Sapphire

Butterfly by Thor Janson

Butterfly by Thor Janson

Sapphires sparkle all around you in Guatemala. Unlike some other gems that must be searched out, sapphires are overhead, underfoot, all around. You can easily bathe in deep, rich pools of sapphire. No, not the imported jewelry gems found in stores, but rather in nature throughout this “land of eternal spring.”

The Pacific and Caribbean coasts flanking Mesoamerica offer expanses of sapphire water, though the Highland lakes—especially deep-blue Atitlán—are gems of even deeper blue. Sapphires are scattered among the emerald grasses along highways, points of wildflower color that bloom after showers all year. In the markets, sapphire mums, lilies and statice are in floral stalls most months. Along the highway, startling sapphire storefronts are spotted while driving through villages, a paint color recently popular for schools, clinics, and even church facades. Our neighbor even painted his old pickup with the same sapphire he used to paint the front of his house.

Many of our favorite weavings by talented indigenous artisans include floral ornaments in sapphire, and some blouses around the Ixchel region are mostly rich blues. Pre-Columbian weavers found sapphire dyes in nature long before German traders began importing aniline dyes into Central America in the 1880s. They had discovered roots that gave their thread sapphire tones when boiled together.

Ah, but the richest sapphires are overhead, sometimes covered with curtains of fluffy clouds that part to unveil stunning blue skies. The heavenly sapphire of the Guatemalan sky is deep along the coasts, deeper when climbing into the Highlands, and deepest in the high mountain country of the Cuchumatanes and in Alta Verapaz. Parts of the world boast of being “big sky country;”

Guatemalans accept the sapphire skies and seas as part of their year-round pleasures. Enjoy it with them whether you’ve just visiting or living in this gem of a country.

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