Mate. Mate. Mate.

Day 6 Saturday February 2

We woke up Saturday and took another long walk on the beach. I just love being in that intense sun, especially knowing that it will be months before I feel that heat on my skin again. Gabriel did his best with Google Translate and we did well talking and walking, all the while passing and sharing the Mate. At one point we all 4 just sat down for a long while, it was windy but that sand was soft and warm.

Made our way back to the house and got to meet Gabriel’s son Ernesto and his wife Dana and daughter Helena. Ernesto speaks perfect English so it was nice to have a translator again. Gabriel set out to make his wife Sylvia’s grandmothers pizza recipe, which as a mostly Italian, my mouth was watering from the overwhelming smell of garlic. Ernesto was cool as hell. Before getting married and having the cutest kid ever he was in a rock band called “The Blueberries.” He told us lots of stories about touring around Uruguay and Argentina and all of us continued to share and get to know each other a bit. 

As five o’clock rolled closer we got our printing workshop together for the 10 or so people that were coming. Amos had printed some lovely backgrounds with the text “2019- We came to print and share Mate,” I had spent the previous day carving some nice Mate plants, and Kim had carved a cool logo looking cut so that we could each have a “station” for each person to hand ink and print on their poster. The last station was back inside the shop to print the black text with Amos that said “El Mate es un amigo,” followed by printing Caja Baja’s logo on the bottom of the poster with a C& P Press. Most of the students spoke English and we had so much to talk about it was easy, we enjoyed each other’s work and there was so much admiration for one another. You could tell that all the students revered Gabriel and were mesmerized by Amos. We got a nice group photo, drank more cervesa and again, I was spent.

Day 7 Sunday February 3

Gabriel came to pick us up about 9:30 am to head to the capital city of Montevideo. Once there we met up with Jose, a young designer and a previous student of Gabriel’s, to walk around the big open market. Jose is cool: easy to talk to and very bright, like Ernesto, it was so nice to have a translator at our side. Gabriel and Jose helped Kim and I pick out our Mate cup and bombilla (straw) and we were STOKED. It was great people watching for sure and there were many old treasures to behold like at typical flea markets, rotary phones, old VHS tapes, tons of dog stuff and so many puppalitos (my made up word for dog). It was funny too because all of the music we encountered was all of our favorite tunes from the 80s like ZZ Top, CCR, Twisted Sister, Eddie Money, it was awesome. 

We then had a cool opportunity to meet up with a friend of a friend for lunch at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. My pal Gota from Sweden sent a message that her friend was living in Montevideo so we got in touch and made it happen. If there is one thing that these Uruguayans love is MEAT. Cool for me not so cool for my 2 vegetarian travel companions. Did I mention that I tried blood sausage? First of all, I thought it was just bloody meat. When I said to Ernesto that I thought the consistency was similar to a brownie and he laughed, I was sadly informed that blood sausage is simply that, blood, pork blood to be exact. Huh. It did taste good so there’s that. Everyone was so gracious to provide an “alternative” but it was a nice change, again, for us, I do not think that Gabriel or Jose were too impressed :) Anyways, Ana Valdes is a fiction writer who grew up in Uruguay then fled to Sweden where she spent most of her adult life. Turns out she was pals with Noam Chomsky and has led an incredibly fascinating life. We got to chat with her for a while and were off again, this time to check out the “old City” of Montevideo. 

After a lot of walking and checking out the sea, a carnival museum, and having some epic gelato, we made our way to Cafe Dore, where Gabriel had organized a panel talk featuring Amos and his 2 trusty printer companions. There were about 20 or so people of all ages anxiously awaiting the start! It was quite informal but the three of us sat up front of the coffee shop as Jose translated (hopefully what we said :0 we may never know). We talked about how we came to be printers, why we travelled here to print, and what our process is. It is not only an honor to be best pals with a guy like Amos, it is also inspiring to listen to him talk about his gift of connecting people and spreading joy. The audience fell in love with him (as most people do) as he lamented about how he wants to make the world a better place by being a generous teacher and printer. I think everyone agreed he is doing just that. 

I got to share my work as well and talk about the reduction prints as well as make some sweet trades with other printers that had been following my work on the Instagram, what a thrill! The crowd was warm and kind, so eager to talk to each of us and ask about when we will return. Our Airbnb hosts Bernt & Negrita came to see the talk! They were the sweetest couple ever and invited us back anytime!!! I followed a handful of people, traded prints, joined some Facebook groups and gave many besos (kisses). There I was again, totally exhausted. We finally made out way back to the cars- said our goodbyes to Jose, such an integral part of our INCREDIBLE day. We headed back to Gabriel’s place and as if he had not done enough for us, we stopped to get some MATE so that we could be all ready to go on our own when we left. I am so happy to have made these connections, this man reminds me so much of my own father: a creative giant, a community leader, and a gentle soul with a big heart. Gracias mi Amigo.

Day 8 Monday February 4 TRAVEL DAY

5am wake up  •  6am Drive to Bus Station  •  7am Bus ride to Colonia

9-11 Ferry back to Argentina. •. Taxi to AEP Airport. • 5pm Flight to Bahia Blanco