Authored by Kerry Kijewski
Here I was. I was actually in Ireland, a place I had dreamed of for years. Now was the time to make the most of the famed Irish luck I was having. I decided I would be up for any opportunity which came my way.
It was on the second or third day of our tour when a particular opportunity arose; a chance at a totally new experience for me. We were traveling north from Dublin, and as was explained by our extremely outgoing and animated Irish tour guide, it was optional if any of us wished to try walking across the structure to be found at our next stop. Can blind people travel
It was the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
I tried to make a split second decision as to whether or not I could or should be one of them. Travel to Ireland blind
What did it entail? Would it be easy for me, who was unable to see, to navigate across it? Travelers who are blind.
I hadn’t had any time to research it. I honestly didn’t know if I could do it, but in that moment I didn’t care. I was too determined to not lose an experience and snap up whatever came my way.
Suspended almost 100 ft above sea level, the rope bridge spans a dizzying gap over the North Atlantic from the mainland to a small island. Today it is a popular tourist destination, attracting thousands of thrill-seekers (and birdwatchers!) to the North Coast every year.
If you are bold enough to cross the 65 ft (20 m) bridge, stretching from the mainland to ‘Rocky Island’, you will be rewarded with fantastic views of Rathlin Island, Scotland and the Causeway Coast. Though legally blind, at least I didn’t have to worry about not looking down!
I debated, only for a nano-second, and luckily the friend I was traveling with was the adventurous sort. She did not try to influence me either way. I would walk the rope bridge alongside her and we would take it step by step and see how it went.
I was fairly certain I would live to tell the tale, however before this point I had usually let my hesitation and fear of the unknown rule my actions.
This particular friend had always been there for me, offering encouragement and assistance in whatever I wanted to do. Always so supportive, she was someone I looked up to, in a way. I admired her fearlessness and her adventurous spirit and attitude.
She had been living in Ireland for a couple years by this point. She had applied to medical school in Ireland and I couldn’t believe her brave leap into the unknown.
This was what I was determined to do too, even if in just a small way, with this rope bridge: take the leap.
We hiked a while before we actually arrived at the bridge. We passed sheep and green land which symbolized Ireland. Once more, I really couldn’t believe where I was.
After some time we made it to the bridge. With no real idea of what it would be like, I decided to take the first step and go for it.
We began to walk, my friend, her friend from college, and myself. I was in the middle and we walked, one by one, across.
It was a fairly narrow board. I reached out to my sides and felt ropes to hold onto.
This was no big deal. What was I so worried about? I sighed a deep sigh of relief.
It was soon my free spirited friend who was the one to become nervous.
As we began to walk across the bridge I grew more and more relaxed. I could do this. No big deal.
At one point I evidently stepped too far to one side, making my friend somewhat nervous.
She had nothing to fear. I felt secure with rope rails on either side of me and I felt steady on the boards.
True, I may have stepped slightly too far to one side with one or both feet. This caused my friend to panic slightly, but I reassured her that I knew what I was doing.
I simply wanted to feel out where I could walk and where I should watch my step. I needed to figure out what I had to work with, myself, using my senses other than the sight I could not rely on like the others.
This wasn’t nearly like walking a high wire, as I had been imagining in my mind’s eye. We made it across to the island no problem. I took it as a lesson that most times things are possible and not as scary as you might imagine them to be in your mind.
This is true for so much of life, and this bridge in Ireland was the perfect example.
I wouldn’t let fear rule or stop me, not if I could help it. Never again. I hope to take this with me, forward through any future adventures I may have. I can’t stop living, let a lack of sight prevent me from experiencing what’s out there to experience, and must remain open to life’s beautiful possibilities.
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