The Great Divide
Today’s Brew: Not enough
Raised as an American, I was taught to believe that Americans do everything better than everyone else in the world. As America goes, the rest of the world goes.
Go ahead, foreign and well traveled friends, snicker. I’ve traveled a lot in the US, had dalliances in Canada and a strange afternoon in Tijuana. But last weekend was the first time I had a chance to use my passport. Traveling as an adult is also different that traveling as a kid. This time I wasn’t chasing rock stars or margaritas.
While I was in Canada, I wanted to see Niagara Falls from the Canadian side. I had no point of reference, I simply picked Canada since I was there. I had expected it to be a little isolated and a national park similar to The Grand Canyon. It couldn’t be more different. The main road runs right along the falls, just like it would with a regular quiet stream. Unfortunately, I’d spent all my Canadian money before I got there and couldn’t pay to park. I could see plenty from my car, but I just couldn’t take any pictures.
After I finished marveling over the falls, I needed to go find the bridge to bring me back to the states. Along the road to the falls, there was a Sheraton hotel and a Hard Rock Cafe. Even though I don’t eat meat anymore, seeing a HRC sign always makes me crave one of their cheeseburgers. I turned left to follow the one way street and my mouth dropped open.
The entire little village was an entertainment wonderland. Games, a Dracula village, restaurants, stores. Fun. I was sad I couldn’t park, because this place looked worthy of exploration.
I crossed the bridge than spans the falls and was excited to see what I would find on the other side.
A high rise casino tower boasted Drew Carey was coming in two weeks. I drove a block or two further, following the signs to the highway. Abandoned store fronts greeted me. A forgotten factory.
What the fuck?
Niagara Falls is spectacular from all angles. Why the hell is the Canadian side a boom town and the American side a ghost town? It made me so sad. How did this happen? Was it poor decisions? Was it better financial deals for the developers in Canada? Was it simple American arrogance that we didn’t need no stinking fun to attract visitors?
Whatever it was, it needs to change. Besides visiting two museums, I didn’t do any touristy stuff in Toronto. I saw a lot of the city, and I never saw anything that was bonafide ghetto. I’m not naive enough to think it doesn’t exist, I just never found it. The highway leading to Toronto was full of vineyards and businesses, many of them new. The New York highway showcase many closed factories and abandoned farmhouses. In all fairness, there were many beautiful farms that looked fully operational and miles of untouched rolling countryside as well.
I’m not anti American at all, if anything the experience made me want to strive for more. The manager in me always wants to take over and succeed. But it was an eye opener for me, as all travel should be. Like in so many other aspects of the world, if you don’t change you get left behind. I don’t want my country to be left behind.