Pitaya flower (photo by Thor Janson )

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 as the moon emerges after an evening shower, and as beams from colonial-style street lights twinkle in the evening mist.

Pearls are embroidered as white dot symbols on several different Indian weavings. Pearls shine in the breakers along our beaches, and in the seafoam on the sand as the waves recede. Pearls sparkle on the tall hotels downtown, when seen from the hillsides as room lights turn on. Pearls light the rolling countryside at night when seen from a plane on approach to La Aurora airport, pale strings of lights in villages and along roadways that wind through the mountains.

For visitors from areas that don’t have them, the tiny lights of fireflies in Guatemalan trees seem magical. At sundown, swirls of white herons, returning to their nesting tree after a day harvesting leftover corn kernels in the milpas, can shine like necklaces of fat pearls in the crown of the sky.

We do share with all Earth bright pearls in the nighttime skies. On a clear, moonless night in the Guatemalan Highlands, our evening and morning “stars” of Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, and all the constellations are especially lustrous against the velvet night. Come to think of it, the planets almost any night in Guatemala are prettier than any of the oyster pearls in royal crowns, and every one of us commoners can enjoy them.

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