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

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 silver through pewter to steel-gray, with misty curtains shading the volcanoes some days, or hiding them completely in dark velvet drapery. Photographers love to capture the reflective puddles on the cobblestones, while painters brush in the metallic tones seen in the skies. Then the sun breaks through, and the just-washed leaves and blossoms flash rich colors.

The odor of rain can be pungent when the soil first gets wet, then fresh and clean as the showers wash away any trace of unpleasant exhaust or dust. Occasionally there’s a whiff of burning wood from a fireplace, sometimes the special smell of cedar logs. Lightning displays add nitrogen to the soil and its unique ozone aroma to the nose. The scent of wet dogs or woolen clothing, the smell of tortillas or meat sizzling on a grill, the musky damp of laundry hanging limp on the line, each adds a touch to the seasonal odor around town.

The touch of rain on the face can be as gentle as a baby’s hand caressing a mother’s cheek, or as bracing as a high dive into a cold pool. The taste of rain can be refreshingly clean, as every child knows from sticking out his tongue to catch a few drops.

Ah, but it’s the sense of sound during rainy invierno afternoons that’s so very special around the town, light rain sounding like little bells, heavier rain like marimba from the rooftop, occasional kettle-drum tympani on the clay tiles overhead while you’re curled up inside by a gentle fireside with a good new book.

The rainy season can mess up traffic, bring some leaky roofs to drip into hastily placed pots, require tourists to scoot into a nearby shop until the shower eases up. But don’t let our invierno spoil your day. Tune on each sense and appreciate the metallic shades, the pungent smells, the wet touch, the restoring taste, the musical sounds of the season.

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