So, I landed in Winnipeg tonight, on business. For those of you who might not know, Winnipeg is a city of some 700,000 brave souls living on the lake-studded bedrock deep in the central part of Canada. A city I hardly know and, during my 20 minute cab ride from the airport, it was impressed upon me how little I actually wanted to come to know it. Picture this: bumping along a road that seems like it has just barely survived Armageddon. Ahead of me is a guy with a greasy ponytail in a muscle shirt on a cranky Harley. A blue Charger nudges up beside me, inside another guy with a muscle shirt, tats and a pinky ring blasting some 70’s head-banger fare. My eyes rolling back in my head, I glance over to the right just in time to see a rent-a-cop in front of a dilapidated pawn shop spit on the ground. Could it get any worse?
I wonder then, is this what this year has come to? Our travel austerity having forced me to get my travel kicks in a city whose claim to fame is the fact that Winnie the Pooh was named after it, and that Neil Young kind of, supposedly, perhaps lived here at one point (although, if you couldn’t tell, this hasn’t been verified)?
W. T. H.
But then we approached downtown. And Red River. The sun was starting to set behind the “skyscrapers”. It was 24 degrees C (that’s about 75 F), and people were everywhere. Walking. Biking. Roller-blading (people actually still do that?). Couples and families lying on blankets in the green areas along the river. Teenagers just sitting in cars, their engines idling menacingly. They wave at me as I stroll past, forcing me to do a double take. By now, I have checked into my room, and have taken my camera to stroll across what is a very modern footbridge crossing the river. I pass all-comers, from young to old, out for a stroll in the sunset. I stand there in the warmth, snapping shots, and watching the sun’s waning glow creeping from around the edges of the distant buildings. It’s peaceful.
Maybe Winnipeg won’t be so bad after all, I think. Well, at least I’ll leave my mind open. Paris it is not, but life is full of contrasts! Life’s flavor comes from its variety.
But I do hope I don’t get shot tomorrow.
Till Friday, I hope.