When we moved to Ahuara three years ago, the only way out of the township to the south was by way of an old one-lane bridge. This bridge was also the most outstanding feature of our little village—if we were trying to describe where we lived to people, we would say, “The town with the long one-lane bridge!” Almost anyone who drove through here would remember it. We soon started hearing rumors, though, that we would be getting a new bridge sometime. It took another two years before work was started, but in January or February 2020, we saw the beginnings of a bridge just downstream from the old one. Lockdown slowed the work a bit, but by the end of this summer, it started looking possible that the new one would open soon! We first heard that it would open in April…then May. Weather delayed it some, and a rafting accident which took the life of a local man delayed it more. Finally, the date was set: the grand opening would be on the 12th of June! (Most of us drove over it a week and a half before that; because some paving had to be done on the approach on this side, traffic was diverted from the old bridge over the new one for a day, although we only used one lane.) A few of our boys decided they didn’t care about the opening, and went to town to get supplies for Simon’s house, but most of our family went. After the speeches in the township hall, the crowd of about 200 people walked down to the new bridge. The local school children sang a few songs in Maori,
the Mayor (in the green coat) cut the ribbon with the biggest pair of scissors I’ve ever seen, and the first three vehicles ceremoniously drove across. (Two of the vehicles were school buses, with the children on board.)
Then, the bridge was opened for walkers. We enjoyed walking across and back on the roadway! There is a pedestrian lane on one side; we decided to walk on the other, since we’ll never be able to again!
Looking upstream at the old bridge. See the horse going across, about in the center? The woman who rides him said she often rode him across, but she won’t be going over the new bridge, with its two-way traffic. She took advantage of the last hour that the bridge was open. After we went home, the old bridge was closed and the new one opened. The last vehicle to cross the old bridge was driven by descendants of the woman who was the first to cross it when it was opened in 1929 (they won the bidding for the privilege!). We thoroughly enjoyed the chance to cross the new bridge on the day it opened, and we enjoyed the sunshine, too! Within an hour after we went home, the rain closed in again.
A few days before the new bridge opened, our children and some visitors ran across the old bridge. Esther had always wanted to cross it on foot, and this was the last chance. See the condition it was in? It needed either replacement or a lot of renovations. It’s a little sad to see a landmark disappear, though.