Riding the Dog to Canada

Part 1: Going There

A couple of months back I was assigned to speak at a church in Hamilton, Ontario on the 19th of June. As I searched for travel options that would keep me on the ground, it came down to the bus. Amtrak is working on the rails across southern Michigan and has rescheduled some morning trains on Saturdays to accommodate that. That made connecting to the VIARail train in Windsor impossible, so I reserved the dog… Greyhound.

My trip began at Kalamazoo. First stop, Detroit. Changed buses and headed through the tunnel for London (not the one in England). Delayed at immigration in Windsor while people with passports other than American or Canadian jumped through hoops. I experienced at a short distance how hard it is to travel from one country to the next when one has no English, as one woman apparently from Eastern Europe struggled along.

Arriving in London, I had a 3 hour wait for the onward bus to Hamilton. I asked for a referral to a restaurant and was sent down the street to a very good place. Had my first ever taste of Poutine (as in, I’m not Poutine that into my mouth).  Returning to the station met 3 students from China. I mentioned that I’m from Taiwan, “a different nation”, and they all disagreed. The one who spoke about it said, “We must do as our government says in China, and when in Canada, we must do as the Canadian government says, so we cannot agree that Taiwan is a different country.”  So I shifted the discussion out of Mandarin to English, and the topic from politics to education.  I specifically wanted to know if my interlocutor had experience with online courses, either in China or in Canada.

Onward to Hamilton. The bus arrived 30 minutes late. I was met by Pieter, a nurse at a local hospital. His family put me up (and put up with me) for the night and most of the next day (my bus out wasn’t until nearly 11PM on Sunday).

Pleasant church, pleasant people, pleasant time.

Part 2, Homeward Bound

The bus left at 11:30 and I was asleep by midnight, but awakened at about 1:40 to change busses in London, where there was a 2hour+ wait. Slept again on the bench. Next bus came well on time and was very full to Windsor, where it mostly emptied out, but then had to go through the tunnel to Detroit. American immigration was slow because of suspicion of 2 young guys, one from Brazil and another from Spain. It wasn’t helped by the immigration guy who had little Spanish to help the second guy. I feel well protected, but if they’re scrutinizing people in the airports to this extent, no planes will ever bring anyone in.

Changing buses again in Detroit I experienced gruff station staff but friendly travelers. Traffic jam due to overturned dump truck east of Ann Arbor meant late arrival in Kalamazoo. Nonetheless, I slept some more on the way. Home at about 3PM, nap and get ready for visitors.

All in all, a good trip.


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