The Bridge


To cross the bridge or not to cross the bridge? I continuously asked myself at 2am under a starless night, after a 14 hour van ride from Puno to Cusco, Peru. I knew if I didnít cross the bridge I would be stranded alone in a foreign country while my friends continued on. What is so bad about this bridge you ask? It could be it's fragile infrastructure, as it had been burned down the day before due to strikes in Peru between the indigenous people fighting against laws endangering their land. Or, it could be the gaping holes all over the bridge and so one wrong step would land you to your imminent demise into the river below. One last thing about this bridge, it is not only used by people, but also by vehicles ranging from motorcycles to trucks transporting cargo.
So now you know about the bridge and hopefully understand my fear. Back to my initial question, what if I decided not to cross this bridge and stayed behind as my friends crossed without me? Stranded behind, alone, on a dirt road in the middle of the Peruvian mountains was also a place I did not want to be. After numerous negative thoughts about what could happen if I crossed the bridge I thought to myself, with all the things that I had endured on this trip including, a 14 hour van ride from Puno to Cusco, I hadn't gone to the bathroom for the past 6 hours of the ride because of the blockades happening in some villages, and I was thirsty as my drinking water had run out; I decided I had traveled too far to back down now. Staring at the bridge I realized what I had to do, balancing my backpack in front of me and my carry on bag on my back I carefully started across the bridge, cautiously taking each step as if at any moment the bridge would crumble. I made it halfway across only to have to turn back to my starting point as a large rusty red diesel powered truck was crossing this brittle bridge. I waited anxiously as the truck crossed, if the bridge broke the next best route would be four hours away. The truck made it across the bridge and surprisingly the bridge was left in tact.
I am now back at my starting point and facing my fear all over again. I began trial number two, yet again I began to muster up my courage, telling myself that it's okay and that now I know how the bridge is built and that I would make it through this time for sure. I start to cross the bridge in the same way as I had last time. I make it again halfway through when, I am met with head lights in my face, now Iím thinking, ďGreat now what?Ē, it turns out a passenger vehicle is about to cross the bridge and I was in its way. I needed to move fast otherwise Iíd be in the river. As quickly as I could I backtracked my steps once again back to my original starting point. At this point I am shaking and the slightest sliver of bravery I once had was gone. How was I about to attempt to cross this cursed bridge again?? Well I would not have been able to without my friendís encouragement and assistance. Without her, I would have stayed frozen with fear in the same spot. I began trial number three; I start again following my friend's encouragement each step of the way. I finally made it across the bridge and on the other side of the bridge awaiting me were pride, triumph, and relief.
From this situation I learned that once fear is conquered it is possible to do anything you set your mind to, even in places you don't want to be.

S Abolhassani

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