Chivas & The Yipao – Traditional transport


(tourist chiva)

Chiva Buses (also known as escaleras) are old artisan modified buses used in rural Colombia for public transport and more recently used as party buses. These are varied but characterized for being painted colorfully (usually with the colors of the flag of Colombia) with local arabesques and figures. Most of the Chivas have an incorporated ladder for the rack on the roof which is also used for carrying people, livestock and merchandise.

La Chiva is built over a bus chassis with a modified body made out either metal or wood. Seats are bench alike, made out of wood and with doors instead of windows. The owner or driver usually give their Chiva a unique nickname.

(rural chiva)

The Yipao

The Yipao or Jeep parade is a folkloric celebration in the Colombian department of Quindío, specially during the anniversary parties of the departmental capital Armenia. The event has several categories separated according to the products carried in the vehicles:

  • Agricultural products
  • Coffee
  • Furniture
  • People
  • Institutional advertisement

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.

The first Jeeps arrived to Colombia in 1946 for military purposes. They were imported by the Colombian Ministry of Defense and soon became very popular among Colombian coffee farmers who saw in this vehicle the needed qualities for the difficult roads in the mountainous region of the country. Besides the transportation of coffee, Jeeps are used for transport many other agricultural products, as well as country workers to places previously accessible only to pack animals. Due to this quality, the Jeeps are also known locally in Spanish: “mulitas mecánicas” (or mechanical mules).

Many families in the Paisa region and Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis own Jeep vehicles, which have become a beloved symbol of the coffee culture. Often the Jeeps have many ornaments, icons, and flashy accessories, in a kitsch style.


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