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Reflections of Mate

Jan 16, 2012

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Mate isn’t a drink… Okay, fine. It’s a liquid that you put in your mouth.
But it’s not a drink. In this country [Argentina] nobody drinks mate when they’re thirsty.
It’s more of a habit, like itching.

Mate is the exact opposite of television: it makes you want to speak with someone, and makes you think when you’re alone.

When someone comes to your house, the first thing said is “hey” and the second, “want to drink mate?” That happens in all homes.
In those of the rich and those of the poor.
It happens between chatty and gossipy women as well as serious and immature men.
It happens between the old and the young, while studying or high.

It’s the only thing that’s shared between parents and children without arguing or blaming each other for something.

Democrats and Republicans pour mate without question. In summer and winter.

It’s the only similar thing between victims and predators. The good and the bad.

When you have a child, you give him mate when he starts walking. Just add a little sugar to the warm water and they’ll feel grown. You’ll feel very proud when your little boy starts drinking mate.
It opens up the heart.

After the years pass, they’ll choose to drink mate bitter, with sugar, very hot, cold, with orange peels, with herbs, or with some lemon.

When you meet someone for the first time, you drink mate.
If you aren’t sure how they take it, you may ask : “sweet or bitter?”
And they’ll respond: “However you drink it.”

The computer keyboards in Argentina are full of mate.
Mate is the only thing that all houses have at all times. Always.
With inflation; when there’s no food; when there’s military rule; with democracy; with whatever sickness or hard problems we’re facing.
And if one day there’s no mate, you just ask your neighbor for some.

Mate doesn’t refuse anyone.

This is the only country in the world where the decision to stop being a child and start being a man occurs on one particular day. Not when you start wearing large pants, get circumcised, go to college, or live away from your parents.

Here, we become adults the day we begin drinking mate for the first time alone.
It’s not by chance.
It’s not just “whatever”.

The day that a child put the kettle on the stove and drinks mate for the first time with no one home, in that moment, he discovers his soul. The simple mate is nothing more or nothing less than a demonstration of values.

In solidarity we’ll put up with mate when it becomes watery, because the conversation is so good.
In respect for the time to talk and listen — you talk while the other drinks, and vice versa.
And in all sincerity finally say: “Enough! Change the yerba!”

Now the time for friendship is over.
It’s the sensitivity of the boiling water.
It’s friendly to ask, stupidly, “The water’s hot, right?”
It’s in modesty one pours a great mate.
It’s the generosity of giving in the end.
It’s the hospitality of the invitation.
It’s the righteousness shared between each other.
It’s the obligation of saying “thank you” at least once a day.
It’s the ethical, honest, and loyal unpretentiousness found in sharing.
You feel included.

Now you know, a mate is not just a mate….

By,
Lalo Mir
Argentina

Translated by,
David Askaripour
© 2012 Circle of Drink

 

Learn all about the past 500 years of yerba mate history >>

2 comments


  1. Jim

    I have read many different translations of this essay. This one is by far the best interpretation I have read. Saluds!

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