The Cows of Beethoven
It was such a gloomy day when I left Montreal that I decided if it started to rain, it meant Montreal would not want me to leave and I would stay.
Nope, although I really wanted to stay longer, it did not rain. I was back on the road again. Traveling was strange thing. I loved traveling? Yes! I loved hitchhiking? Yes! I loved the feeling of being on the road? Yes and Yes! However, even just after staying in one place for just three days, I felt reluctant to get off my ass and start hitchhiking again. I guess this phenomenon had a name and that was LAZINESS!
My backpack thrown on the roadside, with a big sign saying ‘South’, I was on the road again. Around me there was intensive construction work going on. The thundering of huge machines almost deafened me and the dust almost buried me alive. Therefore, when a car did stop, the driver signed me to get in as soon as possible without a word.
I was on my way to the south now. When I reached a small town somewhere about half an hour away from the border, a young dude picked me up. He was clearly a former hitchhiker. So far, among those who picked up in Canada, the majority were former hitchhikers. This dude hitchhiked himself in California and in Canada after high school. After studying, he returned to his family farm in a small town nearby the border.
He: WOWO! Man! Your journey sounds awesome!
Me: Thanks! How long do you think it will take us to get to the border?
He: Let me see……
Suddenly we saw that there was a major car accident on the road and then we saw some roadwork which had been going on for ages.
He: It might take a while as I had to take a detour. Hey, how about you having lunch with me? I now live with my girlfriend and we have a quite big house. If anything goes wrong with your journey, you can even stay there!
That was decided. I was going to enjoy Canadian hospitality for the last time. We went off the main road and into vast farm lands. There was the smell of cows and manures coming into my nostrils, reminding me of the Friesland province of the Netherlands, which was famous for its Frisian cows.
We hardly saw any other vehicles. One car passed. He had a look and honked: ‘Look! That’s my dad! What a small world!’
Minutes later, when we arrived on his farm, he showed me the farm houses. The cows were listening to Beethoven to increase milk production. They seemed quite happy. His father arrived after us and he did not speak much English. We returned to his house and had the typical Canadian dish poutine for lunch. It always occurred to me that the name sounded like the Russian president.
He drove me all the way to the border. ‘Over there! That’s the border! Good luck man! If they refuse you entry, you can always call me and I will pick you up!’
At that point I started hoping that the border police would not let me in so I can stay in Canada for a longer time! 🙂 😀
The Eight Armed Policemen
I calmly packed my stuff and started walking towards the border control. There were many cars waiting at the border. Different from the border pass at Niagara Falls, there was no lane for pedestrians. I was skeptical if I made the right choice. I had an American hitchhiker friend whose name was John. When I met him for the first time he was hitchhiking with his girlfriend in Vietnam. He told me that this particular border control was notoriously nasty. The policemen would use psychological strategies to interrogate you. Another fellow hitchhiker confirmed this impression and added that ‘The border police there have so much hatred towards immigrants and potential immigrants. I don’t know if it is possible, but it seems before they get this job they have to take a “hate the immigrants” course. If they happen not to hate immigrants, they would not get the job.’
I was walking as confidently as possible. When I was about 20 meter from the watch tower, eight fully armed big strapping policemen came out of the building, with very suspecting expressions on their faces, signaling ‘What the hell is this man doing here? Walking? Are those actually legs? Why doesn’t he have a car? He must be suspicious!’ I smiled to them and took off my sunglasses. One of them suddenly shouted: ‘Hold your hands high so I can see them! Stop right there!’
A notion flashed into my mind: ‘So the God of Traveling or the Goddess of Hitchhiking really answered my wish and the border police of US are now going to refuse me entry? Oh yeah!’
They came up and I explained to them that my friend brought me with his car and I did not have a car or driver license, although I would like to cross the border.
One of them searched me while the other started to conduct questioning. Then I was led to their office building. Another officer behind the desk looked at my passports. While he was leaving through the pages of stamps and visas, I looked at the office. I must say, that was the only American building I saw in my journey with a framed portrait of Donald Trump on the wall.
While looking rather casual, suddenly the officer fired a series of questions at lightening speed: ‘What are you going to do in US? What did you do in Canada? Why did you go to Pakistan? What did you do in Peshawar? Do you have any contact with Taliban? What were you doing in Sudan? What were you doing in Iran?……’
I had already heard about the lightening speed interrogation technique from John, so I stayed calm and answered those questions one by one. He did not seem satisfied and kept his stern face until I mentioned that I was a rather well known traveler in China and was on multiple media including television channels. He then arched his eyebrows. I continued to tell him that I had been traveling around the world for 3 years and I crossed US border twice already without any problems.
He said: wait right here! I will be back!
Then he walked away to talk with his colleague: ‘Gee, traveling around the world for 3 years? Don’t know about you. I envy that! I am 45 now and I have only been to Canada!’
He came back: ‘OK, there is a fee of 6 dollar and you’ve got to give me the address of the place you are going to stay in US.’ It was quickly done.
He: ‘So how are you going to move around now?’
Me: ‘I have hitchhiked all the way, always able to find people to take me along, so I will just walk down the road and try my luck.’
He: ‘You know what, kid, in 3 hours there will be a greyhound bus passing here. If you want, you can catch that one. While waiting, you can stay around here in the office. I am off from work soon. I will tell my colleague to let you stay around.’
Me: ‘Thanks a lot sir! How far is the nearest town?’
He: ‘About 10 miles or so. Why?’
Me: ‘If I have to wait for 3 hours, I will just walk to the next town and try my luck there.’
He: ‘All right, be careful.’
Although his voice softened, his face remained stern all the time.
I was on the road again, like a free bird back in the sky.
To be continued