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Niagara Falls: between nature and casino

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There are moments in life where words aren’t enough to express beauty.
Visiting the Niagara Falls was one of those.
There were no words in front of the spectacle of nature.
There were no words to describe the sensations of the moment.
There was only silence and awareness of how nature is both powerful and fragile.

Getting there was an adventure.
That morning the alarm didn’t sound and with a monstrous delay, I arrived just in time at the Toronto Coach Terminal at 610 Bay Street to catch the 11.30 public bus that I had booked to get to Niagara. (45 dollar return: economic and effective solution).
The way forward passed pleasantly because the skyscrapers of the metropolis were soon replaced by campaigns, immense rivers and small villages with wooden houses.
Once arrived at the Niagara Terminal, however, surprises began: the bus station isn’t close to the falls, it takes another 20 dollars by taxi, and the city is a small Las Vegas of Canada where everything has a price.

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The waterfalls

Then the waterfalls appeared.
Immense. Powerful. A continuous flow of water and energy.
I was hypnotized, admired, frightened by the grandeur and beauty of nature so powerful yet so fragile because threatened by the man who made it a mere tourist attraction.
Admiring that wall of water that borders an important border between Canada and the United States of America, I imagined the first explorers.
I imagined their reactions to the majesty of those waterfalls today immortalized by thousands of tourists who, after the classic selfie, go to spend entire fortunes in the nearby casinos.
Everything has a price at Niagara Falls: you pay the entrance ticket for the underground tunnel, you pay the ships that accompany you under the waterfall, you pay for souvenirs and food. You pay the funicular to get to the city and pay the ticket to the observation tower to admire the falls from above. You pay a high price to admire a natural wonder that is a heritage of humanity.

Niagara City

I was intrigued by that town halfway between fiction and reality.
Roads, buildings, cars: everything was excessive, everything seemed built only for tourists.
It was like a huge open-air luna park with wax museums, miniature golf with dinosaurs, jousting.
Attractions that lasted the time of a blink of an eye, not like the amazement I had experienced in front of the falls. That one had no words and had no time because I would have stayed for hours looking at them.
While I was there, though, I wanted to see a casino in person.
A huge building with lots of hotels, game rooms, swimming pools, restaurants, and any attraction could keep people from spending inside the building.
Luxury reigned everywhere giving players the illusion of that life they dreamed so much, but for which they were ruining.
The casino was huge, everywhere there were slot machines, dim lights, music, food. A protected environment. A crystal prison.
I didn’t play. I couldn’t do it. I sat on a chair watching an elderly American lady, a hard-hitting player, winning and losing about 200 dollars within 20 seconds.
” Why don’t you play?”
” I don’t have money”
It wasn’t true, but I preferred to keep them to eat pizza and take a taxi back to Niagara bus station.
« I try to be lucky, my dear girl, look I won 500 dollars»
“How long have you been here?”
“I’m here a couple of days, there’s everything I need.”
A cozy place, a place not to feel alone, a place to hope to win something good from life.
Here’s what she meant and at that moment I felt a great sadness.
For her and everyone who sat there to bet on their lives.

Down in the evening, the city was filled with limousines and strobe lights.
I had dinner in a restaurant that had only the Italian name and then, as I managed to lose the last descent of the cable car, I had to run like crazy in the scenic area praying to find a free taxi to take me back to the bus station.
I have always raced in life. Course against the clock.
I was in that situation again. I ran. I was breathing. I ran.
Then in a moment, I stopped because the eye imposed it with my heart.
In the evening the Niagara falls give the best of them because they light up.
White, red, yellow, green, blue. A spectacle of nature emphasized by the knowledge of man.
The walk was filled with lovers. They walked hand in hand, laughed, took pictures and contemplated nature. I stood still, alone, to breathe deeply before running again against the clock and while the taxi was leaving to take me to Toronto, I thought that “There are moments in life where words aren’t enough to express beauty and where emotion is so strong that it deserves to be lived”.

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