The most amazing sight in Comalapa is the mural along the cemetery walls. But it is also a town of artists with many painted walls and galleries of local arts depicting village scenes in bright colors.
Many of the villages of Guatemala specialize in various arts and are peopled with artisans. I had come with some friends to Comalapa to visit the Perens, a family of artists that had won their hearts. In their gallery, the Peren men showed us their beautiful works, each painting telling its own story of village life and events. Themes of local traditions and festivals were painted what is known as naif style. The joys of their lifestyle comes through in these detailed and vivid tableaus.
The Sunday market was busy and colorful. Beyond the stalls in the marketplace, women sat on blankets on the dusty ground. The women wore huipiles, woven shirts, from different towns, unlike most villages where all the women wore variations on one design that identified the area. All of them, though, wore a similar pattern corte or wrap-around skirt. Most of the men in town sported cowboy hats. Sounds of the Kaqchikel language could be heard, the native tongue of the local Mayan people in this region.
We happened upon the annual meeting of the local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter (yes, they are international). An artist told me that for seventeen years he would paint half the day, then drink half the day. Two of his sons also were recovered alcoholics. When I met him, he was painting a series depicting the sad life of drinkers in the village.
The past and hopes for the future of the village were depicted in the cemetery mural. Starting with the dawn of time as described in Maya legends, the mural panels covered the corn growers and Mayan builders from precolonial times. The arrival of the Spanish brought death and destruction. The emergence of the church soon dominated South and Central American life. Heart rending images of killings and atrocities of the 1980s government-sponsored genocide decimated indigenous Guatemalan villages. People were pinned under their homes in more recent earthquakes. The mural images ended with doves of peace. On the other side of the gate, the mural continued with panels of hope and building blocks for what is to come: education, technology, reading, learning, children, and families.
Learn more about Oscar Peren, internationally exhibited artist of Comalapa.
Travel Photo Challenge answers
Where were those places? For those of you trying to “place” the photos from my last post, Travel Photo Challenge & Good Writer Talks, here are the answers:
Inukshuk, Hirtles Beach, Nova Scotia, Canada – a common symbol among First Nations people
Anapchi Pond, Gyeong-ju, South Korea – ancient capital of Korea and UNESCO World Heritage site
Blue-footed booby, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Panagia Angeloktisti, Church of the Seven Martyrs, Kastro, Sifnos, Greece – potters’ island
Taos Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico, USA
Dolphins, Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand – taken on a dolphin swim
Leopard, Timbavati, South Africa – adjacent to Kruger National Park
Textile woman, Plaza Central, Antigua, Guatemala
Stone lantern, Nikko, Japan – UNESCO World Heritage site
Sea wall, Dubrovnik, Croatia
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