Q. Which African country has exactly the same name as its capital city?
There is a standing joke down here - Why are Uruguayans born with a bent left arm? To carry the flask for their mate.
So what is this mate thing all about.
Travel around Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil and you cannot fail to come across it. Yerba mate is a kind of
leaf that you put into a pot, pour on hot water then drink through a special straw. We tried it and it has a kind of bitter tobacco taste. It has lots of caffeine and judging by the amount that it drunk we figure it must have addictive powers.
Within families or groups of people it is passed around for you to take a sip then pass on. When the cup is empty it is polite to make a couple of slurping noises through the straw but more than 2 is offensive.
In Brazil it is also known as chimarrão, in Argentina we came upon a rather pleasant cold version called TDD where iced juice was poured over the leaves.
Many people joke that in Uruguay you are born with a crooked arm to hold the flask.
A man can never be parted from his flask, not even for a dip in the ocean.
Visit these countries and I challenge you not to see someone with mate.