The Guayaki teams in North and South America both work tirelessly and passionately for the same rainforest mission, but we don’t often get to spend time together. Our recent trip to visit the Ache Guayaki in Paraguay was a very special experience for us: we got to participate in the yerba mate harvest, connect with the rainforest, and for many of us, it was a chance to meet the rest of our Guayaki family for the first time.
We asked our team members who went to South America to send a picture that stirred a memory of the trip and tell us a story. Each felt something different; everyone felt something magical.
The photo I picked was taken the morning after we arrived. We had a long day of travel and an amazing day at the Iguazu falls the day before. That night, we met all the other people (now friends) at the lodge and shared our stories and just hung out learning about who we all are. We knew by the end of the night we had a very strong connection and the energy was building. The picture is of Alex and Boy under a umbrella of light, energy, spirit (you tell me) waiting to start a trip down the Iguazu river.
Now after the trip I see the light as a bond taking place that we all became part of throughout the remaining days and time with our Ache Guayaki family.
Amongst all the photos that I took along the way, this one stands out to me as encapsulating the unity of our group with the Guayaki children. Luke had the idea of walking around the village and looking for the church. As we set out, the kids took us by the hand and led us along the way. Through their village amongst the trees, we encountered pigs, chickens, and a big ol’ black cow grazing in the futbol field. We saw a few men hard at work on their new school house, with a termo and guampa nearby for requisite breaktime. Next to the schoolhouse, we saw the organic garden that had been planted in which the children took great pride. The photo was taken as we had made a half lap around the village seeing the day to day goings on of the Guayaki people in their little piece of paradise in Paraguay.
I’m not sure who took this photo but I love it. It’s a beautiful moment when you find yourself coexisting with nature. Harvesting alongside the Ache makes you so keenly aware that you are part of something unique and how lucky you are to be embraced by this amazing community. It was the most gratifying work I’ve ever done and it gives my daily work an additional layer of personal meaning.
That third and final morning was sublime as I had finally unwound and grounded into the experience. It was a gestalt. There was the peacefulness of the rainforest and the bounty if offered in the newly harvested, aromatic mate. The feeling of shared purpose and connection with the Ache community and those of us who came to participate. There was curiosity in the air. Even though we were from different parts of the globe with very different lifestyles, we knew our lives were intimately connected. That was really cool to experience.
This is one of my favorite photos, because of what it going on. This is a photo of the 1st milling/culling of the mate which is done by hand in the forest by the whole community; men, women and children (perhaps 6 and older). The leaves are stripped from the branches and whole small stems with leaves are broken into 4 to 5 inch pieces in preparation for the flash drying. I loved participating!Us adults worked mostly quietly and repetitively. The children laughed and played, feeling proud to be old enough to participate, and the teens poked fun with each other. I think I will always remember that crack, crack, cracking of the stems being snapped, the sounds of the forest and that pervasive feeling of connection. The sharing of a tasty mate gourd at break gave much needed energy to carry on with the labor and brought it full circle!
This is one of my favorite pics because it captures Margarite and Alex, who is such a powerful visionary for the Next Economy and how we can live in balance and harmony with nature on this planet. And Margarite struck all of us as such a powerful leader. She was able to very succinctly summarize the Aché’s struggle: To protect the forest and to rise out of poverty while maintaining their indigenous traditions and way of life. It is a pleasure to be working at the side of these two in working to support the Aché’s struggle, and the struggle we all face to save our planet from collapse and learn to live in a balanced way with all life on earth.
See more awesome pictures from our trip on Pinterest.
We follow the lives of many who drink Guayaki or share our passion for nature. Is there someone we should meet? Email us!
When competitive surfer Pedro Berasaluce David goes to the water, he leaves the world behind him. “I forget everything,” he says in his native Portugese, which is translated to us in English. “From the Earth, from the land. I’m completely connected with the ocean.”
[At left: Pedro, 19, rides high waves with his Guayaki-wreathed board]
Pedro, 19, is training to be the best in the world. He’s already building a record in pro junior competitions, where he pairs the stress-free elation he feels in the water with sharper focus. Engaged in his sport, his mind works a bit more mechanically as he watches competitors and assesses what marks he must reach.
Pedro began surfing at the age of 2, having grown up in a surfer family: everyone in his family surfs except for his mother, Nina (and his father and three brothers are still trying to get her out there). Wave enthusiasts from everywhere flock to the surfing school his father, “El Capitan David,” founded 18 years ago on Praia do Rosa beach in Santa Catarina, Brazil. Beyond technique, the 400 or so students who visit the school each year from around the world are infused with fathoms-deep lessons on the water, the human connection with nature, and a sense of respect and community. Some call it a “school of life.”
The mission for the school is we are who we are, we all have equal rights and opportunities,” Pedro says. “To break with barriers, cultural barriers, the color of your skin, eyes, we’re all equal for the ocean, waves gonna break and it’s gonna break the same no matter who’s surfing it.”
Besides inspiration from the school’s surf community and his natural love for the water, Pedro has also been motivated to succeed in his sport watching the London Olympics. “It’s real inspiring to see other people get so far and reach a gold medal, or silver medal, coming from places like, from nothing,” he says. “To see them succeed or surpass their expectations.”
Naturally, this level of achievement takes work. Pedro prepares for competitions with full days in the water, aerobic training, and hydration (he has enjoyed Guayaki shots, which make him very animated; mostly he drinks water).
His passion and training have taken him all over the world, with some of his favorites to surf the beaches of Spain and France — though there’s more to loving where you are than getting to experience huge waves. “When you’re with friends,” Pedro says, “any place is a favorite place.”
Donn Felker is CTO of tech company Qonqr and author of the books Android Tablet Dev for Dummies and Android App Dev for Dummies. Struggling with his coffee addiction, he made a Facebook post asking his friends for ideas. One of them suggested yerba mate, leading Donn on this journey:
I never liked coffee until about my mid twenties. I found some sugary sweet drink that was some thing called a “latte”. I ended up liking it and ordered one whenever I met my friends at a coffee shop. Over time I noticed that these things also carried quite the “zing” (and jitters among other things) after I drank it. Before I knew it, a couple years later I was having a coffee every other day. Then I got married and my wife loves coffee. She brewed it all the time at home so I started having a cup here and there and made my own version of latte’s and such. Fast forward five years later and I’m a two cup of coffee drinker per day. If it was a late night it could be 3-4 cups of coffee to get the engine going.
As time progressed over the last year or so I noticed a change in the color of my teeth (as do all coffee drinkers usually). I brush my teeth so its not a hygiene issue. My dentist told me “you have very porous teeth, and if you drink coffee it will be absorbed into your teeth. Sure you can brush, but thats why your teeth are looking a shade or two darker.” That literally grossed me out. I was also growing very tired of the jitters and was beginning to have problems sleeping at night because I had so much coffee flowing through my system. I wanted to quit, I was done. I wanted brighter teeth (and better smelling breath, who likes coffee breath anyway?). So I tried to quit, cold turkey … oops.
Second day into quitting the massive headaches hit. I was grumpy, blah, not feeling good. Long story short, I started drinking coffee again. I tried cutting back, didn’t work. I tried slowly removing myself off of coffee, nope, didn’t work. I eventually didn’t even like the taste of it anymore, but I needed it. I couldn’t believe it… I was hooked on coffee. What the hell! How could I let this happen!? Almost amused at the fact that I was hooked I posted on Facebook about how I was hooked on coffee and wanted to get off but wasn’t sure how. I mentioned I liked Yerba Mate and was going to give it a try but it seemed that the tea packets didn’t pack enough punch to help me get past NOT drinking coffee. That’s when my old friend Mateo commented and said I needed to try the loose leaf yerba mate instead.
After some conversation with Mateo about the loose leaf I was able to finally get my hands on some loose leaf Guayaki Yerba Mate as well as a Mate Gourd (a gourd is a cup that is made from a Gourd plant and is used in traditional drinking of the mate). Mateo informed me that drinking the mate that was loose leaf allowed the mate to be brewed as strong as coffee. Using the gourd took some getting used to, but I enjoyed it. It was a different experience and I’m glad to have one. However, I’m a klutz and I work at the computer a good part of the day so I could possibly spill it over a few thousand dollars worth of equipment – not good. To combat this and still have the great effects of the loose leaf tea but to also be safe around my electronics I picked up a French Press Travel Mug I can now bring Mate with me while I travel.
I used the gourd for about two weeks and noticed a great improvement in my quality of life. The first major benefit I noticed was that I slept like a rock at night. Apparently yerba mate helps you sleep at night when you drink it during the day. Very cool. The second was that I did not have any caffeine/coffee withdrawals – I had plenty of energy. Third, I didn’t experience the jitters or crash that you can get with coffee or even black or green tea. I also felt VERY CLEAN when I drank it. Sometimes coffee (even with rice milk or almond milk) still sat very heavy in my stomach at times (this was only my experience so your mileage may vary). I did not have the brown staining effects of coffee as well as nasty coffee breath. Finally, I was able to finally kick the coffee habit. The one super nice thing about this? I’m able to enjoy an occasional coffee again. I still love the smell and the occasional taste of it. So every couple of weeks or maybe once a month I’ll have a cup of coffee, iced coffee or something that has coffee in it, simply because I want to… not because I have to. I’ve been able to go days without drinking tea and not have cravings or withdrawls of the sort. Overall its been a great experience.
Tips on kicking the coffee habit with mate: I’ve tried a few brands of mate and the kind that worked best for me (and the kind I liked the best) was the Guayaki Yerba Mate. You can find it at health stores like Whole Foods and the like. Make sure you buy the loose leaf kind and make sure you have a tea infuser, coffee maker for French press. Quitting coffee is like quitting any other drug – you have to be emotionally invested in quitting. Spend a few bucks, get a good infuser (get used to the occasional leaf in your tea, it won’t kill you) and/or a gourd. Drink it early in the morning when you wake up or when you normally drink coffee (I know many folks who only drink coffee after lunch). Basically… replace it with your coffee routine. I now take a bag of mate with me when I travel and I bring my travel press. Hot water is usually easily found at a hotel and then you’re off to a good morning with some good tea.
Have fun and enjoy!
– Donn Felker
If you drink yerba mate at work, you know its productive magic. Alex Lawson is definitely no stranger to its energy; he has two jobs and a can of Enlighten Mint always ready.
“I blame 20% of my effectiveness on my mate consumption,” he says as he juggles phone calls, sets up meetings and goes through the motions of a Washington lobbyist’s typical day.
Alex is Executive Director at Social Security Works, where he connects people with press to tell stories of Social Security helping those in need. From his office on K Street, he spends the day piling over spreadsheets of data and working with his team on strategies to get information to the public.
More than spending his time calculating, Alex strives to bring facts and figures to life. “We just bring real people into Washington, DC, and we walk them around, and we have them meet their members of Congress, and make it real apparent to everyone that behind these numbers are real people.”
When not here, he’s producing shows and running tape at We Act Radio, his talk station, or addressing the media on TV or at a press conference.
Days can begin at 7 a.m. and end late at night when a story is being prepared. “You have to go to studio either obscenely early in the morning or after a full day, regardless if it’s 104 out, and then if you have to be super energetic and peppy and likable and strong at the same time,” he says.
“I have always found that, it’s almost like cheating,” he explains, “but you have some mate before you go onstage, before you have to do any presentation — anything where you have to really make sure that you’re focused, projecting, positive, and you have to connect with an audience — it’s really incredibly useful.”
Alex’s mother hails from Brazil, and he has always been a mate fan. Falling into a decision to switch off of coffee for good, he and and his wife Laila, a staff attorney at Legal Aid Maryland domestic violence, both turn to its energy in their work. While they both drink loose leaf at home, Alex prefers Enlighten Mint cans. “In our schedules, being able to actually very expeditiously drink one of these in the morning is very useful,” he says. “And as you know,
the weather here is TERRIBLE in the summer. And then you have to wear suits.”
Whether toggling the mic or sorting through paperwork, you can feel Alex’s passion for bringing deep, inspiring stories to the ears, eyes and hearts of Washington.
“In Washington, DC, you’re fighting against the fact that it’s not the majority of people that have their voices heard,” he says. “But organized people can beat organized money. It just takes a lot of effort.”
Does mate fuel your work or passion? Email us (email@example.com) and share your story — we may feature it here!
Of all the questions we get asked, these are perhaps the ones we hear most: Where ARE you? Why can’t I find you at my local store, or why does my local store only carry certain Guayaki products and not others? When will you sell at larger grocers or closer to my home?
First: How awesome is it that everyone loves yerba mate?? We love it so much that word of Guayaki is spreading — not only are you choosing a healthier path for your body, you’re putting your cash into a pro-planet product and supporting our mission to restore rainforest. We’re doing everything we can to be available wherever possible, but ultimately, it’s not up to us. It’s up to the stores, and up to you.
So if you want to see Guayaki at your local store, help us out. Here’s what you can do:
- Print out our [Product Request Form] and fill it in with the type of Guayaki you want (cans, bottles, tea bags, loose leaf), and any other info on the form that you think would be helpful. This form is not for us — it’s for YOUR stores!
- Give the form to the place where you’d like to buy Guayaki Yerba Mate. It can be a big or small grocer, local shop, convenience store . . . wherever you go, and wherever you would want to buy yerba mate. You can give it to a customer service desk, a store manager, or whoever is responsible for making purchases at the store.
- Tell your friends to do it, too! The more requests a store gets, the more they’ll see that people want yerba mate.
That’s it! It boils down to this:
To a place of business, your word speaks louder than ours. If you love us, tell the places you shop.
- If the place you normally buy Guayaki is out of stock or doesn’t stock your favorite kind, tell them! Fill the form out or mention it to the people working. If they know you want it, they’ll work to get it for you.
- If you love Twitter like we do, find your stores’ Twitter handles (if they have them) or email addresses and ask for Guayaki. But know that to a store, that form means a lot, because it shows that you actually, physically shop there.
- If you have yerba mate lovers in your community and have ideas, send them to us! We’re here to connect and mobilize. Tweet us @guayaki or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re frighteningly responsive.
Yerba mate is a drink of empowerment and community. Know your power.
This year has been nothing but magical for Guayaki: we released our new sparkling cans, had a wildly energetic time at Expo, and made B Corp’s list of companies “Best for the World”. Our dream of producing sustainable, mission-driven yerba mate has become a collective reality, one we’re all working towards and sharing for the benefit of our greatest good.
And when we say all, we mean all: WorldBlu just released its annual list of the Most Democratic Workplaces. We made it! And we’re honored to say we’ve made it every year since 2007. And this doesn’t just recognize the passion we all have for our work, or the way we work so well together. It also reflects the spirit of community that grows around yerba mate.
When sharing a gourd of mate with another person or a group, enjoying incredible health and energy are just the beginning. Mate inspires a sense of openness: ideas are shared, passions exchanged, friendships are forged, and communities are born. Nourishing these feelings of mutual trust and support, the creation of a working environment where we each have a voice, open opportunities and a strong feeling of being welcome where we are just comes naturally. Yerba mate creates democratic workplaces! We should all be so blessed. And we’re working on that.
As with everything, we share this award with you, for making our mission successful and helping us make our work happen.
Friday morning, as the sun came up, we brewed some fresh loose-leaf mate to help us prepare for the long journey ahead. After packing up the trunk and back seat with Guayaki, DJ gear, balloons, lasers, and lighting equipment, we hit the road. Hours of pumping music, thickening forests, and resisting the urge to break into the cans and bottles of organic gold in the back went by, and we finally arrived at our destination, Bellingham Washington.
As I set up the lighting system and DJ gear, the crew unloaded the mate, and set a case upon every table. 15 cases should be enough, right? We were about to find out. After everything was set up, we all took a moment to snag a bottle of Pure Endurance, hoping it would help carry us through the next 4 hours of madness. People started to trickle in as the front doors were opened; the show was about to start. WIthin minutes, the entire auditorium was packed, and people started to crowd around the tables, curious about this new drink. I had a few minutes before I needed to head onstage, so I told a large group of neon-clan students the benefits of yerba mate, and they were excited for the extra energy boost they would need later on in the night. I had to head up and prep to go on, so I asked a couple of my crew members to hang around the tables and explain the Guayaki story to people before it got too loud.
Half an hour into the set, we hit maximum capacity. Almost 800 Western Washington University students had crowded into the multipurpose room, and were currently all jumping in unison, singing along to a remix of “What is Love?” as the strobe lights flashed, and lasers scanned the crowd. It was definitely a night to remember. I have never seen such a positive, high-energy group like this at any of my events so far, and I have a feeling part of it was due to the organic caffeine a large portion had been lucky enough to enjoy.
Guayaki has become my ultimate fuel for DJ performance, and something I always want to share with the crowds and fans. I’m greatly looking forward to the next event, and opportunity to share the gift of yerba mate!
Can you spot the Guayaki in each one?
University Cebador, Portland State University