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Every Year, Two Peruvian Villages Rebuild An Incan Rope Bridge Between Them

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The Inca Empire spread from the capital in Cusco (modern-day Peru) through South America and included regions of Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia. They were master builders and engineers who created massive cities like Machu Picchu (without using cement or any kind of binder) and complex road networks in some very difficult terrain.


Some 300 years before Europe had suspension bridges, the Incas had a network of over 200 of them all across the Andes, supplementing their road network that helped move massive amounts of people, goods and soldiers all across their vast empire. Though most of these rope bridges are now gone, 500 years later one Incan bridge still remains thanks to two communities with an annual tradition of restoring it using the old ways of construction.

The last remaining Inca rope bridge is the Keshwa Chaca that spans the Apurimac River near Huinchiri, Peru, in the Province of Canas. The bridge is 148 feet long and hangs over the river more than a hundred foot below.

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The bridge consists of five parallel ropes twisted from the fibers of the cabuya or maguey plant, and are about four inches thick. The floor or walkway is of small sticks and canes, fastened transversely with raw-hide strings. In ancient times, Indians coming from Andahuaylas and other districts had to pay tolls to use the bridge. So they usually brought cabuya leaves, where it grows, to pay toll with. These were prepared and made into ropes by the custodians of the bridge. The responsibility of the bridges maintenance might also have been thrust upon the participants as a form of tax. Today, the residents of the region keep the ancient tradition and skills alive by renewing the bridge annually, every June.

As far as team-building exercises go, this ones 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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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CUZCO, PERU: Female villager in the initial stages of rope making. TAKING handy-craft to a new level pictures show a five century-old tradition where local people build the ultimate hand-made 100-foot-long rope bridge. One thousand villagers come together in a three-day feat in taking down the old Queswachaca Bridge and making a new one, with a grand celebration on the fourth day.  This bridge is the only bridge conserved of this type from the Inca tradition. Working up to twelve hours-a-day, pictures show the construction stages from making the smaller ropes and then braiding them into the huge ropes needed to make the bridge over the river Apurimac, in the Cuzco region of Peru.

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Initial stages: Locals begin the process by working up to 12 hours a day weaving smaller ropes which will then be braided together to form the huge ropes needed to make the bridge

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Initial stages: Locals begin the process by working up to 12 hours a day weaving smaller ropes which will then be braided together to form the huge ropes needed to make the bridge

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Initial stages: Locals begin the process by working up to 12 hours a day weaving smaller ropes which will then be braided together to form the huge ropes needed to make the bridge

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Expertise: 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

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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

Source:

amusingplanet.com

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