Special guests from Uruguay landed up with us due to a double booking at another guest house. A tense start soon warmed into lasting smiles as we exchanged knowledge on each other’s countries and on the excitement of travel. We learnt about their local beverage called ‘maté.’ It is a traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink, a tea leaf mix that is steeped in a traditional calabash gourd, hot water is added to it during the day, a metal or silver straw called a ‘bombilla’, is used for sipping on the tea during the course of the day. Yerba maté leaves are dried, chopped, and ground into a powdery mixture called yerba. The bombilla acts as both a straw and a sieve. The submerged end is flared, with small holes or slots that allow the brewed liquid in but block the chunky matter that makes up much of the mixture. A modern bombilla design uses a straight tube with holes, or a spring sleeve to act as a sieve. We were gifted with an ornament of a maté gourd, a most pleasant surprise, thank you to Gustavo and Federica! All we had to give them was some of Jack’s delicious home-made biltong. We hope that they enjoyed it. Jack suggested he visit them in Uruguay to teach them how to make the biltong; Uruguay is certainly not short on cows, the present count is five cows to one person with most people being in the farming industry or veterinary profession! Once they had left we found the large bag of tea in their room; the tea leaves looked a bit like finely chopped and dried marijuana! Maté information sourced from Wikipedia: Country of origin: Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivian Chaco, Brazil. Introduced:16th century AD Mate also known as yerba mate or cimarrón is a traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink, particularly in Argentina (where it is defined by law as the “national infusion”) Uruguay, Paraguay, the Bolivian Chaco and Southern Brazil and in southern Chile. It is also consumed by the Druze in Syria, the largest importer in the world, and in Lebanon.