Welcome to Colombia's weird Willys festival
Jason Barlow heads to South America, where overloaded classic Jeeps do wheelies in the street
Posted: 05 Feb 2014
No kidding. After 20 minutes, the parade ceases being a spectacle and becomes surreal. El Gran Gatsby, a Jeep covered in books, goes by. One has a makeshift raft on the roof. There is a pole-dancing Jeep. Another is draped in chapoleras, the name given to the girls who pick the coffee beans. Apparently, the flavour of the coffee depends on how delicately the bean is taken off the coffee plant, something women are vastly more skilful at than men. Natalia, from a local Jeep dealer, gives me a running commentary. "The most common sight is the coffee one. That's normal. Even now, when they move house the people here use their Jeeps rather than a removal company. And because there is no public transport system in the mountains, Jeeps are an informal taxi service. Believe me, I have seen everything."
The pique started when the coffee growers loaded so many sacks of coffee beans onto their Jeeps that the inevitable happened. But even on two wheels, the little Jeeps still moved. After that, somebody was bound to start showing off, and now pique is a highly competitive Colombian specialty. As the climax to Yipao, half a dozen of these dudes are doing their thing. But Pesebre is clearly The Man. Being led through the parade to meet him is like going backstage at Wembley for an audience with Keith Richards. Every few hundred yards or so, he does the spin, wheeling out the equivalent of a guitar solo. How he's learned how to do this without killing himself, I have no idea. I'm not sure he does, either.