I entered New York State on Friday, April 17.
Arrived in Toronto the next day.
North American route is over. Along with it, some other things also came to an end. I now know that I’m leaving this continent and riding back home is not a plausible option anymore. The luxuries and conveniences of being in this side of the world are going to fade away slowly. One specific characteristic of this journey is that it began from Los Angeles, a city that symbolizes the ultimate edge of western civilization. As I move forward, this system of values and everything that comes with it, will slowly degrade to the point of becoming unrecognizable, meaningless. This is neither something to look forward to, nor to complain about. It’s just something to go through and be aware of.
Two weeks into the trip and I’m already losing some conveniences that were a part of my life for a long time. The data plan on my cellphone is too expensive to use overseas. The camera I’ve been using is not functioning properly. The maps on my GPS are useless. So on and so forth. Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to hold on to them. Get new maps, look for Wi-Fi spots, replace the camera… In the end, I intend to finish this trip on a motorcycle in one piece. There is no point in being submissive just because I feel a little resistance. I’m saying these things because I know there is an exciting aspect of losing and being lost. Exposure is vital when you want to keep in touch with the world around. It’s just harder to define the counter force and that definition is just as necessary.
I’ve been in Toronto for a few days now. I crossed the Canadian border without much difficulty. It was an astonishing border considering that it’s defined by one of the most amazing bodies of water known as the Niagara Falls. I don’t know how the people of Niagara can manage to operate their businesses and attend their daily lives right next to such an amazing natural phenomenon. Crossing the bridge from United States to Canada feels very insignificant when you imagine 200 thousand cubic feet of water flowing underneath you in just one second. There are so many people standing along the rails, eagerly waiting their turns to get a proper view of the falls, that it feels like the water may stop flowing at any moment. Almost as if an accident happened just a second ago and people are gathering around the scene. In a weird way, I felt a little embarrassed to observe and photograph the falls. Similar to how I felt when I saw a man with a deformed face among the crowd, and when he looked back at me.
The other thing that was as impressive as the falls to me was seeing the monument of Nikola Tesla on the American side of the falls. Tesla, the son of electricity, as he came to be known; was one of the last inventors who did not see any boundaries between disciplines and created amazing works that transcend beyond his time. Some of his inventions are hard to conceive even by today’s standards. To me, he represents an understanding of life that’s been eliminated long ago by commercial rivals such as Thomas Edison. Part of the ugly campaign against Tesla included the public electrocution of an elephant to terrorize people against his new and better system of electric distribution. It worked.
After losing support, Tesla spent his remaining years in a New York hotel room talking to pigeons, never having the opportunity to realize his most important inventions. Surprisingly, these final designs and calculations had disappeared from his hotel room immediately after his death. The only appreciation he got in his lifetime was the ‘Edison Award’, which of course he kindly refused.
I don’t know if it’s the pigeons running around the sculpture or the expression on his face, but there is a sadness in this monument. In either case seeing him sitting right beside the falls, somewhat relieved me.
Ironically, here I am sitting in this hotel room in Toronto waiting for my flight for the past few days. There aren’t any pigeons to talk to. I don’t even have my motorcycle because I took it to the cargo terminal yesterday. Luckily I stocked some frozen food the day before because the hotel is located in a remote area, away from the city. I was completely ready to be submerged in my own little drama and loneliness until I received a call from a man named Ross Davidson. He was responding to the Horizons Unlimited message I had posted earlier and forgotten about. Ross is a very experienced motorcycle traveler. He has attended tours in very distant locations including Vietnam and Thailand, did a solo trip to South America and recently finished a tour of Europe with his lovely wife Maria on two F650’s. You can read about these journeys on the HU website. Within the few hours we spent together yesterday at the hotel’s lobby, I learned so much about their travel experiences that I was dying for more… Luckily, they called again today and invited me to dinner at their place. Ross picked me up on his way from work. Maria’s brother in law, Lui and their children were also there. Soon enough I found myself enjoying a happy crowded family moment. Everyone had something to share. Lui and I have the exact same bike so there was a lot to talk about that too… The daughters were the only ones on the table who did not ride motorcycles, but apparently they had developed a special tolerance to ‘bike-talk’.
In a very unexpected way, what marked the first two weeks of this journey was not the geography or the road. It was the people. Bintuğ, Savaş, Docker, Esra, Efe, Fırat, Mary, Okonkwo, David, Ross, Maria, Lui… Looking back at the map, I see their faces and the moments we lived together more than anything else. So much for traveling alone…
Tomorrow evening, I’m flying to London. I have to remember to ride on the left side… On a bike, it’s easy to forget…