Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 36. Niagara

Day 36. 10th.

We arrived in Niagara Falls New York in a pretty worse for wear state. Not much, if any sleep on the greyhound.
We got a few pictures
& a bit of video footage, then Paul, who only had his drivers licence so didn’t think he’d get into Canada, offered to stay with the bags while Nate & I headed across for more photos & views from the Canadian side. (A far better view of the falls.)
We told him we’d have breakfast when we got back.
Little did we know.
We admired the scenery, got a few snaps,

then headed back to pinch our bags, then wake Paul & document his reacting, feed, water & sleep. However, at US customs we heard the dreaded words. ‘Take a seat’.
We sat for about an hour, maybe more, before Nate, a US citizen, had had enough & told customs he was going through to let Paul know what was going on. We expected I’d follow just minutes later.
About half an hour later I was ushered through to the lower levels of interrogation.
To be completely honest, the woman interrogating me was pretty nice. Unlike her male counterparts, she didn’t make me feel like I’d just raped her daughter.
She also gave me a cup of water & when I told her I was a bit vague in the head due to no sleep or food since yesterday, she got me a magic meal. (It was pasta & chicken in a packet, you added liquid to another packet, dropped the first packet inside the now wet packet & then put those packets into another cardboard packet & let the chemical reaction do the cooking. She assured me it wouldn’t give me cancer.)

(Paul, please insert fantastic customs photo here)
However, I was handed a notice stating that that although I’d been allowed into the States in 2001, just weeks after 9/11, when my visa was expired (unbeknownst to me) & despite the fact that I flew out just 3 days later, I was deemed as an over-stayer & couldn’t be allowed re-entry now.

All I had with me was my laptop & camera. All my other belongings were in my pack with Paul. None the less, I was to be exported & Canada would take care of me.
So, with no money, no flight out, no way of making money, eating or legally getting lodging, I was marched out of customs like the menace I was.
Good bye USA.
Canada wasn’t super stoked to receive me & it turned out they weren’t at all able to get me food, lodging or assistance to fly out. The American Authorities had deceived me?! They were, however, able to take all my details, finger prints & photos.
They gave me a bond allowing me two weeks to get myself sorted & out of the country. I’m still trying to fathom why they were able to do that when I had no money or means of leaving, but the US wasn’t, despite being able to track me on line & my having a guaranteed flight out of New York.
My conclusion is to wear GAP clothing when next going through a boarder to the US. It was my own silly fault.
Finally the boys managed to catch up with me & it turns out, they had been attempting to bring me food, my pack & phone numbers all afternoon, but the US hadn’t passed any of it on, despite their claims to do so. The US authorities deceived them too?!
With my bags & a discretion-capable immigration officer allowing Paul into Canada, we de-robed & went exploring my new home.
A natural wonder like Niagara falls gives the impression of being in a natural wonderland. The actuality could not be more far from the truth.
Niagara Falls on the Canadian side is nothing short of a carnival. It has rides, horror houses, wax museums & over priced ice cream stalls. Bright lights flash & music & advertisements boom out into the well lit streets.
We wandered about looking for wireless, eventually winding up at the casino.
Once done there, the boys figured that the staff at the US boarder would have changed &, being the good loyal buggers they are, watching my back, they went to find an officer who would perhaps be a little more discerning & gracious, despite the obvious odds they were facing.
The quote they received pretty well says it all.
“He’s from New Zealand. We don’t care about him.”
Discouraged, but always coming up with new ideas to make the trip, with just 3 days left, work, we went in search of a squat.
Perhaps I could swim the river? Maybe I could get in on Nate’s passport? Could I climb the bridge arch? Could I win millions & bribe the guards? Could we slingshot me over with a giant rubber band?
We found a closed hostel, sat on its steps & ate a bite,
then set up tent & crashed out in its parking lot, all of us exhausted from too many hours awake & too much stimulation.


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Christina said...

it was really nice seeing you that day in the Niagara Falls, NY Visitors center. :) very unexpected. but its not something we get to experiance here in Niagara Falls, believe it or not. :)


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