Last night while speaking with my wise father, we somehow got onto the subject of colour. Now, I believe there are colour people and then there are people that prefer something a bit more neutral. You know the ones, the ones that always wear black and their houses are painted beige. Everything is beige. Don't get me wrong it's very elegant and if that is what you like then I am very happy for you. Me, I'm a colour person through and through. I adore it. I wear it, I paint it, I photograph it - in fact I even teach it in my Photography class, so to me colour is one of the joys of life.
Thank goodness for that because living in Guatemala colour is everywhere. It is a way of life and huge part of their culture. Bold and beaded colourful frocks worn by the Mayan women you pass on the street in every colour of the rainbow is a daily occurrence. Flowers of every shade are in businesses, homes, hotels, cafés, you name it. Ladies walk the streets selling flowers carrying them all wrapped up in gigantic bundles on their heads, so every time you walk through a doorway there is colour to bless your eyes.
Even the streets are full of colour as you can see. If you were a neutral person you might find this a little overwhelming at first, but me, the colour queen, I adore it. There is something about strolling along cobblestoned streets, turning a corner and having your entire field of vision filled with sky blues, vivid reds and every variation of yellow you can think of from the deep terracotta earthy tones to the light mustards, ambers and honeys. It is glorious.
As I said it is a way of life here in Guatemala, in fact all of Central America so naturally even the food is colourful. Doing your weekly fruit n veggie shop at the market you come across some striking edible wonders. For example - corn. Just plain old corn. Normally we see it as yellow right? No, not here. Here it is white, yellow, multicoloured, red and even blue. Yes, when you pass an open doorway and hear that familiar pat, pat, pat of the ladies making tortillas quite often you have a choice of white, yellow or even 'black' tortillas which are made from the different maize flours.
And so we don't forget the colour, they even make a green one! These clever ladies add a local plant called Moringa which is starting to gather momentum worldwide as a 'Superfood'. Funnily enough you don't really get red tortillas. Why? I don't know. As this is my favourite colour I've looked, trust me, but in all my travels all over Guatemala it is something that still eludes me. But if the fabled 'red tortilla' exists I will find it!
Every village in every district has their own unique patterns of fabrics and textiles etc so that covers the people of Guatemala but what about the animals? No I'm not talking about bright blue donkeys or hot pink horses, I'm talking about nature.
Not just the birds and pretty things, obviously the birds have colour the same as the rest of the world, but even the bugs do too.
Vivid green and gold cicadas, turquoise and green grasshoppers.
I've never seen bugs with such majestic colour before. Evolution is a marvellous thing, certainly making them harder to find on your jungle treks. But when one accidentally plops down in front of you it's breathtaking. That little cicada had me transfixed for a good while until I realised his wing was bent.
Can you see it? the top one. But before you say awwww, it's OK we stopped people from trampling him, straightened his wing out and he flew away right as rain to chirp another day. I like to think he's happily living his life with about a million little cicada babies right now. Happy and content. Yes, that is how my little cicada is... hey, don't judge, I'm a dreamer.
And if not then I will think 'happy thoughts' of kittens and puppies and baby chicks. Oh, speaking of which, when I went to the big Kite festival in Sumpango (I'll write another post for that one) they were selling baby chic's which you guessed it, were full of colour.
I'm not entirely sure of the purpose of adding food colouring to baby chic's but I will admit it made me stop.
Not harmful to the wee babes but a very good marketing strategy I must say because nearly every person that passed them stopped to oohh and aaahh over the gorgeous little souls.
Although I admit I did wonder how they got them such bright oranges, blues and pinks. I remember being bored one day and dyed my aunts small dog green with food colouring and old Harry didn't turn out half as well as these chic's.
Don't worry Harry was not harmed in any way, actually he loved his bath and the stealth it gave him sneaking up on the mailman that afternoon. He was so proud of himself as he finally got the drop on him.
So there you have it folks, colour glorious colour. I just wanted to share some of the colour and culture that surrounds me and I hope you love it as much as I do. Having said that, please don't go crazy and tie dye the dog, the neighbours cat or any other animals to get some colour in your life. Maybe buy a throw rug or pillow or something. Yes, that is a lot more adult and responsible.
Until next time, Adios Amigos!