27 Hours in Paraguay (part 3): Selecta yerba mate, from the farm to your steely bombilla

See also parts 12 and 4 of my 27 Hours in Paraguay.

Half an hour up the road towards Cuidad del Este from the UNESCO-listed Jesuit missions is the ‘capital of yerba mate,’ Bella Vista. A small note in Bradt Paraguay said Paraguay’s largest producer, Selecta, gives tours for US$5, with a goodie bag at the end. Time was too tight to reasonably allow a stop, but I ended up spending nearly two hours, fascinated by the tour and chatting with the young German descendents from Selecta.

Visitors to southern South America know the ubiquity of yerba mate, with its distinctive metal straw (bombilla) and calabash gourd. It is enjoyed in shared conviviality, people of all ages seemingly with no other occupation. And I had not yet sampled it, so it was time to learn.

Enjoy the tour and do stop by if you find yourself passing through Bella Vista.

Now, excuse me, I cracked open my goodie bag and…need to chill…

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All hail yerba mate!

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Fresh pickins rolling in

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Aging (note the workmen in the back)

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Sharing and enjoying

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