We had an amazing opportunity to travel into the Argentine Rainforest and stay at the incredibly beautiful, Yacutinga Lodge. It was quite the journey to get there, two hours on a back road and having rained for days before we arrived (we were there the first week of winter - another post about this coming soon), that road was essentially mud and large ruts. We were driving there with our guide, Nestro and a couple, Carlos and Maria from xxxx in Lakes District, Patagonia. We only spoke english and the couple mostly spanish and for people who couldn't speak one another's language, we exchanged a great deal of emotions in that car ride: fear, laughter, nervousness and uncomfortable closeness while we are bouncing in our seats and into one another. It was quite the trip, but thank goodness for the 4x4 Toyota Truck and someone that knows how to drive it, because what was in store was incredible. Yacutinga is wonderful - they've brought so much of nature inside to create the lodge, common areas and cabins. We were welcomed with a warm fire and cup of tea and immediately eased up after the long journey. Our time at the Lodge was spent eating good food, hiking and exploring. Our first night, we also spent time learning about the Rainforest and elements that are contributing to it's diminishing state as well as what Yacutinga and other Eco-friendly and sustainable lodges and organizations are doing to help combat those elements. During this presentation by our guide, we shared in the traditional Yerba Mate. Nestro, our guide, had brought his container, made out of a small pumpkin gourd, along with Yerba Mate (a type of green loose-leaf tea) and the filtered straw. There is a thermos of hot water and after having a few sips, you basically take turns passing the Mate around the group and refilling the water when necessary. Nestro explained that while a tradition in the U.S. may be to offer a guest a drink like water, cup of coffee or a glass of wine; Mate is offered as a sign of hospitality and shared among friends, "Sit down, let's have a Mate" (some consider it rude if you say "no"). I've read about this tradition quite a bit and thought it was something of the past, I didn't think I'd actually be able to partake in it as a tourist. While I didn't think to get a photo (refer to blog "Our Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words") - I appreciated being invited to share in their culture in such a unique way.