Sensuous Guatemala: Pink
Pink has a reputation as a wimpy color, sort of weak and watery. You wouldn’t think pink could stand up strong and proud against the deep blues, rich greens, bright yellows and striking reds of the Guatemalan palette. Even by using the fancier French name rosé, pink wine is considered, well, sissy. Pink bows look cute on little girls, but wouldn’t be a grown-up’s color. Pink roses don’t seem to send the same passionate love message of deep-red, long-stemmed beauties.
Pink seems to be improving in its reputation. Pink-and-gray outfits for men are back on European fashion houses’ runways. Rosé wines are gaining new respect. And pink opens almost every day in Guatemala. Get up at sunrise to see for yourself, and to appreciate the light, deeper and elegantly rich pinks of our dawns. No color could be richer than a sky-full of pink at la aurora.
Not that pink has ever been dismissed as wimpy around here. The women of Totonicapán have always woven pink ribbons in their black hair, and they always look strong and confident. Men in several of the villages around Lake Atitlán combine pink and blue without embarrassment in their traditional outfits, mirroring the pink sparkles on the blue waters. Up among the highest peaks of the Cuchumatanes near the Mexican border, the Kanjobal of Salomá wear a long, white tunic with pink, blue, green and gold bands forming collars. Their tunics, similar to those of the Lacondones across into Mexico but enhanced with those color bands, may be the closest dress still around to that of their ancient Maya forebears.
In the famous weaving town of San Antonio Aguas Calientes, pink bands are used to separate the stronger colors in the weavers’ complicated brocades. And in the thick wool blankets produced by the male weavers of Momostenango, little pink animal designs join those in blue and gold. The blanket-weavers learned decades ago to tone down the red achiote dye from little bugs, blending the dye with alcohol to make the pink figures on the natural white wool of their ponchos. The lanolin-heavy blankets make excellent spreads for bedrooms back home, with the pink animal designs marching along the edges.
Pink primroses edge our gardens year-around, and a hearty oleander tree with deep pink blossoms would take over our terraza if we didn’t keep chopping it back. A pink antherium manages to hold its own between our white and deep-red bushes. The pink rose next to our fountain has the most profuse perfume of all our bushes, and pink fuschia drape our patio to tempt visiting hummingbirds. And, of course, there are the pinks themselves— the button-sized blossoms that look like preschool-age carnations. Pinks are bought cheaply by the armload in the markets and last many days in vases around the house in proof that pink is proud to be in Guatemala. Pink is wimpy? No way!