Santa Catarina Palopo

Santa Catarina Palopó provides an odd mix of deep-seated Cakchiquel tradition and sumptuous luxury in the vacation homes outsiders have built on the fringes of this small town. You'll be surrounded by the brilliant blues and greens of huipils worn by local women as you walk down the cobblestone streets of this picturesque town. (Interestingly enough, the women used to wear predominantly red huipils, but an influx of tourists in the 1960s requesting turquoise blouses caused the local women to change their traditional dress and adopt the gringafied turquoise color scheme.) This is one of the few places in the highlands where men retain traditional dress; their clothing echoes the geometric designs seen in women's huipils. From here you'll be treated to magical views of the trio of volcanoes that loom over the lake. In Santa Catarina you'll see ramshackle homes standing within sight of luxury chalets whose owners arrive as often by helicopter as they do by car.

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