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This Village Worked Together Every Year To Build A Suspension Bridge By Hand

Sara Martinez

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Every year, the residents of Cuzco, Peru, work with each other to build a suspension bridge over the Apurimac River. It’s a tradition that dates back hundreds of years. What makes it even more amazing? It’s a woven bridge made out of straw, spun by hand.

As far as team-building exercises go, this one’s pretty special – a thousand villagers join forces in a 500-year-old annual tradition to make a precarious rope bridge which will serve as a vital link for their isolated community high in the Peruvian mountains.

Looks like they have their work cut out for them.

The 100ft long Queswachaca Bridge over the river Apurimac, in the Cuzco region of Peru, is constructed from traditional hand-made rope so it must be rebuilt every year.

It’s a good thing everyone’s willing to work together.

It’s difficult to imagine the hours it takes to build something like this. It’s impressive that the community could come together to make anything, let alone a suspension bridge made of rope from straw!

One thousand villagers come together over the course of three-days to take down the old bridge and fabricate a new one. Working up to 12-hours a day, the process begins with the weaving of thin strands of rope from blades of grass.

The villagers bind the thin blades of grass together to create smaller braids of rope.

These thinner strands are then braided together to create heavy-duty rope which is carried across the river by a team of men before being hoisted up into position.

With the heavy-duty rope finally assembled, a team of villagers prepares the arduous task of carrying it up to the bridge site

Wow. Those are some seriously thick ropes.
A train of villagers carry bundles of rope up to the site of the bridge.
Time for a break.
Back to the grind.

Villagers sort through the hundreds of lengths of smaller rope before beginning the long and arduous task of rebuilding the centuries-old bridge

Men carry bundles of the smaller rope up the valley where it will be woven together to form the heavy-duty cable needed to construct the bridge

In what looks like a game of tug-of-war groups of villagers pull the rope from both ends to tighten it up ready for use.

They’re having fun!

Queswachaca Bridge is the only bridge still being conserved in the Inca tradition and after a grueling three-days of work, the villagers celebrate by throwing a huge traditional Inca celebration on the fourth day. 

Villagers carry the hand-made rope across the valley. The bridge, which is vital to the local community.

Looks like they’re almost done.

A view of the partially-rebuilt bridge shows the main lengths of rope now in position across the river.

After setting the main lengths of rope in place, a small team of villagers edge across connecting them together using smaller ropes to create the competed footbridge.

Now all they have to do is see if it works.
Party time!

After three long days of hard work the villagers gather together to celebrate the rebuilding of the bridge by throwing a huge Inca-style celebration.

Villagers join hands for a dance and a sing-song at the post bridge-building party. The bridge is believed to be only bridge still conserved in this traditional Inca fashion.

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