Peru’s Very Own “Yankees”? The Shoes of the Andes

Or as Peruvians call them: yanquis

You’ve probably never heard of the Yankees. Well, at least not this kind. They’re a kind of Peruvian sandal, popular amongst 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 you¬†definitely will when you’re up in the Andes. Not only will you see them being worn on the toughened feet of locals, but you can also to buy a pair for yourself!

Sandels Peru - Yanquis
Peru’s “yankees”

Yankees are made out of the rubber from recycled tires. Considering their durability, they’re incredibly cheap, but you are unlikely 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 not only 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 that these peoples toes aren’t dropping off.¬†You can buy Yankees at any 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.

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