La Paz’s beloved zebra crossing guards endure — here’s what it’s like to be one for a day

This piece has been republished with permission from Mic. You can see the original post here.

It was late April, and the pulse of morning rush hour traffic was just beginning to pick up as I trotted out onto the street, my tail dragging behind me. I had just finished an hour-long orientation complete with a guided meditation and role play designed to transform me into my new identity for the day: a zebra.

As the traffic light turned red, I promptly took my place on Avenida 16 de Julio, at one of the busiest intersections in the center of La Paz, Bolivia, and began to implement what I’d been trained to do. I danced up to the nearest car, my arms extended out front to signal “stop” as a young boy wearing a backpack and a baseball cap crossed the street with his mother. The boy looked at me, and sprung from his mother to give me a hug. His mother and I each held one of the boy’s hands as we ushered him across the street.

Another woman followed, smiling as she met my high-five in the air and continued on her way. When the light turned green, I kept pedestrians at bay as the cars thrust forward.