I already have visiting Colombia on my bucket list, but seeing this just bumped it up even higher. In the town of Calarcá, Quindío and the department’s capital, Armenia, there is a five day Jeep parade every June. The annual tradition has been going since 1988 and is listed in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the longest Jeep parade. You see, in the Coffee Triangle of Columbia, the locals worship an unlikely icon, the Willys Jeep, America’s military vehicle of choice during World War II. Every year in the small town of Quindío, there’s a big folkloric parade celebrating the utility vehicles, loaded with (literally) everything but the kitchen sink. They call them “Yipaos” (loaded Jeeps) and they have become the beloved symbol of this region since they were first imported to the country in the 1940s. Take a closer look at this slightly odd but very charming Colombian tradition.
The “Yipao” is a significant part of daily life in this corner of the world, where they rule the unpaved roads of Colombia’s coffee mountains carrying large groups of people, piles of coffee bags, harvested produce, livestock, you name it and they transport it.
In the older and smaller towns, it’s a common tradition for families moving their house to pile everything they can onto one Jeep and do it all in one single trip.
They’re also known in Spanish as “mulitas mécanicas” (mechanical mules) because they allow the country’s farmers access and transport to places previously accessible only to pack animals.
For many Colombians in Quindío, their livelihoods depend on these sturdy little Jeeps and so, they decided to pay homage to their four-wheeled friends with an annual Yipao parade.
And in case you hadn’t made the connection yet, the “Yip” in “Yipao”, comes from the locally adopted pronunciation of “Jeep”.
Every summer, hundreds of Jeeps descend upon the towns for the parade, all of them loaded with different things that are meaningful in the region.
The parade is also a contest to see who can load the most onto their jeeps.
No really, an actual contest with several divisions and prizes for the winners in each category.
That is a lot of corn.
There is something you won’t see in Moab, Utah.
This one is from my favorite category, the pique contest.
There are four categories in all.
They are all pretty fun.
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