August 20, 2011; distance covered today: 145 km; total:145 km
Day one: It’s Hard to Kick the Habit
At 7 o’clock in the morning, I started my trip to make a loop round Lake Ontario. As always, when I set off on a trip or an adventure, I feel kind of hesitant about doing it. I ask myself, “God, why am I doing this?” And each time I remember my late mother who would shake her head and complain in Persian, “Mag e Majboori Akhe?”, which literally means, “Do you REALLY have to do this? Or “Are you out of your mind?” or something like that. Maybe my buddy, Medio, an official linguist/translator, could help me with this. Anyway… the hesitation usually is for a few minutes or an hour. Like always, soon I was excited and happy to be on the road.
I biked all the way down to Lake shore Road and biked on the bike path which, I thought, would take me to the Niagara Falls. There were a lot of cyclist on the path, many of whom on the opposite direction—toward Lakeshore in Toronto, but no one was on a loaded bike.
Soon I reached Oakville where two cyclists caught up with me and started a small talk. One of them signalled me to ride right behind him to give me a little boost against the somewhat strong headwind. Then we rode together for the next 30 km or so. I double checked the route with them and then somewhere close to Hamilton, they left for home. I was biking alone again. It was very hot, so I would seek shelter every 15 km or so in the shade to cool off and had a sip of water.
Somewhere close to St. Catherine, I had to detour and go West, away from the lake due to road construction. I am pretty sure this change added another 20 km to my original route. Well… I had no choice.
I kept riding and riding not knowing whether I could reach Niagara on The Lake. Given the fact that I had had an early start in the morning, I arrived in Niagara on The Lake at about 7 pm. I first checked thepossibility of wild camping, but I knew it would be impossible. I was in a resortarea with expensive cottages. So I went to a campground which happened to be“the worst ever”. It was very much like a refugee camp, but fancy and flashy.There were RV’s parked in rows next to one another like row houses on narrowalleys. Each alley was named after flowers; Red Rose, Camellia, and so on. Butthe names could not by any means change the picture of the ugly campground. Thestaffs were very unfriendly and I had to pay 20$ as a deposit for the bathroomkey on top of 40$ for the site!! I am absolutely sure the staffs were hopingsomeone to lose the key then they would cut another one for 2$ and pocket 18$.I mean… Who on earth…, which campground on earth would lock the bathroom andask for a deposit for the key? Give me a break. Oh! The campsite itself waslocated on mud—no grass what so ever.
Every cloud has a silver lining. My next-doorneighbors in the campsite were really nice people. The ones on my right, anAmerican couple, slowly walked to my site. We had a little chitchat about travellingby bike and all. They told me that the campgrounds in the States are a lotcheaper and nicer than the one we were staying at. They were very encouragingand said that they wanted travel by bike too. They seemed very serious aboutit. I suggested they read a few books or a couple of Websites before investingin any equipment. Later on, when they wanted to go to the town for a spin, theyasked me if I needed anything they could get me. Oh.. Well… In situations likethis when I am offered something, my Persian side takes over so I decline akind offer. We, Persians or better say Iranians, have something in our culturecalled, “Ta’arof”. It is an unwritten contract which involves extreme “face-saving”actions and reactions. If you want to know more about it, you can read about ithere: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taarof.But suffice to say that according to “ta’arof” the American couple should haveinsisted once or twice. It’s too complicated for non-Persians. This kind ofoffer and decline is everywhere in our culture even when two people are goingthrough a door or an entrance. They, as an act of showing respect, insist onthe other party going through the door first. This offer and decline go on fora couple of times. Once a cute observer asked me if we Iranians are afraid ofdoors!!
In front of my site, there is a very friendly familyfrom Toronto in an RV. They agreed to charge my cellphone and my batteries.
Now I am in my tent, getting ready to sleep. Tomorrowis a big day. My first time crossing a border by bicycle...yoo-hoo. Let’s seeif my birth place on my passport causes me any trouble.