EDITOR’S NOTE: Phawker South American Bureau chief St. John Barned-Smith just started a two year hitch in the Peace Corps teaching English in rural Paraguay.
BY ST. JOHN BARNED-SMITH Paraguay’s hot. Not deal-breaking hot, but definitely toasty. It’s frequently around 35-38C, which means its frequently in the mid 80s-90s. So how to deal with the heat and humidity? Some genius long ago came up with Terere. Terere is the iced version of Mate. Whenever Paraguayans gather, they end up forming a circle, and passing around the stuff. Here’s how it works: you take a guampa, which holds the yerba. Guampa’s are usually made of horn, or metal, sometimes it can be as simple as a cup. Yerba (a tea made of herbs) are packed into the guampa, and then a bombilla is inserted into it. A bombilla is a metal straw with a filter at the bottom to keep herbs from seeping into your mouth when you’re hoovering up terere. Paraguayans then dump water, yuyos (fragrant leaves or other herbs) and ice into a separate thermos. Really refrescante (Refreshing) mixes use freshly squeezed lime too. Anyways, the water is poured into the guampa, drank, and then the guampa is refilled and passed to the next person. It’s a way to stay constantly hydrated, it has a taste different from plain water, and its a great way to get to know people.
PREVIOUSLY: THE PEACE CORPS DIARIES: Letter From Paraguay