October’s opal birthstone treats the eye with an explosion of colors refracted through the soft stone, just as Guatemala’s gardens explode with magnificent rainbows of flowers bursting vigorously as the rainy season eases. Guatemala rock hounds find significant deposits of precious opals here, but you can enjoy their bright bursts of color everywhere in the country without having to get your hands dirty in digging—just look around you.
Opals range from white and gray through red, orange, yellow, green, blue, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive, brown to black. Those vibrant colors are displayed throughout this land of eternal spring, in the hillsides, farms and gardens as well as in the Mayan weavings, colorful walls and bright coastline.
We’re told that opals are just sand, created by Paleolithic hot springs. Opals are soft, up to 30 percent water, each gem reflecting specific wavelengths. The clear and clean air of the Highlands doesn’t fuss with such limited wavelengths. Rainbow opal colors are everywhere here, changing like the gemstone in the range of light each day from dawn to dark.
And ah, that dark of Guatemala each night, if you get away from the big city. Around the lakes, along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, throughout Highland farmlands and hillsides, the velvety dark on moonless nights is as rich as any black opal. Drink in the soft colors of the night and the brilliant shades of day. You’ll see why another word for Guatemala is the opalescent land.