Monday, April 20, 2015

The surprising story of my rejection at the Canada border (part 3)

[A continuation of the story of Canada, with the events that happened on this day last year]

Part 3: Final preparations and setting off

The next day was Easter Sunday. Pastor Eric called me up to the front before the message and announced that I would be going to work with the family he had mentioned who needed help with their homeschooling for a few months. 

Someone in the back said, “Yaaay!” and everyone burst into applause. I felt so valued, so supported, so validated by the church. I knew they wanted me to go, not because they wanted to get rid of me, but because they felt like I would be a valuable addition the household of this family, and they believed in my capacity to do the work. 

Eric prayed for my time in Canada and I went back to my seat. After church, lots of people came up and congratulated me and expressed excitement for what I was doing. They asked when I was leaving, and I said, “Tomorrow.” I said this by faith, because I had so many things still to do, but I thought I might still be able to get it all done.
Story of my life: Sorting through the tornado

Bethany and I went home and ate Easter dinner and then went to my room and talked while I sorted through the tornado that was my room. It was a daunting, overwhelming level of disaster, but I slowly worked through it. It was still not done when I went to bed, so I let the father of the family know that I was slightly delayed and would not be able to leave early in the morning.

Monday morning, April 21, Bethany had the day off work, so she helped me again to get finished sorting through all the stuff. She packed boxes that I couldn’t bring myself to figure out what to do with, labeled things, and stacked everything that was done outside my door. Finally, I was all done. The last bit of luggage was stuffed into the trunk of my car, I had a lunch packed, and I had my directions all written out. 

I left at about 1:30 pm, drove to Mount Rushmore, snapped a couple of quick pictures of the iconic figures carved in stone (somewhat disappointed to note that they seemed much smaller than I had always expected them to be), and stayed the night at a cheap hotel I had reserved in Rapid City, SD.

Funny story about that hotel: it had to have been the worst experience I have ever had at any hotel anywhere (even worse than the cheap hostel I stayed at in Gibraltar--and that was a bad enough story already!). 

I knew it was going to be bad when I walked into the hotel and and the lobby smelled like cigarette smoke and cat pee. I would have walked right back out if it weren't for the fact that my reservation was non-refundable. The front desk clerk informed me that the continental breakfast was canceled and showed me to my "non-smoking" room, which smelled so strongly of smoke that my throat started swelling up. "Oh, well," I thought, "For one night I can stand it."

I got ready for bed early and lay down on the bed. The mattress was lumpy and sagging and sloped towards the floor, so no matter which way I lay, I felt like I would fall off. Therefore, I pulled the sheets and blanket off the bed and slept on the floor, which was infinitely more comfortable due to its consistent firmness. 

As I prepared to grin and bear it for the night, I was contemplating the bad review I was going to write about this hotel, but I said to myself, "I should look for SOMETHING positive to say. At least it's quiet." 

I was just dropping off to sleep when somebody pounded loudly on my door. So much for it being quiet. "Who's there?" I said, jumping up. No answer. I looked out the peephole. No one in sight. I lay back down on the floor. Five minutes later, BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG. They were at it again, pounding as if with the flat of their hand with great force on my door. What in the world was this? I was annoyed. "Who is there?" I yelled indignantly. Again, no answer. I looked out the peephole. Again, no one in sight, but it sounded like a faint moaning sound was coming from near the floor. Now I was really awake. I called the front desk. "Someone is pounding on my door," I said. "Can you please take a look in the hallway and see what is going on?" I heard a man come up to the hallway and talk with the person on the floor. "Oh, it's you." They had a conversation that sounded like they were on a first-name basis with each other and the guy left the person there. Bizarre. 

It took me a long time to fall asleep after that. Around 4:15 in the morning, the guest in the room next to mine woke me up with incessant coughing (no doubt due to the wretched air quality) with a loud, throaty, guttural cough that literally sounded as if they must be dying. The smell in the air made it unbearable to stay in the room any longer, so I hurried to get my stuff and leave. 

And then, if it wasn't already bad enough, I found I had received one additional gift in the night: bedbug bites. Fortunately I had taken the precautions of setting my luggage up on the luggage rack, so I successfully got away without any little hidden hitchhikers, but I was never so happy to be rid of a place in my life. 


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