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Did I mention that I love Argentina?

Did I mention that I have a dog now? Yup. His name is Sam. He lives on the corner of the street next to my hostel. He’s always there, hanging out (whether it be 3pm when I’m going to lunch or 3am when I’m going back to the hostel). I feed him empinadas when I see him.

And I’ve been resting. For the past several months, everyone that I have met has been telling me about Bariloche.

“It’s so awesome. Incredible chocolate, craft beer, windsurfing, rafting, hiking, trekking, mountain climbing, fishing, you name it!”

And I haven’t done anything – except eat the chocolate and drink the beer. Of course.

Why? I was tired. And still kind of am. I’ve been sleeping 12 hours a night and doing nothing all day and have been loving it. I get up, check email, get the paper, read the whole thing, drink mate (don’t worry, I will explain mate, pronounced mah-tehy, in a few paragraphs), maybe play pool or chat with the Argentinean guys in the hostel, meet up with this really cool girl Eugenia that I met for dinner (gotta love Buenos Aires girls) and get to bed really late. Or should I say early? No matter. The important thing is that I sleep in till noon the next day and do it all over again. I’m also eating for like 10 pesos a day. That’s about 3.5 bucks. My hostel costs 14 pesos a day. That’s about 5 bucks. You simply can’t beat it. I love Argentina!

How long can I keep this up? A few more days, at least. I leave South America pretty soon.

So what is mate? Philosophers have been asking that question for centuries. Actually – no they haven’t. You’re the first one (how does it feel to be the only one who doesn’t know?). Ya te digo.

It’s a very Argentinean custom which I have taken it upon myself to adapt, seeing as my kids will be half Argentinean. The herb mate is kind of like tea, except you pour it in a special cup or dried out gourd (called “un mate”) which you can get in about a million different styles and shapes. You pour the mate (the herb) in your mate (the cup) and then poor hot water in slowly so that it gets absorbed completely. From there, you insert a special straw/filter thing called a bombilla into the mixture and drink.

You get only about 2-3 sips before your out of water, so you put in some more from your thermos (Oh yeah, you have to have a thermos. Like everyone else here.) and pass the mate on to the next person in the group. Everyone takes turns drinking from the mate and passing it to the next person, and you continue until you suck the mate clean. Then you dump it out, add more and continue. When you are done, you leave the yierba (herb) in the cup so that the flavor can absorb into the wood (or gourd, or whatever your mate is made of). It’s really cool and really tasty. From what I gather though, most foreigners hate it. Not me. I can’t get enough of it. And I can’t explain it, but it makes me feel really good. I read on some website that it has some crazy ingredient or something which imparts “well-being”, which I don’t take much stock in, but I can’t argue with results. You can share with others or drink it by yourself and the best part is that it makes your whole mouth green! Oh no, wait. That’s the annoying part. Unless you like your mouth green. Do you like your mouth green?

So where to next? I don’t know yet. I’m really enjoying my time here right now.

Some time in the next few days, I will leave to Buenos Aires. Or Mar del Plata. Or Foz de Iguazu. But I don’t know when. That’s what’s great about this adventure. The only thing I have to do is keep traveling. Yeah, easy enough, no? Come to Argentina, see the sights, eat the food, meet the girls, talk with the people, drink some mate – and then tell me if it’s easy to leave.

Just stick to the plan, Casey. Just stick to the plan. You can do it.