Magali and Yamil have no place to be and neither do we, so they decide it is time to teach us the proper way to drink mate. You’re supposed to shake the mate leaves in the little metal cups with two handles, designed for passing. Then invert it against your palm to settle out some of the dry tea leaf dust and create an angled path for the water to slide down into the mix, not disturbing the carefully placed dust. Then you block the end of the silver straw as you slip it into the mug so that nothing blows up into it until you draw the first slurp of water. It still tastes a bit grassy and bitter to me, so Magali shows me how to put a teaspoon of sugar on top of the leaves and leat it slowely dribble through, offering your boyfriend or just a sip only after a few rounds of water pours have distributed the perfect amount of sugar. My English, tea-loving granny would be impressed, except for the shared sipping part. But hey, what’s a little saliva when you’re already sleeping on top of strangers?
Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.