Holy cows! A village traffic jam, Indiana Jones and lessons in moving forward.

by Vishnu on June 2, 2012

A cow traffic jam can ruin your morning.

A rush hour traffic jam.

Traffic jams and accidents in the pueblo, or village, take on a life of their own.

Earlier this week, I traveled from the Costa Rican pueblo I’m living in for the summer, Biolley, to another nearby pueblo, Las Tablas. We went in my friend’s truck to pick up a student volunteer who was joining us at the farm for a couple of weeks.

It was a typical morning in Costa Rica; heavenly! The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the greenery was as vibrant as ever. We even left 2 hours early for the 30 minute ride down to the Las Tablas bus stop, trying to capture the beauty of this region with our cameras.

As we  drove down the last winding turn towards a straight road that would take us into Las Tablas, we approached a trailer full of cows sitting in the middle of the bridge! (see photo above) The trailer could not make it up the small uphill climb because of the weight of the cows.

Indiana Jones to the rescue.

Since the trailer was stuck in the middle of the narrow bridge, cars couldn’t travel either way. 8 am in the morning, a trailer full of cows in the middle of the road, traffic stopped on both sides, what would you do if you got stuck on this traffic jam?

Exactly. Stop the engine, get out of your car and chit chat with all your neighbors from the village who you hadn’t seen in weeks. As we commiserated and tried to find the humor in this situation, we realized our cell phones didn’t have reception in the area to make calls or communicate with anyone.

At that point, we didn’t know how many kilometers away the actual bus stop was and it was nearing 8:30 a.m, the time the student volunteer was to arrive. As we looked out into the sea of cows stomping with restlessness in the trailer, a frustrated driver who couldn’t figure out how to move his heavy trailer, and no cell phone reception, I volunteered to do the only thing I could do in that situation.

Walk across the bridge to the bus stop.

My Indiana Jones-like tactics required I tip toe without falling into the river behind me and without getting a kiss from the agitated cows whose faces were literally a couple inches away from mine.

I had to walk past the entire trailer, clutching onto the rails with my life, to get over to the other side of the bridge. Once I made it across, I started to walk towards the bus stop. I commenced my long and treacherous uphill journey, uncertain of how many kilometers away the actual bus stop was located.

When you move forward past the initial road blocks, the obstacles seem to disappear.

I made it past the cow-filled trailer and began to walk towards the bus stop.

To my relief, the bus stop was only 1.5 km from the derailed cow trailer. I reached the bus stop exactly as the bus arrived. The student volunteer and I started walking back to our friend’s truck.

A local merchant in a van pulled over and offered us a ride back to the bridge. He rolled his eyes at us when we tried to explain to him a trailer full of cows had broken down back at the bridge. He drove us back to the bridge, where we jumped out and trekked back across the bridge, holding onto the rails with our lives.

Without falling in the ditch again or exchanging kisses with the cows, we got back to the other side of the bridge. Our friend was able to make a u-turn with her truck and we headed back home to the farm.

What does a broken down cow-filled trailer have to do with life? Well, if you confront an angry-cow filled trailer traffic jam, you have 2 choices. You can sit there and wait it out or try to move forward despite the obstacles.

All I did was decide to cross the bridge to walk to the bus stop.

From there, I found that it was just a short distance to the bus stop. The bus also arrived exactly when I did. A local merchant gave us a ride back and we were able to head back home a lot sooner than if we had sat in the traffic jam until the driver had figured out the physics of moving his cow-filled trailer.

When facing obstacles and challenges, you just have to move forward. While I could have ended up kissing a cow or falling into a river, I didn’t. And once I showed the situation I was willing to take a smooch from my four-legged friends, the other obstacles just disappeared right in front of me.

What about you? What do you do when facing a trailer full of cows? How about other life obstacles? Have you noticed that obstacles tend to fall away when you take them on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

A couple other photos of the scenery that morning.

Costa Rican scenery

River from afar

Another couple of cows (not in the trailer)

 

 

{ 16 comments }

Paula June 2, 2012 at 7:16 pm

So funny that you had cows hold you up. I once had a herd of bison stop me on the road to Mt. Rushmore. My travelling companion said what do we do, I said we wait, they’re bigger than us (which they were). Eventually, the moved off the road, but you don’t want to make a bison mad.

Sometimes you can go around the obstacle, sometimes you just need to wait for the obstical to move on its own.
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Vishnu June 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Hi Paula, thanks for dropping by. Making cows, bison or any animal that’s bigger than us mad is not a good idea. In this case, the cows were trapped in the trailer so they didn’t have a choice about the whole thing!

In this case, the obstacle ultimately got going (the trailer went forward) but I saved a couple hours by walking around the obstacle and back to my location. If I had to keep going forward, we would have waited for a couple hours for the obstacle to clear because there was no rooms for automobiles to pass.

Caroline Leon June 2, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Great story with a great moral Vishnu. I love the idea that even when we face obstacles we just keep moving forward, even if it’s on tip toe at a time :) Sometimes when things get tough, I like to think of just continuing to put one foot in front of the other, I know if I can do that I’ll be okay, no matter how long it takes!
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Vishnu June 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Hey Caroline – yup, keep moving forward! I had to move forward to pick up the student volunteer otherwise we would have been stuck for hours sitting staring at a trailer full of angry cows. When I made the first step forward, everything else cleared up:)

Izzy June 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Hi Vishnu,
Well, I for one, am very happy that you lived to tell the story… Though, a piece of me really wishes you got kissed by one of the cows.

I really liked this line:
“When you move forward past the initial road blocks, the obstacles seem to disappear.”

I cannot count the amount of times I have created “imagined road blocks” in my life. I won’t take action because I “think” something will happen. What is amazing to me, is that as I move forward, these roadblocks either a) don’t exist or b) are way more manageable than I expected.

I guess when we focus on what is immediatelly in front of us than it becomes easier to tackle the problem.

Nice work connecting a traffic jam with cows to a life lesson :)
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Vishnu June 5, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Thanks Izzy. I’ve never kissed a cow before so that would have been an interesting experience and this story might have been even more fascinating. How I overcame obstacles by kissing a cow!

Yes, we just have to move forward and like you say, the obstacle will disappear and will become manageable. Sometimes fear holds us back from taking any action.

I tried to connect the story to a life lesson. Sitting in traffic for a bit of time before my walk was good time to ask myself, ‘what lesson is there in this cow jam!?’

Vidya Sury June 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Costa Rica looks and sounds heavenly, Vishnu. I fully agree that when we face things head on, obstacles retreat, or at the very least, minimize. We have the power, when we choose to use it.

Let me share something funny with you. I spent much of my life in Hyderabad (India) and consider the city my spiritual home, mostly because I feel a sense of homecoming whenever I am there. Also, my closest friends reside there. I’ve studied and worked here – so imagine the time span in that context. During school days, we walked through fields to shortcut our way, even though we had the option of taking the bus. For me, the school bus was out of the question simply because I could not afford it. Also, I had a wonderful uncle who would tell me – walking is so much more fun, seeing things on the way, enjoying nature, playing in the water flowing into the fields on the way back home…he had a point. Now, we would often meet cows. And bulls. We usually steered clear of their way, but we’d occasionally come across the stuck bullock cart in the marshy areas of the field. The farmer would then calmly disconnect the bullocks from the cart and drive them home. No tension at all. There was this time when a bull charged at me. I didn’t know how to avoid it and received the “thump” of its head on my midriff. Sure it knocked the breath out of me, but I was lucky not to come in contact with its horns because the farmer trying to control it pulled it back just in time. Lucky escape – and I am alive to tell. :-)

Later, one of my offices was in an area called Basheerbagh. Now – twice or thrice a day, a huge herd of buffalos would come stomping down our road – and woe betide anyone who happened to be in its path. It was the stuff nightmares are made of! We could hear the stampede well before they reached our gate and while we always took care never to park outside, there was no way of telling whether we would meet them while entering our gate, which was a little way off the road. If we did meet them, there was no place to move to, to protect ourselves. So – we would call the office before entering that lane to see if the coast was clear, as ridiculous as that sounds. But we wanted to live, healthy…so. These buffaloes were called “MLA buffaloes” Now go figure that out!

I loved this post. :P
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Vishnu June 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Thanks Vidya for your comment and sharing your experiences. I’ve had several cow and bull India encounters but not of late so couldn’t fall back on those:)

And I have a feeling, tell me I’m wrong, if this had happened in India, every motorist would have found one way or other to drive around the trailer even if meant driving over the river? lol

I’m glad you survived the bull encounter from your school days! I would have absolutely not been prepared to walk across the bridge if the cows were not locked up in atrailer here during my Costa Rican experience! Sounds like walking to school every day was an adventure for you.

Buffalos stomping down the road? Stampedes? Calls to the office to scout the area before walking? Sounds terrifying! I think you’ve now given me plenty of perspective on this whole trailer of cows incident. I could have simply kissed one of them – not put my life at risk!

Thanks again for your comment and hope you’re feeling better!

Meg | One Love Meg June 4, 2012 at 5:29 am

I love Costa Rica. Your pueblo sounds wonderful. I have seen lots of animal roadblocks in my day. It’s hard not to laugh when these occur, it makes you feel like you are in the movies. The most recent one we had was goats in Morocco! :)

Vishnu June 5, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Meg, thanks for dropping by. Now, I’m not reducing the subscription to my blog no matter how much you’ve mastered bartering in Morocco.

Costa Rica is everything I heard it to be and more. Yup, walking across the trailer with the river behind me and angry cows inches away, made me feel like Indiana Jones! I’m glad it was a good ending and I didn’t get soaked or slobbered on!

Lori Gosselin June 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

Hi Vishnu!
I really like this story. First you did the obvious thing (chit chat with all your neighbors), the only thing you could see, and finally you realized there was something else you could do possibly realizing this because you stayed calm and didn’t try to force the situation.
Like Izzy, I love how you put the obstacle behind you and made it shrink by doing that.
Lori
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Vishnu June 5, 2012 at 6:38 pm

hi Lori, I could have just waited it out but took the first step in moving forward. From there, a stranger gave me a ride, the walk was minimal and I got back pretty quickly to head back to the farm. I had to put the obstacle behind me by going forward. I survived to talk about it:)

Sandra / Always Well Within June 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Vishnu,

Costa Rica looks so beautiful and real! I would probably get stuck… Good point here, it would be much better to move forward, but it’s easy to also get enveloped by “Yes, buts…” :)
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Vishnu June 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

HI Sandra, this would have been a hilarious ‘yes, but’ situation. Yes, I could tip toe across the bridge but get kissed by the cows. Yes, I could tip toe across the bridge but fall into the river.

The good thing was the final decision was yes I could sit and wait for a couple hours or take some action and get home! I’m glad I moved forward:)

Wendy Irene June 6, 2012 at 11:18 am

LOL! I have seen a wondering cow on a highway ramp before but never a trailer full of cows road block. That is awesome you didn’t fall in the river or kiss a cow, and the timing worked out perfectly. I don’t think cow lips wash off. Love hearing about sunny Costa Rica!
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Vishnu June 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

It was something else all right:) I’m glad I survived the venture myself.

Costa Rica is not quite sunny this time of the year. Rains a couple hours a day but able to get some beautiful shots when it is sunny for a few hours. Hope to post more photos soon.

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