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.

No beryl crystals are mined in Guatemala, but each of beryl’s shades is found all over the place. Especially aquamarine: See it in beryl-blue seacoasts, across clear Guatemalan skies, in the deep tones of aquamarine lakes set like gemstones between dark volcano cones.

Yes, aquamarine fits well in sensuous Guatemala. It’s a color easy to find everywhere—except in the flower stalls. Aquamarine-blue is rare in blossoms. However, this month some aquamarine-blue Dutch iris stems are on sale in the markets. Get them fast, and get them in fresh water quickly, for they don’t last long.
Aquamarine-blue tones are at our Caribbean beaches and sometimes in the Pacific. Aquamarine designs are in several huipiles, the typical blouses woven of cotton, a light blue touch that is created by dipping the thread quickly into indigo dyes, or by pouring tie-dye colors on twisted bundles of white thread stretched from spike to spike along roadways.

There’s a sea of aquamarine across the street from our house, a mile above the Pacific. But I don’t know if it counts as being very sensuous. A neighbor found some cheap aquamarine house paint, so he rolled it on the façade. Some was left over, so he rolled the bed of his elderly pickup truck with it. Still some left, so he painted the whole truck, dents and all, in aquamarine. When the truck is parked in front of the house, it’s hard to tell which is which. Not quite a glowing beryl crystal color, but certainly unique for sensuous Guatemala.

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