I have never experienced anything like these Malawian bridges before.
There is a river that flows through part of the city, and one main bridge to cross it. The problem is that it can be quite a trek to get to that main, concrete bridge. Being incredibly resourceful, people have built their own, less official bridges. There is basically a man who buys some timber and employs some people to help him make the bridge. The result is a rickety (some are worse than others) joining of wood planks by old nails. Some have huge gaps and wobble in the wind or when you set foot on them. You pay the bridge owner 10 kwatcha (about .7 cents) to cross the thing. I have thought more than once that perhaps someone should pay me for arriving alive on the other side! One particularly exciting such bridge came into my life when a colleague offered to show me where to go from the office for lunch. Given that she said it was close, I didn’t change out of my pointly-toed stilletos that I was wearing in the office (the office culture is very formal, I am not being a princess!). As we walk, my colleague turns to me and asks if I can swim.
And then I see it… lacking in the timber department and looking even more rickety than her brothers downstream. I pay to get on the thing, and slowly make my way across, trying to ensure that both the point of my shoe and the stiletto heel make it onto a piece of wood. It wobbles and creeks. When we arrive on the other side, my colleague announces that there was a volunteer before me that refused to go on the thing. I don’t know whether to feel proud or stupid.
Bridge photo shoot:
|The scary bridge's more stable brothers|