost all of the activities we do. Not just because of its pleasant taste, but because it generates pleasant moments with people from all over, since mate is always better when shared. From traveling, we’ve met some people who believe it’s a drug or hallucinogen, and others who like it so much they decide to buy their own mate kit. It’s because of all of this that our yerba, bombilla, thermos and gourd (made by us) can never be missing from our backpacks. We like to take the time to prepare it as you should, by slowing moistening the herb with lukewarm water, then 75°C (167°F) water before finally inserting the bombilla by covering its mouth in order to prevent clogging. Then, enjoy.

At the end of our trip (our next destinations are Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia), we dream to build ourselves a self-sustaining home where we can grow our own yerba mate.

This article was written with the company of rich mates.

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