i finally took a vacation in may, a roadtrip from troy, ny to montreal, quebec. i loaded up my rented kia optima with snacks and settled in for the 3.5h drive up i-87 not knowing what was on the road ahead. the drive was marked by rain, not blinding but enough to have the wipers moving at a steady clip. cell coverage was spotty in some areas and i lost connection to my sister as we yammered on about everything and nothing. imagine basalt rock cliffs, deep valleys, and bridges covering bodies of water like picturesque fishing holes for campers. rugged terrain flanked the highway to the east and west, high bluffs and craggy rocks, like a volcano erupted eons before dynamite was set to cut a highway connecting the u.s. with canada.
i arrived on saturday evening, toured the city all day sunday and monday, walking nearly 10 miles each day exploring old montreal, the basilica, chinatown, and finally climbing stairs and switchbacks to reach the chalet du mont royal for a spectacular view of the city. gazing at the cityscape through evergreens reminded me of views of portland and beaverton from council crest.
although montreal is our neighbor, it is in another country and as this was my foray into experiencing a non-domestic solo trip and i’m proud to say i did it! i don’t speak french (yet) and any concerns i had about not speaking the language were quickly assuaged when i arrived at my 21st floor airbnb condo. the concierge at the adjacent embassy suites hotel advised me to head to rue st-paul where i’d find a plethora of gastronomic brassieres. sans a jacket, i headed into the rain and stumbled into mangiafoco, got a table for one, and enjoyed delicately fried artichokes with béchamel sauce. dinner was cannelloni with housemade sausage. the dj had to know i was coming because he played all the jams i listened to in college and some new school sounds that had me swaying as i sipped a full-bodied merlot.
sadly, civil unrest and crime do not take a vacation. after two days of exploring i prepared to chart my course back to albany and googled the border delay i experienced that re-routed me to hemmingford. i learned there was an immigration protest (for and against) at the canadian border. fortunately, no one was injured and the demonstration was cleared for my return to new york. it’s troubling to know that within and outside the us, humans are fighting about the survival and support of other humans. these people are not animals to be caged, they are humans in search of a better life. if they have traveled as far north as canada, they, like so many sojourners traversing harriet’s underground railroad, are in search of safety, protection, hope. instead they are met with vitriol, resistance, and despair.
sisters, we are watching the world unravel on cable news. we are seeing the president spew hate speech and cast a wide net to capture as many weak minds as possible in supporting his faulty view on immigration. those of us who carry blue passports can travel freely, experience new foods, cultures and languages, only to be reminded of the ugly realities our fellow sisters are facing at these same borders. collectively our votes have power and we can alter the road ahead for so many immigrants by going to the polls and making our voices heard.