What is the symbolism of Mate and how is it mentioned throughout the book?
Mate is a traditional Argentine drink. It is a tea-like beverage and sees its first mention on the third page of the book. It continues to be mentioned throughout their journey in different contexts.
For the most part, Mate is mentioned after the pair have reached their destination for the night and are preparing food for themselves. In this situations, I believe that Mate is meant to symbolize part of their culture and a reminder of home. It is important to carry something that reminds you of home on a journey and in this situation it seems to be Mate.
In other situations, Mate is mentioned as a cultural difference. When Che and Alberto are in Bolivia (99), they are trying to find more mate but they are unable to. It is not commonly found in the north and so they have to adjust to the unavailability. They also used the mate to bond with others throughout the book, using it as a way to connect to others by sharing it with those on their travels (116).
There are other situations in which others are curious about Mate and the ways that it is made which shows the diversity in cultures in Latin America and provides a learning opportunity for all.
Overall, Mate plays a big role in this book even though it is often only mentioned briefly but it is clearly an important part of Alberto and Che’s culture and provides a good reminder of home even when they are far away.