Friday, February 9, 2007

Things indigenous and colorful

I just finished catching up on Luke and Emily's blog. It's fantastic! They're in Guatemala, and reading about their adventures brings back so many memories of our time there....WAY back in 1974. That was the first trip that we all took together: Larry's parents and my parents and siblings. Mom and Dad had been on a trip to South America, and on the way back, when they landed in Guatemala City, the pilots went on strike. They ended up spending a week there right before Easter -- Semana Santa.

They fell in love with the place, and urged us all to go for Christmas. We did, and a tradition was born. I am SO grateful that Mom and Dad and Hank and Chloe (Larry's folks) became such good friends. Over the next years we had family holiday travel adventures in all sorts of neat places. But Guatemala was the first and the best.

Larry and I lived in Odessa, Texas, back in those days -- not exactly a garden spot of the world. When I saw Lake Atitlan I thought it was the most beautiful place on earth. There was a head-high hedge of poinsettias (nochebuenas) separating the little inn where we stopped from the lake. When I went back to the office after Christmas vacation, there was one droopy poinsettia on the receptionist's desk. I looked at and almost burst into tears, I wanted to go back so bad.

I remember the strong scent of copal being burned everywhere. It's a woodsy sort of smell, and I bought some incense sticks of it just the other day at our market here. It's a lot like piƱon in New Mexico. Guatemala means "place of the pine tree" and the smell of the woods came right into the heart of the city.

There was also color. The streets of Chichicastenango were awash in a sea of short Mayan bodies clothed in every strong color there is in the palette. I can't wait to see the pictures Luke and Emily post. In fact....down in the basement....I know I have a box of slides from that trip we took. Anyone know how to get images from slides to digital? (This blog is definitely a learning experience for me!)

Speaking of color, last Wednesday Larry and I went down to Sayulita to look for some handpainted tiles. We found them at Galeria Gypsy near the beach. Have a look at their website and smack your lips! Kelly owns the store, but her mom, Connie, is the buyer. She and her husband Barry (transplants from Santa Cruz, CA) had just returned from Guatemala the day before. They brought back a lot less stock than they'd planned because of that Quetzal crisis that Luke and Emily refer to. She said it was heartbreaking. They could not get printed money anywhere enough to pay the villagers, and the villagers had so much to sell!

So, Luke and Emily, Connie and Barry -- I'm thinking seriously about heading down to Ryan and Jessie's wedding in Antigua April 14. Larry rolls his eyes with that "so you're on the road again" look he gives me....he's invited, too, but the gypsy spirit is not in his blood. I'm going to call Connie now for the name of that pension near the coffee shops and bookstores in downtown Antigua......

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