Chivas in Antioquia
Colorful Chivas provide vibrant transportation from rural areas to big cities in Colombia’s Andes. (Photo by Carlos Pineda)

The Chiva is the colourful and tenacious workhorse of the Colombian countryside. In remote and challenging areas, they represent more than four wheels, but a time-tested mode of transport.

They are also an essential part of rural folklore, rumbling along dirt tracks with visual narratives painted on roof and sidings.

The Chiva was inspired by the American boxcar and European train carriage. Its birthplace in Colombia was Medellín, around the turn of the last century, when they began moving people and produce from towns such as Filandia, Jardín and Jericó to the industrializing capital of Antioquia.

The Chiva expanded across the country and today they continue with their mission to be a vital lifeline for farmers reaching rural markets.

They are also part of the community experience, traversing lush landscapes with passengers perched on rickety wooden benches, taking in the cool morning air from open frame windows. When there’s no room inside, a roof offers spectacular views.

Photographer Carlos Pineda has been documenting theses iconic and increasingly endangered beasts of burden. In this picture, three emblematic Chivas of the coffee region cross the foothills of the central Cordillera between the towns of Andes and Cascajero.

And despite the onslaught of modernity, the Colombian Chiva continues to be part of our moving memory in timeless and vibrant landscapes.