I love that moment on a plane when you begin your final descent into a new country and you catch that first glance down onto foreign soil. What are the colors? How is the light? What does the landscape look like? I’ll never forget watching the sunrise over the flat dusty plains as I touched down in Africa, or seeing the Patagonian glaciers of Chile streaked in time. Looking at Guatemala from that little frame, I was enchanted with the layers of volcanoes dancing along the horizon line of a setting sun.
It was just a weekend getaway, a short stop through Antigua, one of the most beautiful and romantic places I’ve ever seen. We didn’t have time to wander around, but I swore I would come back someday to photograph it and stay at the heartbreakingly beautiful Meson Panza Verde. We had a late dinner there on our last night in Guatemala where I discovered its enchantment. From there, we ventured around the lakeside town of Panajachel where the fashion accessory brand Mercado Global‘s design offices are located. The purpose of this trip was to discover the craftsmanship behind these artisanal bags. We spent a little time in Santiago Atitlan and in the hillside town of Santa Catarina Palapo where we slept in a dream villa.
I have many takeaways from Guatemala. The fruit is incredible. The people, so petite, have beautiful traditions they keep despite the reach of globalization. I loved comparing their dress to how the Peruvian women dress, each in their specific way. The colors in their clothing are mimicked in the textiles of the market and in the lush landscape, bursting with flowers in hues of sherbet orange and hot fuchsia. As we wandered through the old colonial built towns, there was the distinctive sound of women’s hands patting out corn tortillas. I’ll never forget the way they tasted hot off the griddle. I loved how drivers would honk as a courtesy, a way to say thank you. Perhaps my favorite feature of this beautiful country though are her volcanoes. It had not been since Bali that I found myself gazing upon such a scene. Every day brought a new view: sometimes we spotted smoke billowing from the top of a volcano, sometimes we admired their silhouettes against a setting sun. I found them a constant reminder that the earth is alive beneath our feet, and as I stood in Guatemala, I was reminded of how alive I am, too.