My friend Guillermo yesterday introduced me to the custom and ritual of mate (pronounced mah-tay) drinking. The history of this drink is rather complex (you can read about it here) so I won’t go into it, but basically it is a kind of herbal infusion made in a particular way and served in a gourd with a special straw to filer out the herbal mix. If that were all there was to it, it would just be an interesting local drink. But the part that really fascinates me is the drinking ritual. The same cup and straw is passed in a circle to as many people as are present for the drink. Each one drinks until the water is gone and the server adds more and passes it back for the next person. This continues (but only one cup at a time per person) until as many rounds have been made that all are satisfied. I couldn’t help but feel slightly illicit in passing this thing around. There is nothing other than a few coffee-like stimulants in the mate, but the action of passing it around and hearing that slurp sound as the cup was emptied reminded me of nothing so much as my college days and sharing bong hits.