You see, when I am traveling, I am not an early-riser. When I woke up, it was already 9:30 AM and John was already watching TV. Yes, in US people actually watch TV, unlike in Europe. I did not remember last time when I watched TV when I was living in the Netherlands. Oh! Now I remember. It was in 2010 for the world cup final! It was the Netherlands against Spain.
John wanted to show me how bread crusts could attract fish and birds in the river. I went with my camera with him to the riverside. Some of the trees above the river were infected with some disease, presumably from Asia. They were dying from the top to the bottom, bit by bit. He threw some crusts in the river, no, nothing happened, even after like 15 minutes.
Spoiled little bastards! Guess they were too well fed to be attracted by those crusts or they were just camera-shy.
In the living room there were drums, guitars and other instruments. On the wall there was a picture of his band, “The Moveable Hotspot”. Before I left, he gave me an album of his band as a souvenir, which I cherished until this day.
After a simple breakfast, John drove me to the falls. To be honest, besides New York City, I had never seen so many tourists anywhere else in US. I saw the falls again under bright day light. There, for the first time in North America, I saw other backpackers, although their backpacks were much more shinny and obviously expensive and their clothes was not as shabby as mine. I was excited to see fellow backpackers and said hi to them. They responded coldly and looked at me like I was a homeless beggar. I realized then that they were from the States and for them, stranger meant danger. God, I missed Europe again…
Unlike European borders, most of the time they only check you when you get in the country, not when you leave the country. I crossed the border bridge and joined a short line in front of the border control office.
There was only one officer inside and he asked me: so where are you going in Canada? Where are you going to stay? When are you going afterwards?
You see, as a cheap traveler, I could not produce a proof of booked accommodation, so I just told him: Sir, to be honest I just want to see the falls from the other side. He nodded and stamped my passport.
Thus I entered Canada. There were a throng of tourists, mostly Americans or Canadians. The Niagara Falls are segmented into more than one pieces actually. The are the American Falls and the Canadian Falls and the Canadian Falls are more magnificient to behold.
The Falls were stunning! There were double rainbows, a cruise ship with tourists venturing near the falls from the river, all of the tourists wearing rain jackets. The sky was sparkly blue and the trees were green as jade.
If there were less people it would be even better.
I walked from the falls to the nearest place for hitchhiking. I had heard from several people that hitchhiking was much easier in Canada. However, according to my past experiences, the first day or days in a country things were always harder for some unknown reason. Maybe it was the magnetic field of this new land and the magnetic field of the traveler needed some time to bond.
Obviously the bonding took a while. I wrote Toronto on the sign, which was about 2 hours away. I waited in a pretty good spot for 2 hours and nobody, nobody stopped. I was questioning in my mind: who said it’s easy to hitchhike in Canada? Look me in the eye! Shit! Maybe it’s even more difficult than in US! Oh I am fucked!
Beside the road there was a big piece of lawn and a big tree. I thought I needed to rethink my strategy and some extreme measures might be necessary, such as dressing up like a girl or a Buddhist monk, like I did while in Myanmar. I sat down below the tree on my towel, which was liberated in an Ecuadorian hostel, with colorful Inca stripes and started to contemplate. Before anything useful came to my mind, I fell asleep.
How about in my dreams? No, nothing useful came up either……
The sun was slitting and I was not in the shadow anymore. I tried to sleep like that but no, could not manage, eventually had to move to another spot but now I could not sleep anymroe.
I had to do something!
I walked further up the road and found a better spot after a traffic light. It was just outside a private house. I was not sure if that was OK because if it was in US there might be a sign saying ‘No trespassing, otherwise you will be shot!’
When a guy passing by saw me and greeted me:’Good luck man! I hitchhiked from this spot myself many times! It will work!’ I felt relieved. I guess my bonding with the place finally was completed.
The sun started to set. If I could not find a ride today, I would just camp somewhere. This was Canada, where only 36 million people lived on the world’s second biggest country. I was pretty sure I could find some space in the wild.
At about 8 PM, a car stopped.
When I stepped into the car, the Hispanic looking driver said:’When I saw you, I immediately knew that you were not from here. You must be a foreigner!’
He was a border control officer, although he was not the one who checked me.
He: My job, it’s hard sometimes. (He spoke with a clear Spanish accent and very expressive with his hand gestures) Sometimes I had to turn down people for their entry. Today there was this woman with two children. I think they are from Burundi. They were seeking political asylum here but no, I could not let them in because they did not have the required papers. I felt bad, looking at the kids, crying together with their mom. It’s shit. I also got kids myself. I can’t imagine what would happen if they have to go back to their own country and yet, I had to turn them down.
We passed a place with a very smelly factory and it became dark. When he dropped me in Burlington, where he lived. I smelled something even worse. Across the gas station where I stood, there was a slaughterhouse.
I was anxious. Asking in gas station normally was the best way to find a ride, but in US almost all the time the workers would kick you out. I started asking around. The worker inside the gas station saw me and did not do anything.
After hitchhiking in US, nowhere is difficult to hitchhike anymore.
I asked for one hour and nobody seemed to be going to Toronto. Only one car was going there but the owners were Chinese. To be honest with you, I hated Chinese people, for their conservativeness, for their indifference towards others’ lives. They were going to Toronto but when I asked if I could get a ride they said: no no, we have to go to Toronto, we can’t take you.
Great logic. They seemed always suspecting. Anybody in their eyes was a criminal. They could not understand anybody who was not working. Of course there were some exceptions but by and large, they were like that. When I was hitchhiking in the South Island of New Zealand, it was during Chinese New Year holiday, so basically 40% of cars there were driven by Chinese tourists and guess what, among the 50 or so cars I hitched there, only 2 were from Chinese people. There were yet another species of Chinese people who would give ride to white people but not to their own countrymen. In their eyes, when the whites were doing hitchhiking, it was just cool and when Chinese people were doing it, we were serial killers. I also knew of many, if not most Chinese people who deemed the white people superior and thus they would rush to help them, to be seen associated with them while totally ignoring their fellow yellow human beings. That was when I was living in China between 2014-2015, in Beijing to be exact, I felt like a second-class resident. The society, do mind, not the government, but the people treated white foreigners as if they were higher than Chinese people. It was not racism upon Chinese people by whites, but upon Chinese people by themselves. It was quite hopeless. That constituted one of the main reasons why I could not live in China. No, I simply could not. I tried but no.
OK, enough racism complaints.
I went to a nearby fast-food store to use the WiFi there and contact my friend Arif who was living in Toronto.
I found a piece of grass near a small road and put up my tent. The grass was soft and the crickets were chirping.
To be continued