It is difficult to imagine a Uruguayan that does not drink Mate. It is an essential part of the national culture. But what is Mate?

In Uruguay Mate is not just a drink but a way of life. Our students got to experience this first hand with a lesson on how to properly prepare and drink Mate. The people of Uruguay don’t drink Mate because they are thirsty, they drink it because it is part of their culture to drink and share Mate with friends. To drink Mate is a social occasion which one spends with your friends or family. If you invite some friends round to your house, as soon as you have greeted them it is customary to offer them Mate. Mate is consumed in Lebanon as well as  Syria, which is the largest importer of it in the world.                                                                                   

Mate preparation consists of 4 elements:

The Mate herb comes from the yerba mate tree, originating in south America and grows spontaneously in the temperate and slightly cooler areas of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. The herb contains a reasonable amount of caffeine. The level of caffeine in Mate is somewhere between tea and coffee.

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The mate cup is made from dried calabash that is transformed into a container.
The mate container must be thoroughly cured before being used as a container to drink the Mate infusion.

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The bombilla is an implement generally made of metal and is the accessory that has the function of absorbing and filtering the mate infusion. It is composed of a long tube with one end being a curved filter with small holes to make sure small chunks of the herb themselves do not enter the bombilla. The other end acts as a nozzle which one has to suck with a fair amount of force for the Mate infusion to rise up the bombilla and enter your mouth. The bombilla as we know it today dates back to the 18th century.

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El thermo is the glass container whose double walls form a vacuum inside to keep the water for the mate hot for many hours. The lid of the thermo is shaped as a tubular spout to allow for a more efficient distribution of the hot water. The abandonment of the boiler to prepare the Mate infusion was a Uruguayan initiative. The thermal flask liberated the mate outside of the home. For this reason it is very common in Uruguay for people to drink Mate in all sorts of different public places. Strolling around Montevideo, you are able to see many people carrying around their thermal flask and mate container. The most popular public place for people to gather, socialise and drink Mate is in one of the public parks or at the rambla by the beach.

In conclusion, the importance of Mate for Uruguayans must never be underestimated as it forms a huge part of their way of life.

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Hola a todos!

My name is Toby, I am from England and I am undertaking the marketing internship here at La Herradura. I have been here for 3 weeks now and thought I’d give an update on my experience so far at La Herradura and in Montevideo to give prospective students an idea of what to expect.

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The lifestyle here in Montevideo is much more laid back than that of the UK and other European countries. I have gotten to know many Uruguayans through other people that are either living or studying at La Herradura, which has enabled me to have lots of Spanish practice as well as make plenty of new friends. I have also made plenty of international friends as the school receives students from all across the globe. There are also lots of sporting opportunities to get involved in. I have joined a local gym 10 minutes walking distance from the school and have played 5 a side football with Uruguayans I have met through mutual friends. Many Uruguayans also enjoy running along the Rambla which is the beautiful 26km long walkway which runs along the beach.

The Spanish teaching at the school has also impressed me. The classes are kept small, the quality of teaching is high, and the teachers are very personable. These aspects help create a friendly and supportive learning environment in which one can learn a great deal in just a small amount of time. You are given a language level test at the start to assess your Spanish level so that classes can be tailored to your level. The school have produced their own Spanish exercise books as well which is very useful for self-study.

La Herradura has also organised numerous trips for all the students to attend. We have visited museums ranging from the Gaucho Museum to the Museum of Art History, which displayed many iconic pieces from a multitude of cultures. The school’s pupils have also visited the local Ferias which are huge market stalls dotted across the city selling everything from fresh fruit and veg to clothing and accessories.  I have written in greater detail about these experiences in my other blog posts.

Overall my experience here so far has been very enjoyable and I would recommend to anyone interested in learning Spanish to attend the Spanish courses here on offer at La Herradura. You have the option of attending courses in the bustling capital city of Montevideo or the picturesque beach-laden location of Punta Del Este. Not only will you receive excellent teaching, but you will be able to discover more about the fascinating and truly welcoming Uruguayan culture.

Make sure to keep an eye out on this page for more updates regarding my experience at La Herradura and in Uruguay.

Saludos//Greetings

Toby

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On Thursday the 22nd of November the students of La Herradura Spanish school in Montevideo visited the Museo de Historia del Arte in Montevideo, led by teacher Juan. There were many fascinating exhibitions on display here including many works from different cultures and regions. The three main collections were Mayan-Guatemalan textiles, samurai weapons and African art. The museum however featured art from across the globe including Islamic, Egyptian and Greek pieces as well. // El jueves 22 de noviembre, los estudiantes de la escuela de español La Herradura en Montevideo visitaron el Museo de Historia del Arte al lado de la intendencia, dirigido por el maestro Juan. Hubo muchas exposiciones fascinantes en exhibición aquí, incluyendo muchas obras de diferentes culturas y regiones. Las tres colecciones principales fueron textiles mayas-guatemaltecas, armas samurai y arte africano. Sin embargo, el museo presentaba arte de todo el mundo, incluyendo piezas islámicas, egipcias y griegas.

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The first piece that immediately draws your attention upon entering the museum is the mummy of the priestess Esaeris (Great Isis). It originates from Egypt and is thought to be around 2400 years old. She was the priestess of the ‘templo del dias min’ where religious processions were held. Historical tests show however that despite her beauty she suffered an untimely, premature death. Such profound artistic pieces show the high regard in which death and the afterlife was held by the Egyptians and helps us understand better their strong belief systems surrounding the eternal life and the extensive preparation needed, to ensure a smooth transition for the deceased into the afterlife. // La primera pieza que inmediatamente llama tu atención al entrar en el museo es la momia de la sacerdotisa Esaeris (Gran Isis). Es de origen egipcio y se cree que tiene alrededor de 2400 años. Era la sacerdotisa del “templo del dias min” donde se llevaban a cabo las procesiones religiosas. Sin embargo, las pruebas históricas muestran que, a pesar de su belleza, sufrió una prematura muerte. Estas piezas artísticas tan profundas muestran el gran respeto que los egipcios tenían por la muerte y la vida futura y nos ayudan a comprender mejor sus fuertes sistemas de creencias que rodean la vida eterna y la extensa preparación, para garantizar una transición sin problemas del fallecido a la otra vida.

In 1962 many archaeological pieces were acquired from Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica. The most striking piece acquired is the Olmec head in rock sculpture, seen in the picture above. This is a large stone representation of a human head developed by the first major civilisation in Mesoamerica, the Olmecs. It is believed that these sculptures are representations of powerful rulers from Olmec society. // En 1962 se adquirieron muchas piezas arqueológicas de México, Guatemala y Costa Rica. La pieza más sorprendente adquirida es la cabeza olmeca en escultura de roca, que se ve en la imagen de arriba. Esta es una gran representación en piedra de una cabeza humana desarrollada por la primera civilización importante en Mesoamérica, los olmecas. Se cree que estas esculturas son representaciones de poderosos gobernantes de la sociedad olmeca.

Many other works from south America were brought to the museum in the 1980s. Included in these works are pieces from the Chancay civilisation, a pre-Colombian civilisation that inhabited the coastal areas of Peru from around CE 1000 to 1470. Two Moche textile pieces, a silver Chimu crown ornament and ceramic pieces from the Nariño culture of Colombia are also on display in the museum. Such pieces are truly unique. // Muchas otras obras de América del Sur fueron llevadas al museo en la década de 1980. Se incluyen en estas obras piezas de la civilización chancay, una civilización precolombina que habitó las zonas costeras de Perú desde aproximadamente el CE 1000 hasta 1470. Dos piezas textiles de Moche, un adorno de plata de chimú y piezas de cerámica de la cultura Nariño de Colombia.

Overall the museum is definitely worth the visit as there are numerous items from multiple countries, cultures and civilisations on display and thus you are bound to find something that will interest you. // El museo definitivamente vale la pena visitarlo, ya que hay numerosos artículos de varios países, culturas y civilizaciones en exhibición y, por lo tanto, siempre encontrarás algo que te interese más y por el cual tengas más enfasis. 

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On Friday the 13th of November the Spanish language students of La Herradura Montevideo paid a visit to the Feria, the outdoor market, which sells a whole range of items from fresh fruit and veg to clothing. Such Ferias occur every week across the whole of Montevideo and are held at least twice a week. // El viernes 13 de noviembre, los estudiantes de español de La Herradura Montevideo visitaron la Feria, es un mercado al aire libre, que vende desde frutas y verduras frescas hasta ropa. Tales Ferias ocurren cada semana en diferentes partes de  Montevideo y se llevan a cabo al menos dos veces por semana en diferentes barrios de la ciudad.

The Spanish language students were tasked with investigating the range of problems faced by ordinary Uruguayan market-traders. The students were given a sheet which asked them to find the names and ages of three Uruguayan market traders as well as three concerns which they had about Uruguay. // Los estudiantes de español se encargaron de investigar la variedad de problemas que enfrentan los comerciantes y el resto de la sociedad uruguaya. A los estudiantes se les entregó una hoja en la que se les pedía que encontraran los nombres y las edades de los tres comerciantes del mercado uruguayo, así como las tres inquietudes que tenían sobre Uruguay.

The main concerns held by Uruguayans at the Feria fell into 3 categories. The first concern many held was regarding the Uruguayan economy and their business. The market traders we asked were concerned about increasing governmental interference with their business and the resultant reduction in their net income. // Las principales preocupaciones de los uruguayos en la Feria se dividieron en 3 categorías. La primera preocupación que muchos sostuvieron fue sobre la economía uruguaya y sus negocios. A los operadores del mercado que les preguntamos les preocupaba la creciente interferencia gubernamental en su negocio y la consiguiente reducción de sus ingresos netos debido a los grandes impuestos. 

The second concern was about being able to receive the necessary documentation to live and work in Uruguay and the considerable time and hassle it takes to receive the required documentation. Receiving a working visa is also an issue many of them are struggling with. Most of the market traders we asked were from other south American or central American countries such as Cuba. // La segunda preocupación fue sobre la posibilidad de recibir la documentación necesaria para vivir y trabajar en Uruguay y el considerable tiempo y la molestia que conlleva recibir la documentación requerida. Recibir una visa de trabajo también es un problema con el que muchos de ellos están luchando. La mayoría de los comerciantes del mercado que pedimos provenían de otros países de América del Sur o América Central, como Cuba debido a los problemas sociales y gubernamentales que tienen sus países. 

The third concern held by such market traders was in being able to bring their families to come and live in Uruguay with them due to the tight rules and regulations regarding immigration to the country. // La tercera preocupación de estos comerciantes del mercado fue la de poder traer a sus familias para que vengan a vivir a Uruguay con ellos debido a las estrictas normas y regulaciones con respecto a la inmigración al país que estan teniendo ultimamente. 

Afterwards the students were able to enjoy the fresh range of fruit and vegetables on offer at this Feria including juicy mangoes as well as huge creamy avocados, all available for a bargain price. // Luego, los estudiantes pudieron disfrutar de la fresca gama de frutas y verduras que se ofrecen en estas ferias, que incluyen mangos jugosos, enormes aguacates cremosos y otros tipos de alimentos bien frescos, todos a un precio de “ganga”.

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On Wednesday the 7th of November our international Spanish language students went on a trip to visit the Gaucho museum in Montevideo, led by teacher Juan. The Gaucho is a legendary and fearless cowboy, which acts as a vital national symbol of both Uruguayan and Argentinian culture. //El miércoles 7 de noviembre, nuestros estudiantes internacionales de español hicieron un viaje para visitar el museo Gaucho en Montevideo, dirigido por el maestro Juan. El gaucho es un vaquero legendario y audaz, que actúa como un símbolo nacional vital de la cultura uruguaya y argentina.

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The Gauchos lived and worked on grasslands (Pamapas) during the 18th and 19th century. They had no specific ethnicity but were most often of mixed European and native American descent. Gauchos would dress in a poncho and possess a large knife for protection known as a ‘facon’. They would carry a leather whip commonly known as a ‘rebenque’ in order to control their horses. The trousers worn by them were loose fitting and often doubled up as a saddle. Being a skilled horseman was a key part of the Gaucho identity and they would often learn to ride horses before they could fully walk.  Nowadays the word Gaucho is used to refer to members of the Uruguayan rural working class. // Los gauchos vivieron y trabajaron en los campos (Pamapas) durante los siglos XVIII y XIX. No tenían una descendencia específica, pero la gran mayoría eran de ascendencia mixta de europeos y nativos americanos. Los gauchos se vestían con un poncho y poseían un gran cuchillo de protección conocido como “facón” . Llevaban un látigo de cuero conocido comúnmente como “rebenque” para controlar sus caballos. Los pantalones usados eran holgados y con frecuencia se doblaban como una silla de montar conocidos hoy en día como las “bombachas de campo”. Ser un jinete experto era una parte clave de la identidad gaucha y, a menudo, aprendían a montar a caballo antes de poder caminar. Hoy en día la palabra gaucho se usa para referirse a las personas que realizan labores de campo en el interior del país.

The Gauchos had a reputation as being honourable and brave people but polite and silent at the same time. They were however very capable of violence and on many occasions petty arguments would end violently. The gauchos however lived a simple life and inhabited huts made merely of mud. Their religious beliefs could be described as a combination of both superstition and roman Catholicism. Their hobbies included singing and guitar playing as well as drinking and gambling. // Los gauchos tenían la reputación de ser gente honorable y valiente, pero educados y silenciosos al mismo tiempo. Sin embargo, eran muy capaces de violencia y en muchas ocasiones los argumentos mezquinos terminaban violentamente. Los gauchos, sin embargo, vivían una vida simple y habitaban chozas hechas simplemente de barro. Sus creencias religiosas podrían describirse como una combinación de superstición y catolicismo romano. Sus pasatiempos incluían el canto y la guitarra, así como la bebida y el juego.

Overall the students very much enjoyed their trip to the Gaucho museum and with the detailed knowledge of the teacher Juan, the students were able to learn a lot about the Gauchos, one of the most important symbols of Uruguayan culture. // En general, los estudiantes disfrutaron mucho de la visita al museo Gaucho como parte de la clase de conversación y con el conocimiento detallado del maestro Juan, los estudiantes pudieron aprender mucho sobre los Gauchos, uno de los símbolos más importantes de la cultura uruguaya.

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