Incarnations of Yerba Maté (35)

This morning I let myself drink two cups of yerba maté. I bought two tea bags from the health food store here on Saturday, my latest approach to letting myself indulge in this addiction now and again. Each sip is delicious, the unique, bitter aroma, the coconut milk and agave a divine alchemy with the sharp flavor. I think of the even more wonderful maté I can buy in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs. But I don’t let myself buy it because I’ve learned I’ll drink it until it’s gone. And then, I remember the first time I drank that same quality of yerba maté, and it carries me to Ajijic.

my Ajijic balcony with the chair and pots of flowers, including the terra cotta I mention with the bougainvillea

I am on the sidewalk near the little health food store two blocks from my apartment on Aldama, the one on the frontage road north of the highway, beside the nursery where I bought my bougainvillea for my balcony and that lovely oblong rectangular terra cotta pot. The health food store is run by a woman and her husband who live in Guadalajara. I like them both very much. I pause before the nursery next door, run my eyes over the plants spilling out onto the sidewalk, inhale the scent of gardenias, then move past and enter the open store front. Yerba maté is not a thing in Mexico–it’s more a South American drink–so I don’t really expect them to carry it, but I ask anyway. I’ve forgotten in the moment the owners are from South America themselves. The woman is there today. She nods then smiles at my surprise, walks toward one of the shelves in the small space, hands me a large bag of loose yerba maté. I am shocked they have it, dismayed it’s not in teabags. I buy it anyway, then buy a small sieve from the Soriana in Chapala. I brew it in a glass pitcher in my rental kitchen, strain it with my new sieve.

In Palm Springs now, I use the sieve every day, to strain my alfalfa, oatstraw, horsetail, to catch my seeds when I make a glass of lemon water. But this morning I use the two precious Guayaki teabags I have allowed myself. I sit in my courtyard and savor every sip, relish the clarity of the mountains before me, the peace of the late autumn morning. And then I am back in my rental kitchen in Ajijic, the ridge of the hill outside my window, running that deep green Argentinian maté through my Mexican sieve. I mix in the half and half and local honey I bought from the tiangis. I walk out to the balcony, and I sit in my big chair. I sip the creamy hot sweetness while I look out across the lake below, and the crimson flycatcher makes acrobatic swoops from the neighbor’s chimney across the narrow cobblestone street.

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