You’ve probably never heard of Yankees. Well, not this kind. They’re a kind of Peruvian sandal, popular with rural Amerindians. In Peru the spelling is yanqui, or ojota in Quechua.
On the coast or in the jungle you won’t meet many people wearing these, but definitely when you’re up in the Andes you’ll have the opportunity not only to see them in action on the toughened feet of locals but also to buy a pair for yourself.
Yankees are made out of the rubber from recycled tires. Considering their durability, they’re incredibly cheap, though to be honest you’re not about to see them appear in any fashion shows. In the past, when Peru was a poorer country, they were much more common. Nowadays, with the country’s economic development, people have more money and access to markets featuring more modern footwear. When I asked Peruvians about yankees, many people regarded them as pauper’s shoes.
Who wears Yankees?
Andean folk wear them all the time.
They are very popular among farmers, but it’s not just them.
You’ll see plenty of women in traditional wear boasting a pair.
Everyone says these sandals are very comfortable and long-lasting. What’s surprising is that they wear them high up in the mountains, in extremely cold conditions, all year–WITHOUT SOCKS! It’s a miracle these peoples toes aren’t dropping off. I really admire Peruvians their toughness, because I never go outside in the cold without a trusty pair of warm, enclosed hiking boots.
You can buy Yankees on the market or in some shoe shops in Cusco.
They can make either a great, unique gift for yourself or your friends and family. As far as travel gifts go they’re pretty cheap, costing between 10 and 20 soles.
Nike made an interesting advertisement featuring Yankees, which you can still find on Youtube–I’ve linked to it below.