Crossings

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  • Published 20100907
  • ISBN: 9781921656170
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

THE PASSAGE FROM the small island city of Victoria to Vancouver across the Strait of Georgia was a ferry ride of nearly two hours. The British Columbia Ferry was a leviathan of a ship, its carrying capacity impressive. The lower decks were crammed with vehicles: automobiles, trucks and, on the very bottom, semi-trailers and full-size passenger coaches. So many vehicles, each weighing more than a tonne; only the top two decks reserved for human cargo. Yet I trusted it not to sink as I trust an airplane to fly, because movement is essential to life, one of its seven characteristics, and there are only a few days each year when the weather is too stormy for the ferries to make the crossing.

Vancouver loomed in the distance. I had been there briefly in 1958 on my way to Australia and then it was a staggeringly beautiful place, but people had told me it had changed. There’s a part I was warned to avoid; another passenger marked it on the map. But what made me nervous that day was the sense that I was travelling backwards. I was on my way to the US consulate to lodge an application for my American passport, the passport that was taken away from me a quarter of a century before.

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