When the Spaniards conquered the Mayans of Guatemala during the 1700s, they imposed a fashion code upon the villages surrounding Lake Atitlán. They forced the women to wear blue if they came from San Antonio Palopó, and the other villages followed suit in purple, red and green. The Spaniards thought that by color-coding the villagers they could recognize any illicit assemblies that might lead to insurrection. It was an early form of racial profiling.
My friend Vicki Foster was appalled by the fashion dictatorship that has endured as a tradition. Her husband Dave gave her a blue outfit for Mother’s Day that she resisted at first. As she settled into the community, though, the idea grew on her. It made it easy to choose the right pickup truck to climb aboard between Panajachel and San Antonio. Simply choose the one where the natives wear blue.