The first thing that told me I crossed the border, was the customs officer that started barking questions at the people sitting in the front row of the bus.
“Where are you going?!” “What do you do?!” “Who do you know in New York?!”
Now you’ve got to understand, after dealing with the ever genteel and docile Canadians for so long, this was a definite sign that we were no longer in Canada. “Welcome to the U.S of A…” said Iman, or Ea, or maybe it was me. I don’t remember. However, when the officer reached our seats, for some reason, he went really soft on us. I think its because we’re girls, plus look at us. I mean really, who could get mad at these faces?
I remember Obama’s picture hanging on the walls of the immigration office, and after that, nothing much else struck me as significant, or maybe it was because I reverted back into the sleep and no sleep land of ten hour bus rides. We did the usual processing and stamping of passports and I headed back to the bus for another nap.
We reached Syracuse to change buses, and the very first truly American sight I saw was this whole group of Amish people at the bus terminal. It was the most bizarre sight, mostly because they did not stray one bit from depictions of them in the media. The stereotypes couldn’t be more right. They really were in their top hats, long robes, and even a little three or four year old wore his amish hat and tugged at the orange-haired beard of the older Amish man.
I later found out that I’m not a bad navigator of a city, which bolstered my confidence that maybe, I just could possibly be a traveller of the world. I got the bus tickets, picked the hotel, then with a little help, we maneuvered our way through the bustling city’s subway system. Save for that little mishap at Staten Island, and for the fact that New York works like a grid system, its quite impossible to get lost there…
To be continued…