Traditions of Argentina are blended with those of Kauai in yerba mate teas handmade in Anahola, and that’s just one of the creations coming from renaissance woman Sol Jodurcha.
Model, designer, tea-maker and bellydancer, Jodurcha goes by “Sol Love.” She’s been living on Kauai for five years and has been dancing since she was a child and mixing herbs for sale since 2013.
Born in Argentina, Jodurcha came to Kauai when she was 21, during the last two months of a backpacking trip that was sparked by a 2012 surfing accident in Costa Rica.
She was living in Florida at the time, where she moved to attend Barbizon USA Modeling School, and the surfing accident prompted her to leave the state to explore the world.
“After my backpacking trip, I left for eight months and Kauai decided to call me back,” she said. “I still love modeling. I’ve been doing it ever since school.”
In between photo shoots, Jodurcha finds time to infuse a childhood tradition into her world, and make a little cash while she’s at it, with Sol Yerba Mate, a company created in 2013.
The tradition predates Spanish colonization of South America, and some of the earliest documentation of its use was by the Guarani people who used it medicinally. Other stories point to yerba mate being a stable for the Argentine Gauchos, or cowboys, as well as native populations who used it as sustinance during times of drought.
The drink is consumed using a gourd and a bombilla, or a filter-like straw, which is prepared before the mate ceremony.
The nourishing power of the brew and its multifaceted health benefits for the body solidified mate’s place within Argentine culture, and within Jodurcha’s family. When she started blending her own on Kauai, though, she decided to add in a few extras.
Local lemongrass, mint, chamomile, lemon, ginger and hibiscus are blended with traditional mate for several varieties. It is hand blended and packaged in Anahola and she touts it as “awakening in a cup.”
“Sol Yerba Mate ‘soul awakening in a cup’ was created when I decided to start blending and creating my own mixtures together at home in Haena,” Jodurcha said. “Our tea is special because we combine local herbs grown on Kauai with the original mate flavor grown in Argentina.”
She sells the tea blends at art walks, farmer markets, and online, as well as occasionally through coffee and tea trucks throughout the island.
Her mate gourd is filled often and it’s something she keeps around for her own for health, as tradition, for community, and now, as a small business.
“I have been drinking mate since I was a little girl,” Jodurcha said. “It is a big tradition in my country and we sit around the table and drink it.”
A person called the El Sevador serves out portions of the tea, Jodurcha said, and it’s known as a health drink that boosts overall well-being, as well as “a great excuse to get together with family and friends.”
“When it’s your turn to drink, you drink the whole thing and pass it back to the person who is serving and so on it goes around the table,” she said. “These herbs contain great beneficial properties for the body, mind and soul.”
Bellydance was another childhood fixture for Jodurcha, and now she dances with Sudeeka, a local professional belly dance group.
“I started studying bellydance when I was a young girl in Argentina and I’m a certified bellydancer and Zumba instructor. I love to dance, it brings be back to my roots.”
The Sudeeka dancers meet at the Golden Lotus Studio in Kapaa, and the dancers perform tribal bellydance
Crochet is another passion that Jodurcha likes to explore — in fact she says she “loves to crochet everything,” and she has another small business selling handmade crochet bikinis.
Marketed as boho swimsuits, the handmade pieces are woven using a mixture of yarn and shells to create beachwear that she describes as practical, beautiful and comfortable.
“I make a lot of the stuff myself, but now I have help. I have a crew of people helping me make them in Southeast Asia. Many (pieces) are being made in Bali,” she said. “I do this part time and I’m hoping to expand it to a full-time gig.”
When she’s not blending herbs, modeling her own bikinis and other designs, or dancing with Sudeeka, Jodurcha gives back to the island through beach cleanups.
“I’ve participated at some other new cleanups, but I have been focusing on having my own and building up a good crew,” she said.
She started the Kala Mahina Movement in 2016, with the purpose of doing just that. With that group, Jodurcha visits as many of Kauai’s beaches as she can, rotating through once a month and cleaning up marine debris. Cleanups are posted at http://www.kalamahinamovement.com.
“We go wherever we see a lot of built-up trash, so that depends upon the swell because trash washes up on different beaches depending on that,” she said.
This year, Jodurcha is focusing on expanding her businesses, as well as focusing on her creative passions and travel.
“I love to see our people and children play on clean beaches. I’m always learning and I see Planet Earth as the great library, (and) dancing allows me to feel freedom and liberation. It is my passion.”
Written for The Garden Island Newspaper January 14, 2018. Photos submitted by Sol Love.