Aquamarine

Aquamarine (photo: Matt Bokor)

One of this month’s birthstones is beryl, a simple colorless crystal in its pure form. But Guatemala is never colorless, so to celebrate May we must find some impure beryl, which gemologists tell us can be green, blue, yellow, red, white. Whatever, it’s still beryl, with different names. Let’s go find this month one crystal from the impure-beryl list: aquamarine. […]

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Kaleidoscopic Days

Kaleidoscopic Days photo by César Tián

A fellow in Scotland coined the name and invented that mirrored tube he called the kaleidoscope, an “observer of beautiful colors.” We don’t need his device to see swirls of beautiful colors that form our sensuous Guatemalan kaleidoscope all year. Color, sound, aromas, tastes and touch are especially strong throughout Lent, from confetti and fireworks at the start, then through […]

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Chocolate

Chocolate

Chocolate is coming back home to Central America, good chocolate at last. The cacao plant has been cultivated here for at least three millennia, the bean used as beverage and a food ingredient. Archaeologists found evidence of cacao cultivation at sites dating back to 1400 BC, with carvings of Maya enjoying the frothy, bitter drink. Spanish conquerors took chocolate to […]

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Sensuous Guatemala: Enjoy Your Valentine

Ignore the deep sky-blue, the forested green Highlands, the foamy ocean surf, the coffee browns, the rich oranges and yellow lemons stacked high in market stalls. This month, drink in Guatemala’s Valentine colors—bright reds, soft pinks, pure whites. Valentine reds are long-stemmed roses in the markets, bougainvillea spilling over walls, poinsettias still in bloom from the holidays, brilliant scarlet huipiles […]

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Pearl

Pitaya flower (photo by Thor Janson )

Pearls are scattered across this favored country, ready for your discovery without your needing to bother getting wet or even opening an oyster. Our pearls can be found along roadways, wildflowers of translucent white that bloom most of the year, and in our gardens, from tiny white buttons of blossoms to creamy white roses. Pearls glisten on our cobbled streets […]

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Sapphire

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 […]

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Emerald

Quetzal (photo: Thor Janson)

Yes, emeralds are found in our jewelry stores, but only imported gems. Emerald, however, is a rich sight in the Highlands of Guatemala, especially now with the rainy season polishing the leaves and enriching the grasses. And yes, we’ve our own emerald stones too, the deep imperial of Guatemala’s very special jadeite jewelry, but it’s the deep green tones of […]

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Be My Valentine

Antigua Guatemala Roses

Our town of La Antigua and the Guatemalan Highlands send valentines to their lovers this month through each of the senses. Elegant long-stemmed red roses go out from local growers to all Europe and the Americas, and the roses not exported fill the markets for local romantics. Rich red bougainvillea vines spill over the white walls, dainty red fuchsia hang […]

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Find the Heliotrope

Heliotrope plant (photo by Hubert J. Steed)

Here’s a challenge for November — find the heliotrope. It’s there, around us, hidden among the rainbow of prolific colors in the Guatemalan spectrum, in weavings, on some walls, along the roadways. I said heliotrope, mind you, not fuchsia, indigo, lilac, mauve, periwinkle, or any of those other shades of violet that are also to be found in the Highlands. […]

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Blue and White

Free into the wind —Rudy Girón

Free into the wind, your beautiful flag marks a happy month of national celebration just as Guatemala’s national anthem proclaims. Blue and White are the colors of the flag, with fresh flags and blue-and-white bunting on display all over “Guatemala Feliz,” happy Guatemala, as we near mid-month and Independence Day.  The new flags are indeed a beautifully clear blue and clean white, as are the […]

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Tune In and Enjoy

Metropolitan Cathedral in the center of Guatemala City (photo: Jordan Banks)

First, find a comfortable bench right in the middle of things, in front of the old National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral in the center of Guatemala City. Close your eyes. Don’t look at the rich palette of colors around you. (Maybe it’s best to have dark glasses on, so passers-by don’t think you’re asleep.) Don’t sniff. Don’t breathe in the delicious odors of […]

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Sensuous Guatemala: Pink

Pink sunset over Lake Atitlán (photo: Harris and Goller/viaventure.com)

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 […]

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Tweets

Twittering is nothing new for Guatemala. Long before North America or even Europe were very civilized, the ancient Maya were sending twitterrific tweets around Mesoamerica. Archaeological digs in Pre-Columbian sites encounter thousands of the clay tweeting devices they used. The tweeters were later carried back to Europe by Cortez and his gang and renamed “ocarinas” by the Italians, who then, […]

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May Flowers

Up in northern latitudes, folks get so excited when the first crocus breaks through the snow or when a scrawny poinsettia plant lasts past the holidays. Our British gardening friends bubble with joy when they spot mayflowers, even if those simple flat blossoms are usually a month or two late. After consulting seed catalogs all winter, Nordics nurse their little […]

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Sensuous Guatemala: Semana Santa

Semana Santa (photo: leonel mijangos/enantigua.com)

Colorful carpets, thumping bands, pungent odors, rich tastes, thick crowds—through the Lenten season, into Palm Sunday and Semana Santa, Holy Week, all five senses are overwhelmed in every Guatemalan city and village, but nowhere more than in La Antigua Guatemala with its colonial traditions and frequent processions. Intricate floral designs, forming colorful alfombras, carpets, are most elaborate on Good Friday […]

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Sensuous Guatemala: Red

Red Flowers (photo: Smith and Riegel)

Just a little dab of red will do you, if you’re trying to put the colors of Guatemala on canvas. You’d need lots of variations of blues, greens, and browns to capture the subtle shades of this country’s glorious Highlands, jungles and coastlines. Your pallet needs only a bit of red. But don’t forget the red, as it’s essential.  Red can be frustrating, such as a red […]

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Sensuous Guatemala: Holiday Mélange

Guatemalan Christmas Season Vistas (photos: Rudy Girón/rudygiron.com)

Red and green are the traditional holiday colors around the world, including Guatemala. Here, however, sight is not the only sense involved in the year-end celebrations. Pungent odors and delightful tastes combine with vivid colors and sweet sounds in a multi-sensory holiday mixture. Bells ring with special joy, carolers sing, marimbas play the music of the season throughout the Highlands […]

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Sensuous Guatemala: Yellow

Yellow corn (photo Harris & Goller/viaventure.com)

Butter yellow. Flowers in the fields after the rains, corn ground to a smooth masa, cotton-dyed yellow to weave into blouses with multicolored designs on the yellow base, rich yellow bougainvillea and shrimp flowers spilling over white walls, and an occasional flash of a finch flying after a bug for lunch. Yellow is important on the Guatemalan palette. Yellow may […]

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Sensuous Guatemala: Independence Celebrations!

Independence Day Celebrations by Rudy Girón

The steady beat of the marching drum, the somewhat-less-steady march of student footsteps along the cobblestone, the sudden thump of a mortar, a shell climbing to burst into multicolors of celebration. Any good excuse is a good time for celebration, of course, but September holds a special one: Independence Day on the 15th, and the sounds, smells, tastes and sights […]

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