THE UNITED STATES, COLOMBIA AND A FAMOUS VEHICLE
In the Second World War the United States developed many technologies to help win the war, among them the atomic bomb, RADAR, and the jeep - a rugged vehicle which could resist extremely difficult weather conditions and topography. That type of 4x4 vehicle was named Willys, after it’s US manufacturer Willys-Overland.
In 1946 after the end of the war, the Colombian government and the Coffee Growers Federation of Colombia were looking for strategies to make coffee production more efficient and also to revitalize and diversify the Colombian economy. As a result, the Federation decided to acquire the post-war Willys and distribute them mainly in the coffee region, thus replacing the mule as a primary transport method and very appropriate for rough country roads.
Due to its power and endurance, Willys transported coffee and other agricultural products (often with 20+ people hanging on) but also it was considered a luxury vehicle for transport of the family owners on weekends. The central square (parque principal) of every town became a bona fide Willys´ car port. Willys soon became a considerable status symbol. In 1989 however, coffee prices plummeted due to a breakdown of the Federation’s International coffee agreement, a devastating blow for Colombian coffee economy. This soon lead to new and creative uses for the Willys.
While the legacy and culture of the Willys remained strong, many of them are nowadays working to transport tourists and local inhabitants from town to town, others have become collectible antiques, still others were adapted to sell “tinto” (brewed coffee) or agricultural products to village pedestrians, some simply provide high end ‘decoration” at town squares, roundabouts or other public places. In fact there is a group of Willys waiting with Travelongo Colombia for tourists like you to enjoy our World Heritage sites and splendid coffee cultural landscape.
Willys are a huge part of a festival every October during which Armenia celebrates its birthday (1889). The famous Willys parade, “Desfile del Yipao”, allows the many hard-working families, tradesmen and farmers to decorate their Jeeps and proudly demonstrate their culture and history. There are traditional dance performances and also dance-like maneuvers with the Willys that make for most interesting viewing.
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