Proximity of a country at walking distance rarely arrives when you are stationed in a big country like USA. The closeness to the international border was not thought to be as close. I never had a chance to cross an international border by foot. It would have been a big tragedy, remembering the partition of India and people crossing by foot the newly created international border at that time.
The understanding between countries help the people in the border and is great boon to random tourists like me who is in Buffalo for some other reason, studying, rather than tourism.
The chill factor of summer lets the mind go random and for me it was the desire to cross the country by walk. Being an international student on F1 Visa in the USA I applied for Canada visa. Duly received it. Like a good new generation guy, showed it to friends, updated in facebook, planned my international travel and executed it.
I put it on Google Maps, took a print out, in case the phone becomes unresponsive.
I had to be double careful to have all documents in hand so that I can have my journey with no issues at the two entry points, viz Canada and USA. I got to downtown Buffalo as one of my friends were heading to Buffalo General Hospital. I started walk from Buffalo General to Mather Park, Fort Erie, Ontario.
I had to be sure that I am not going the wrong way. Since , google shows the shortest route for walking, it is better and energy-conserving to follow the path. I had to refer to the printed page of map in between just to make sure that I am going in the right direction.
On the way i was happy to see the Allentown arts festival. Allentown has its own history in Buffalo. Though it cannot boast of hundreds and thousands years of heritage as we do back in India, it still has something in it. There was some Latin American music on the street with the traditional drums and their unique beats. There were shops the completely took over the roads. Traffic was blocked for these two days. June 11 and 12, 2016. My plan was to have a short stay at the Mather Park , Ontario and return before night. The distances mentioned in miles in the maps can be misleading to the unfamiliar eyes and legs. 3.2 miles shown in the map is 5.1 km. This is not a normal casual walk. Luckily , there are many parks on the way where i could sit and relax. My first stop was at Symphony Circle. I had been there, have walked till there to attend the Kick off meeting of the pre-seed workshop. Unlike India, where you can walk anywhere and piss anywhere, here, the possibility of public urination is zero, a public offense. So, I was told that all shops have restroom and I could ask permission and have the job done, in case it was needed. After a 10 minutes rest at the symphony circle for the unacquainted legs, I continued. From symphony circle I continued walking, the temperature was perfect for a walk. Not too hot, not too cold, the Goldilocks standards of sorts .
After the prospect park , before the front park I take a right and it goes all the way under the bridge, this is the path for pedestrians and bikes (cycles). I see the peace bridge from under the bridge and take a turn to approach the turnstile date to the peace bridge.
I was wondering if they would be checking my documents at the R.F Willson Administrative Building. I waited and an officer told me I could go and on returning press the button at the door of the building to get the documents checked. So I had the walk. The walk to Canada was under construction. I saw that some nice infrastructure is coming up. But the entry point to Canada at the current condition for pedestrians is not so welcoming. There was a big queue of vehicles which wanted to pass through the inspection. I was on the fastest mode, since I was the only pedestrian there.
The officers at Canada border were very helpful. Though I was this strange lone guy walking to another country. They were very pleasant and approachable. They told me how to walk to Mather Park with a cool walk along the river side. The Waterfront trail had lot of seagulls and kingfisher birds busy getting their lunch and hanging out. Another strange and old friends that I found there were the mosquitoes. I was like a magnet attracting almost all the mosquitoes on my pant. I had a busy time shooing and beating them to death. International Crime under the Peace Bridge! These were some very hungry mosquitoes with very less momentum and energy. They should go to Kochi and learn the tricks of their trade. I had a few clicks of the Peace Bridge from the Waterfront Trail, Canada. And kept walking to the Mather Park.
I was the only person at the Mather Park on Sunday evening. I found company with a spider who had the whole park bench for itself. If the spider was on airbnb I would paid generously. For it was a very satisfying, heart-filling feel of having accomplished something. Looking from the spider’s kingdom at Mather Park, the peace bridge, so near and was so busy but did not affect me. Peace was mine!
I stayed there for some time. Enjoyed singing my songs. Had the light breeze and the fresh air on me. After some time , with enough rest, I started back. As the officer had suggested there was an approach to bridge from the Mather Park. The stop sign read in English and French. Reminded me of the railway level crossing at Vepagunta. And then the international peace bridge. more pictures to swank were taken. I said ‘Hi’ to the construction worker who adjusted the traffic cones for the change of signals over the bridge. Canada, entered the international boundary line and entered USA all within 30 seconds. The bridge was again full of trucks, the smell of diesel was bad enough to spoil the mood. The vastness of river , the seagulls and the swimming ducks tried to compensate for it. The wind tried hard to take away the unpleasant smell. The bridge rattled as the vehicles passed through, with the power of wind there is an illusions that you are swaying and moving, a nice experience.
I officially entered the USA after the inspection at the Administrative building. There was this biker who had come biking from the beach. An inspiration to go biking to Canada next time. I walked to Allen Station NFTA Metro , and took metro to my home. The total expense, other than the visa, of the international trip was due to this $2 USD.