Map of Argentina and Chile
mate mate mate

Mate: a religion

I think that talking about Mate in the first "file" is appropriate as you will see people drinking mate all along Argentina as soon as you arrive and everywhere.
More than a symbol, the mate is a religion in this country.
Either in the city or in the countryside, mate is drunk without moderation leaving, in some cases, visitors puzzled.
The mate, also known as "Paraguay tea", is a natural beverage and energizer daily consumed in South America, especially in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil, and also in the Middle West – Syria, Lebanon. Argentina is the world's largest producer and consumer of yerba mate. The indigenous Guaraní people, from Paraguay and the Argentine northeast, have consumed it since a very long time ago. According to the Guarani legend, their God came down on earth to bring them their religion, to teach them agriculture and to unveil the use of medicinal herbs amongst which we find: yerba mate. Jesuits started to cultivate mate since the mid-seventeen century in Paraguay. Since then it's been known as the "Jesuits’ tea" or "Paraguay tea".

In South America, the mate is much more than just an infusion, it is an art of living, an every day ritual, an amazing cultural symbol that highlights the idea of "sharing" with its own language. Mate is usually drunk in groups – symbol of friendship. Offering mate to a friend is equivalent tohaving a nice gesture, to showing hospitality.
Mate can be drunk anywhere: at home, at work, on a trip; all day long and at any age. Some children drink mate infused in milk while teenagers add coffee to it when the time to study arrives!
Bitter, more or less sweet, with honey or perfumed with herbs... each one gives his or her personal touch.

The mate is packed with minerals and antioxidants. It helps to fight against mental as well as physical tiredness, to keep you alert; furthermore, it strengthens your memory, prevents heart attacks and also lowers your cholesterol.
In addition, the mate is a good ally if you want to lose weight! It naturally regulates appetite, helps digestive and intestinal function. It also increases endurance, boosts immune system, relieves from allergy, clears your mind, fights depression and many other.

The mate is mainly well-known among the people who live in the countryside, the "gauchos". It is a loyal ally for a long day’s work. When they are alone in the vast plains of La Pampa or in the dryness of the Patagonia, the mate is good company, not to mention entertaining, too... but when you are with other people it is a social gesture. The mate livens social gatherings up as it moves around all the guests and lets them share a good time in those unplanned reunions that give place to well-know "chats" (at times never-ending). The time is not important, what matter is that there's always a good excuse to have mate.
Saying no when you are offered some mate would mean to be left behind...

Next article: The gaucho: an identity of his own
Travel to Peru and Bolivia See also the Journey to Peru and Bolivia ...


Patagonia in all seasons menu. For example, according to the climate, from Bariloche, in Patagonia Argentina, it is possible to go to Puerto Montt, in Chile, crossing successively three lakes by boat, as did the Jesuits and the first German settlers. I offer a tour that leads to the Pacific Ocean. It is quite long, but the beauty of the sites - forests, volcanoes and crystalline lakes - is such that it is worth to be carried. The Argentine side, cross the west arm of Nahuel Huapi and Lake Puerto Alegre and, the chilen side, Lake Todos los Santos. Moving from one lake to another by bus. This tour is feasible in all seasons, but in winter, it takes two days to reach Puerto Montt, stopping for one night at Peulla. We returned to Bariloche by air or by the same way, after a night in Puerto Montt. Borispatagonia is also responsible for visas to go to Chile and to book hotels. In Patagonia, winter and summer are tourist seasons. In summer, besides explore the surrounding, many activities are available: climbing, torrent fishing, sailing, horseback riding, hiking, rides, visits to Aciendas... In winter, the main activity is, of course, skiing, especially in July and August on the side of the Andes, but not only: snowshoe hikes, thematic tours, many walks to admire the beauty of Patagonia Argentina and Chile in this season, due a unique light, the warmth of the people of Patagonia... Just to talk about, I get goose bumps!