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    21 Dec 2015

    Yipao: Colombia’s Bizarre Jeep Parade

    The Jeep is Colombia’s most iconic mode of transportation, especially in the coffee growing regions where farming is an integral part of life. These rugged vehicles are used by farmers to transport massive loads of cargo as well as people between towns located among the country’s hilly terrains.

    Willys Jeeps were first introduced in Colombia in 1946 following the end of Word War 2. The US Army had surplus Jeeps and parts from the war, which they began to sell to the developing countries at bargain prices. A large number of them were procured by the farmers in the Quindío Department of western Colombia. Prior to the introduction of the Jeep the main transportation in the mountainous topography was mules, which lead people to call Jeeps "mulitas mecánicas" or mechanical mules.
    Willys are the coffee region’s workhorses. Because of the vehicles’ robustness and versatile nature, they’re used to transport agricultural produce such as heavy loads of coffee beans, massive bunches of bananas, heaps of plantain, melons, milk jugs, chickens, and even household items like mattresses and bicycles. And they are always loaded to the top. Not only can the Willy manage all this, but it can navigate those steep hills in Colombia with ease. In some areas where there is no electricity, the Jeep’s running engine is used to power water pumps, and generators. The Jeeps, despite their age are still functioning and many still have their original parts.

    Every year, almost every small town in Colombia’s coffee growing region organize a parade called Yipao to celebrate this iconic vehicle. The word “yipao” means a fully-loaded Willy, and that’s exactly how the festival is celebrated. Every vehicle that takes part is loaded to the brim with everything the locals can get their hands on. A popular way of loading a Jeep for the parade is with furniture and antiques representing all of a family's possessions. The Jeep is loaded with so much weight that sometimes the front wheels barely touches the ground.

    The vehicles are driven by the main streets of the city and the Jeeps with the largest amount of objects carried and the most harmonious arrangements earn prizes.















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