Tom enjoyed the color, sound, taste, touch and smell of Guatemala on his first visit last year, but suggests we’re missing one more important sense. Tom’s an artist from Atlanta, delighted by all he encountered here, but especially pleased to uncover a sense of timelessness in Guatemala.
Meanwhile, historian Elizabeth Bell’s mother came back to her home in La Antigua Guatemala after a 30-year absence. Alice Bell was astounded by the changes, delighted to find warehouse stores, cable TV, varied restaurants, cell phones, and rows of parked motorcycles among so many new attractions. She really appreciated the enhanced comforts of life here.
Who’s right? Both, of course. Antigua has changed since Alice left us for the States, and Antigua stayed the same for Tom’s first visit. Strip off the red and white soft drink and phone service signs and the centuries of adobe walls are unchanged. Let the breezes wash away the exhausts of modern traffic and the gentle Antigua air is as soft as ever. Forget the new one-way streets, parking permits, tourist novelties, and it’s the same Antigua. Timeless.
A sense of timelessness hangs in the air as the bells call for evening prayers, led as always by the Cathedral’s first ringing. Timeless odors of incense and of crushed pine needles float from Lenten processions. Slow drums pace those processions, as they have since well before Christian times. Colorful floral petals cover the cobbled streets in a timeless display of tradition.
Tom’s right. A sense of timelessness is right here, just behind the pizza delivery bikes and the merchants of fine wines, new features that pleased Alice obscuring but never hiding the traditional that attracted artist Tom’s eye. This season is the very best time to savor the new luxuries, while seeking the timeless traditions of Guatemalan life. Enjoy every bit.