Railway Tea Tales - Taking Tea in Argentina

Buenos Aires

I spent two weeks in Buenos IAircs, Argenrina, giving scminars on railway safety. I had an understanding with the Transport department that they would show me some of their railway during the weekends. The first Sunday I went with an Inspector to Mar del Plata on the Atlantic coast. In Bucnos Aires the
train looked pretty beaten up and there were many windows with cracked glass.  Gctting up on the locomotivc I noticed an electric hot plate placed prominently
in fiont of the second rnan's seat. The Inspector said to me:

"The engineer doesn't care what state the locomotive is in providcd the stove works alright".

He wasnt joking. It turned our that the second man is more of a social secretary than anything else because it is his duty to make the mate and ensure it circulates. Argentineans are addicted to mate. It is a qpe of tca made from a Paraguayan ho1ly. Very much an acquired taste, some outsiders feel it tastes like old sacking. Just the right amount of mate is placed into a small cup or a small highly decorated gourd, and boiling water is added. The infusion is prodded a bit with a metal filtered tube, knorwn as a bombilla, and then is handed to the first person. The bombilla is used as a straw to suck up the mate. The empty cup is handed back and it is then refilled with boiling water and given to the next person. The mate is circulated continuously in a clockwise direction. From time to time the infusion is strengthcned by thc addition of more mate. The mate circulated without stop. When someone has had enough he says "Gracias" and he is then missed out. We had a different crew on the way back but the same mate scrvice only this time the mate contained some aromatic herbs as well.

It turned into an interesting trip. It was a good job that there were some station stops as there were no toilets on these locomotives.

Buenos Aires
Our train in the siding at Sevigne waiting for a meet. Notice the tablet or train staff catcher sticking out on the drivers'(ieft) side. This allorved the train staff exchanges to be made at speed.

Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders, The Interchange November 2010.

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