Things I have learned from following sport (specifically from watching rally)

What that drink is in the rustic looking cup with the metal straw that they drink in Argentina.

See this video from Best Of Rally Live of shakedown for Rally Argentina 2013 – it opens with some atmosphere setting shots of a spectator pouring water onto some dried herbs in one of these cups, then we see shots of churro vendors, sausages and bread being sliced, and spectators drinking out of the distinctive cup through the distinctive metal straw.

So, what is that drink? It's Yerba mate. Which is a hot caffeinated drink made from the dried leaves of a species of holly that grows in South America. The gourd cup is called a mate, and the metal straw is a bombilla. The bombilla has a filter at the bottom end, to keep out bits of leaf and twig. There is an appealing ritual to the preparation of Yerba mate, involving much careful shaking of the gourd to ensure the leaves settle properly. One cup of yerba mate is often passed around several people, with each person drinking the whole cup before pouring fresh hot water on the leaves for the next brew. Correctly settled leaves allow for the drink to be of consistent strength and flavour over several brews, and also prevent the bombilla from becoming clogged with the smallest powdery bits of leaf.

And that's what the spectators were drinking on the stages as they waited for the cars to go past.

There is a German-speaking region of Belgium.

Originally, I thought that there were only two languages spoken in Belgium – French, and Flemish. I judged Flemish to be essentially the same as Dutch.

Turns out (turns out) that a small number of communities near the German border speak German.

I had wondered why, at stage ends, the rally radio reporters asked Belgian driver Thierry Neuville to give his answers in English and in German. I'd assumed that as a Belgian he spoke either French or Flemish as his native tongue, and from his accent when speaking English I further assumed it was Flemish (despite his given name being French). But recently, Mr Neuville posted a picture to his Instagram account of an essay/composition he'd done at school, unsurprisingly on the subject of rallying. Two things struck me at once. One, OMG would you just LOOK at the neat handwriting. Two, it's in German. It's in good, proper, mother-tongue German. Aha, so the world's fastest hipster is indeed a German speaker. I took the time to look up where it is Mr Neuville comes from – it's a place called Sankt Vith, which is in an official German speaking community of Belgium, where they all totally speak German. And I did not know that before.

 

  • Daniela

    As an Argentinian who drinks mate all day, I must say, I love the way you describe it! Have you ever tried it?

    Cheers!
    Dani