Posts Tagged ‘yerba mate’

La vida

La vida

Fight the morning chill with tea & Mosh

Challenge the body with a climb

Stimulate the mind with a mate

Warm the soul with fond memories

Feed the intellect with a good book

Heighten the senses with solitude

Cleanse it all with beachside meditation

Relax into comfort with a loving chat.


Confessions of a Pusher

The drug world has titles for everybody.  Lords, kingpins, barons, mules, authors, candymen, dealers, hawkers, gophers. Me…I’m a pusher.  I get people hooked.

I never started out to be a pusher.  During college, I went to study abroad in Europe and when my new roommate passed me her finest South America green I couldn’t resist.  At first, it was just a social thing.  We’d pass it around the table for everybody to enjoy.  Pretty soon, I began using even when I was alone.  I daydreamed during class.  As soon as I went home, I’d spark the fire.  Before long, I brought it to school with me.  In between classes I’d invite friends over to the coffee shop to get our fix.  They asked me where they could get some.  I couldn’t help but share my enthusiasm.  I’d set them up with a starter kit and a few weeks supply, enough to really get started.

I never sold anything.  My work is out of love, not money.  Like I said, I’m not a dealer, I’m a pusher.  I introduce people to a world they’ve never experienced.  And I’m good at it.  Again and again, somebody new approaches me and asks what I’m holding.

You see how much I enjoy it and how great it makes me feel.  It draws you in.  You eye me conspicuously, casting judgement, but I can see the curiousity in your gaze.  You wonder if you can get the same feeling.  Don’t be afraid. Come. Sit.  Join the circle.  When I pass it to you, take a long smooth pull.  Take a deep breathe, and enjoy.  It just might change your life.

A sort of love letter

A sort of love letter, that takes place inside of a mate, sipped in a misty mountain pass at 11,000 feet.

Mi querida La Ventosa,

With each passing week you grew to become my favorite place in Guatemala.  A lyric from a song I like sings, “I feel home, when I see the faces that remember my own.”  I´ve lived in a few different spots and I can undoubtedly say that I´ve never felt so at home in such a foreign environment.  The love, unity, and plain good energy that one feels upon entering “Jeronimo´s village” is stunning.  For clients, it was a dry haven on a wet walk, where they could warm themselves in the chuj.  For me, it became a place to learn, to play, to teach, to laugh, and above all, to share.

I still remember the first time I lit my stove to heat water for a late-afternoon mate.  As I hooked up the fuel line to the bottle all of the kids crowded around the Whisperlite Magic Show.  They gawked as I filled the fuel cup, lit the match, and sent the liquid into a flash of orange flame as it heated the metal.  As I drank, they eyed my mate suspiciously, giggling whispers in Mam.  Bravely, William accepted my foreign delight.  He slurped it down and handed back the gourd as a smile burst across his face.  The others reeled back with laughter.  One by one, they received the conspicuous beverage with surprising enthusiasm.

When I returned two weeks later, everybody greeted me with the same question, “¿trajiste su té?”  And so it began that each time I walked down the driveway into Don Jerónimo´s family compound another cousin, niece and brother would yell ¡E-Scot, bienvenido!, and come share a mate.

To my delight, our host Don Jerónimo acquired an instant love for my Argentine treat.  At the summit of La Torre (3837m), I always heat up water for everyone to sip coffee and hot chocolate.  Jerónimo habitually appeared the minute the water was ready, “¿tiene su mate?”  I acted as cebador as he regaled me with stories of growing up in La Ventosa.  It is said that alcohol and caffeine are the lubricants of conversation.  With each gourd, Jerónimo imparted more wisdom.

He is a man who loves his land and his people.  But, like many Guatemalans, harbors disdain for his government.  As a child he didn´t have the opportunity to go to school.  Instead, he joined his fellow highland Maya working on the coastal fincas of rich ladinos.  His first two years he worked for nothing.  Then, 40 cents/week, then 80 cents, un quetzal.  The Maya of Guatemala have been oppressed and ignored and for centuries.  He is still oppressed and ignored.  He knows that foreign aid comes to fight poverty in Guatemala, but realizes that it won´t make it all the way to La Ventosa.  Aid money has a way of disappearing in the capital, as workers take their holiday vacations to the beach.  Jerónimo knows no vacations, no Christmas, no travel for pleasure.  He´s aware that my parents’ house is nicer than his.  But he´s glad I´m here, eating his tortilla, bathing in his temascal and sleeping on the concrete floor.  He worked hard for that concrete.  And, he´s just happy that his kids have more opportunities than he had.  They get to go to school.  They’ve learned to read and write.  After school they get to come home and play, and if I´m lucky, share a mate.

It is a humbling experience to feel at home in a strange land, learning life lessons from a man who never had the opportunity to learn to read or write.  I feel privleged to have been welcomed by Don Jerónimo and his family, and will fondly remember the crispy tortillas hot off the griddle, the unforgiving concrete floor, friendly cries of ¡E-Scot!, and each and every mate-induced smile.