Guatemala’s Season of Aromas

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SENSUOUS GUATEMALA by Ken Veronda. The spice and smoke aromas, the sweet and pungent, hot cocoas and burned punk, fruit punches and sugary eggnogs, odors that harmonize with all we’re seeing, hearing, tasting, touching. Cedar and chocolate, cinnamon and corn, breathe deep and enjoy this holiday time of rich aromas in the air. The pungent pine needles on market floors, […]

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Swirls Of Colors in Guatemala

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Sensuous Guatemala by Ken Veronda. During election time in Guatemala political parties display their colors and logos big and small, with supporters dressed in party T-shirts (playeras), waving posters and signs with party designs. Red, white, blue and green compete in this month’s run-offs after 15 other presidential candidates and scores of local office-seekers were eliminated, but their logos and […]

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Independence Day Celebrations in Guatemala

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by Ken Veronda. Any good excuse is a good time for celebration, of course, but September holds a special one: Independence Day on the 15th, but the sounds, smells, tastes and sights are to be enjoyed all month. There are rich colors to see in this rainy season, with landscape lush; sweet tastes to enjoy, of fresh fruit and mellow […]

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Sensuous Guatemala: TILE

by Ken Veronda No, not floor or wall tiles, nor mosaics. Not bath tiles or tiles used for games. Tiles can be of ceramic, stone, metal, glass. Not these. I’m talking roof tiles, the Spanish Mission or barrel tile with the curved surface, an old idea brought here by the European conquerors who started making them with local clays, fired […]

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Tony

Tony’s tuned up and ready to begin his annual concert series for you to enjoy this month and on into May. Tony has been resting, eating well and repairing his home the last few months while studying his musical scores. Shortly before dawn one morning soon, you will hear him warming up for his season of song. You can’t miss […]

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Touch

We’ve badly neglected touch as we’ve written these monthly comments about experiencing the five senses in this marvelous land. We see the colorful countryside, gardens and weavings. We hear the church bells, the firecrackers, and student bands drumming in the streets. We smell the coffee and chocolate aromas, and we taste the fresh foods from farms and markets around us. […]

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Peach

Peach

Peach tastes and peach tones are challenging to find in Guatemala, but it’s worth taking the challenge and seeing what you can discover. Peach tones—those orangy, reddish, yellowish, pale shades that decorators like—aren’t around gardens or weavings as are so many brighter colors. Luscious peach fruit and juice are in our markets, but not all that common, which is a […]

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At the end of the Rainbow Violet

Violet is the color at the bottom of the rainbow’s arc, the color of royalty, bishops, and Lent, on Newton’s color wheel with red and green. Violet was one of eight colors in the first crayon boxes, though today violet is demoted and found only in the largest boxes. Violet is sweet perfume, and sometimes violet flowers are a touch […]

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Pyrotechnics

You discovered how Guatemalans enjoy pyrotechnics the first morning you awoke before dawn to strings of pops and loud booms. Nothing serious happening, just friends celebrating a birthday or anniversary. That evening you may see fireworks from next door or across town, from a fiesta, concert, or just having fun. Fireworks are for any old day, not just for independence. […]

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Balsam of Peru

They’re in bloom now, and the sweet but spicy aroma is easy to recognize a block away. Beautiful specimens of this tall tree are in many parks throughout the country, the purple blossoms hanging from the rich green branches. They’re not from Peru, but Guatemala, though this handsome tree—officially Myroxylon Pereirae—grows throughout Central America. Don’t confuse it with other balsams, […]

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Timeless

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 […]

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Which Sense?

Poinsettias are native to Mesoamerica (Rudy Girón)

Holidays in Guatemala bring overwhelming input to all five senses, even more than any other time of the year. So which sense should we highlight for December? The dazzling sunlight, velvety nights, brilliant colors of holiday decorations, lush plants in every color, give evidence that the sense of sight is primary. Deep red pascuas, poinsettias to the gringos; golden bougainvillea […]

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Pumpkin

No frost on the pumpkin in Guatemala. No frost anywhere in this springtime-all-year land, except atop the highest mountain chains. Not many pumpkins, either, though the plant is native to Central America, and many are grown on the south coast and lowlands. Pumpkins are cooked and eaten here like other squash, as a vegetable, but rarely in pies or sweets. […]

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Ash

Cenizas (photo: Nelo Mijangos - nelomh.com)

Appreciating ash requires more sensitivity than enjoying most of Guatemala’s dazzling colors. Steel-gray, dull, plain old ash seems uninteresting. Worse, read in your novel that “his face turned ashen,” and you know there’s big trouble ahead. Cleaning up ash from floors and furniture isn’t much fun after breezes sift some of the volcano’s recent burps indoors. Ash gets even more […]

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Candy-Apple Red

Candy-Apple Red

The proud owner of a candy-apple-red 1970s Camaro can sometimes be spotted cruising zones nine and ten of the Big City, but most Guatemalan car paint isn’t quite so flashy. However, that deep metallic candy-apple paint, with a transparent coat setting it off, does show up in other places around the country that you can search out easily. Look into […]

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Pine

The clean, crisp, fresh, familiar scent of pine, from long and short needles gathered and bundled to be scattered on shop and café floors, is an aroma found year-around in Guatemala businesses and homes. This month more than ever, pine forms a large part of the rich odors of the Lenten season. Before the scores of processions wind through cobbled […]

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Sights and Sounds of Christmastime in Guatemala

Ventas navideñas de los campos del Roosevelt (photo by Roberto Urrea)

Christmas colors in Guatemala don’t stop with red and green, and dreams of a white Christmas must also include the entire rainbow. Yes, the brilliant red poinsettias and fragrant green pine needles, the ripe red berries and deep green leaves of the coffee trees, give all Central America the traditional Christmas colors of much of the world, but holidays in […]

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Spices

Spices

Spices are important in Guatemalan cooking, especially in many sweets and drinks around the holidays. Spice colors are rich in the landscape this month also, which seems fitting as spices were what the Europeans sought when they first sailed west to bump into these shores. Guatemala produces some spices, but joins the rest of the world in adding clove, cinnamon, […]

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Opal

Rainbow opal

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 […]

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Drums

Tambores (photo: Leonel Mijangos - EnAntigua.com)

Loud, proud bass drumbeats in school parades; sad, slow beats of mourning in funeral processions; rapid, staccato snare drum ruffles accompanying glockenspiel chimes: Drums are part of human culture worldwide, but Guatemalan drumbeating is especially vigorous, more than ever in this month of patriotic celebrations. Archaeologists have uncovered many pieces of unadorned drums in digs into the oldest of Mayan […]

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Rain

Lightning storm approaches Antigua from the west (photo: Guido Lucci)

INVIERNO, winter, is here. It’s the rainy season, and all our senses know it, even though most days still have lots of sunshine in the Guatemalan Highlands around La Antigua Guatemala, and temperatures continue to be mild. Drizzles, showers, deluges, each day’s touch of rain is different, something for all five senses. The colors of our rain shade from light […]

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