In Praise of the Guayabera

When you love something, it’s easy to write poetry in its honor

For some time now, I’ve been thinking about sharing a post that would express my love for the guayabera, a shirt typically worn in tropical climates, especially in Spanish-speaking places around the Caribbean, consisting of multiple pockets, pleats, and buttons. But what would I say about it that hasn’t already been said? Although there is some discussion about whether it was born in Cuba or Mexico, a lot of sites provide detailed historical information about the garment. The best I could do would be to write about my personal love affair with the guayabera, which started in the late 1990s as I admired the ones worn by my Cuban professor at Marquette University, Dr. Armando González-Pérez. He was coincidentally with me during my first trip to Veracruz, Mexico in back 2002, where I discovered a small store called Guayaberas Finas Cab that was featured in a travel guide I had. I’ve bought a sizable collection of guayaberas there throughout the years. It’s a quirky shop that includes a framed letter to the store from former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who thanked them for their fine guayaberas. I thought about writing about that place, but I don’t have any digital photographs of the store, and I found another site that describes it better than I probably could.

Me with my favorite guayabera in Xalapa, Mexico, ca. 2002.

Nonetheless, I wanted to share with my fellow Hispanophiles my love for the guayabera. And when you express these sorts of feelings, what better way to do it than through poetry? So, what follows are some original haikus about this unique and beautiful shirt. Why the haiku? Why not? The simplicity of the form intrigues me, I suppose. Some are in English, others in Spanish or Spanglish. These are meant to be amusing, and they’re certainly unpolished. There are a couple verses I had to use some poetic license on to get the right amount of syllables. Hopefully they’re good for a laugh, if nothing else!

I.

The wind tickles me
under my guayabera,
air conditioned shirt.

II.

Buttons and pockets,
both formal and informal,
no need to tuck in.

III.

I don't mind the heat;
I have my guayabera.
Pastel, linen bliss.

IV.

The guayabera
makes everybody smile; it's
not just for old guys.

V.

Hot and humid nights,
watching béisbol, wearing my
blue guayabera.

VI.

My hands are so free,
yet I'm carrying a lot.
I have four pockets.

VII.

Naranja, piña y
pera: son los tonos de
mi guayabera.

VIII.

Como una nube,
el lino suave flota
sobre mi piel.

IX.

¿Esta alegría?
Te comparto el secreto.
La guayabera.

X.

Mejor desnudo
que usar ropa que no sea
la guayabera.

Haikus about guayaberas are so easy to write, they almost write themselves. Share one with us in the comments below. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on your favorite social media. ¡Gracias!

4 thoughts on “In Praise of the Guayabera

    1. They really are the perfect shirt, Rebecca. I’m going to have to research Guayabera Jack’s next time I’m in Mérida. (I spent a summer there a few years ago, but I can’t believe I never came across it.) Thanks for visiting and commenting. ¡Saludos!

      Liked by 1 person

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