Love and pride and respect of native culture is rampant in Guatemala. I am tickled at the numerous times local shop owners, hoteliers, waiters and taxi drivers proclaimed to me that Guatemala is “the most beautiful country in the world and don’t I think so too”. It’s hard to argue with them. I can’t imagine any New Yorker insisting, unsolicited and without irony, that New York is the greatest place on earth, in every way. It should come as no surprise that there is a deep pride, too, in the regional products and design emanating from every corner of the country. Many of the shops employ, promote and support indigenous crafts, wealthier shop keepers sell traditional, local products and also seek to adapt these crafts to more modern design — all the while keeping the integrity of the culture intact. For an inveterate shopper like me, constantly on the lookout for products “I can’t buy in the US”, Guatemala is a bonanza of original and quality treats. Below is a small sampling of the souvenirs that came home with me.
Below from left to right: Guatemalan cocoa beans yield delicious organic chocolates; San Antonio Palapo produces this distinctive pottery; and, modern potters create work inspired by ancient gods.
Below from left: Colorful paintings abound in this “flattened out”, home grown style; hand loomed and dyed fabrics produce a clean take on traditional design; and, street markets yield a bonanza of colorful treats from baskets to sweets
Below from left: Woven fabrics can be found in many forms including these cocktail napkins; beeswax candles are both hand made and surprisingly “boho”; proceeds from the sale of these childrens’ items found in Santa Catarina Palopo support the nearby elementary school
Below from left: A hand woven and sewn apron has flecks of metallic thread typical of the region; no two woven cotton bowls are alike; and, you can visit the numerous coffee plantations where you can purchase truly freshly roasted coffee