Vancouver Jumping the Border

Jumping the Border to Vancouver

“What is the purpose of your visit?” asked the man in the booth, and I shrugged.

“Lunch,” I said. “Just thought I’d pop over for an hour or so.”

To border guards, this is not an acceptable answer. “Business” is a proper response. Or “vacation.” I should have luggage and an itinerary in hand. Anything else arouses suspicion.

And so I’ve learned to lie. This last visit, I invented an old high school friend who was meeting me somewhere.

Into Vancouver

I love the American Northwest but, even more, I love Vancouver. The sky seems brighter above the border, the hills less jagged, the pedestrians more conscientious. I drove in spirals, getting lost along the city’s districts as they’re vivisected by bridges and highways.

Lunchtime traffic was slow. I carefully watched the smaller “Km/H” numbers on my speedometer and pressed radio buttons until I found a French-language R&B station.

I parked near Chinatown, outside a restaurant advertising food from Sri Lanka. I’d never even heard of Sri Lankan food. I walked inside and mispronounced something off the menu.

Cricket was on the TV. I stared at the front counter, reading the unfamiliar brand names of chocolate bars. I was half-listening to every conversation in the building, simply basking in the varieties of accents and snippets of other lives.

Vancouver Proves Worth the Jump

This is the sort of moment I can’t explain to a border guard. I can’t tell him I’m most comfortable when out of my element. I can’t say I forget who I am until I’m surrounded by strangers. Lost in a strange city may as well be my living room. This is what makes me happy. This is what makes me me.

My lunch arrived, a large, flat fried thing with three cups of sauces along the sides. I had no idea how to eat it, but I grinned as I realized it’s just food. There’s no wrong way to eat food.

I ate quickly because I needed to get back on the road. I needed to find my way back to the highway and hurry back down to the border. I needed to lie my way back into my home country. No, I didn’t bring anything with me. No, I’m not taking anything back. I just wanted lunch.

For more about Vancouver, British Columbia
For more about Canada

Written by Brian C. Baer
Brian C. BaerAfter living abroad in Prague and Manchester, UK, Brian C. Baer has returned home to the Pacific Northwest. He works as a freelance writer and blogs about travel and geeky things at briancbaer.wordpress.com.