After people watching in Uruguay (and Argentina), I’ve come to realize just how big a deal mate is. Mate is a type of South American tea prepared with loose herbs, hot water, (sometimes a ton of sugar) and drunk with a special metal straw and specific curved shaped cup. You traditionally pass around the cup and share.
From what I can tell in Uruguay, the people don’t leave the house without their mate and thermos. It’s like: keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Mate? Check. But actually.
I was in Montevideo and it was a whopping 30+ degrees Celsius (that’s like 85+ degrees Fahrenheit) and literally every person on the street is totting their mate and hot water thermos. Nothing like cooling off at the beach with a hot, steaming beverage.
I don’t think you can consider yourself truly Uruguayan or Argentinian unless you have your mate within a two meter radius at all times.