Since we arrived in Montevideo, I was fascinated by people of all types- construction workers, professionals, fathers on the side of soccer fields watching their kids- with a cup the size of a small coffee mug and using a 'straw' of sorts to sip a type of drink. It turns out that they are drinking Mate, a tradition here in Uraguay. The cup is called a calabash and the straw is a bombilla.
The drink is made by filling the calabash cup with dried leaves of yerba mate and adding hot water, much like making tea. The mate leaves looks like flat crushed green leaves. The calabash is made from the hard wood of the calabash tree and the bombilla is made of metal (stainless steel and even silver). At the bottom of the bombilla are about a dozen small holes so you can sip the drink with the mate leaves around it.
Uruguayans drink mate just like we drink coffee. You'll see people walking around with a thermos of hot water along with their calabash and bombilla sipping away just like we'd do a Timmies or Starbucks. Although I didn't try it (not sold in restaurants) they say it's bitter and an acquired taste. It certainly is a different way for getting your daily caffeine fix for sure!