Colombians have a great habit of holding on to the iconic inventions that decorate their past. The Willy is one of them, but perhaps even more symbolic of Colombian culture is the Chiva (which translates as ‘little goat’). Chivas are modified buses with benches for seats, there’s a ladder to the roof (used for carrying livestock), and there’s no need for windows or doors; you just climb on.
Traditionally these buses were used in rural areas to carry people and their livestock from place to place, but as Colombia developed, they were replaced by more efficient, faster buses. This could have meant the disappearance of this iconic part of Colombian history, but Colombians wouldn’t have that. Instead they came up with a new function for these colorful buses: Parties.
And party they do. Every weekend in coastal cities (and especially in Cartagena) Chivas are full to the brim with locals and foreigners looking for a good time. Many companies organize their own night-time Chiva tour which takes people around the city while a live band of musicians plays. Rum, coke and ice are all provided so you’re almost guaranteed to have a good time. More often than not, you’ll be taken to several nightspots around town in order to have a drink and a dance.
On a Cartagena city tour you’ll be taken to the city’s old wall, where a series of musicians play Latin-flavored music and street vendors wander around serving alcohol. There’s guaranteed to be a large group of locals dancing next to the band, so if you’re brave enough you’ll be able to strut your stuff on one of Colombia’s most iconic pieces of architecture.
Finally, you’ll be taken within the city walls to one of Cartagena’s lively nightclubs where you can throw shapes into the early hours of the morning – another of favoured cultural highlight in Colombia.