Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Borderland - Windsor and Detroit - part one

I’ve been reading a memoir of growing up white and working class in the Detroit of the 1970s and 80s. This was a child and early adulthood as Detroit became the city of the terrible example, of ‘white flight’, corruption, appalling levels of crime and rust belt collapse. 

By coincidence came plans for a reunion with friends and former colleagues in Windsor, a Canadian city bordering the bankrupt American basket case.

There is little more satisfying than packing light and, instead of an extortionate taxi to the airport, walking to the subway about thirty seconds from my home. 

A quick scan of the front page and I’m at Toronto’s main railway station. This reminds me of a trip once taken to Europe. Subway; train to Montreal; freighter to Europe and back; train; subway; home. No loathsome airports, security checks or planes.

$90 books business-class on the train to Windsor. This includes a gin-and-tonic before lunch, glass or two of wine, more than adequate meal, and restful chair from which to take in the prosperous, albeit flat and boring, southwest Ontario countryside. 

Four hours and eleven minutes later, I’m in Windsor with a ten minute taxi ride to a downtown hotel. Just along the street is the Detroit River and, on the far side, what was once one the largest cities in the United States, now a shell of its former self.

The impressive towers form a Potemkin Village, for beyond the skyscraper wall lies a wasteland.

However, for now, Windsor.