With a friend in tow I packed my bags and found myself looking at the low-rise buildings on the streets of Amsterdam. I was keen to discover her secrets which in my mind meant culture, weed and magic mushies… not necessarily in that order.
After a short rest and checking out the Anne Frank museum followed by the Sex museum we felt like a coffee and a joint at one of the celebrated cafes was in order. Being only 22 we were dumfounded by the showcase of weed in so many different forms being paraded in front of our noses by seemingly respectful adults and for so cheap!
The kind counter-lady asked us the question “have you smoked weed before?” Pffff we puffed out our chests…
“Of course! We’re seasoned smokers from Australia! We’ll take the strongest stuff you’ve got!”
She suggested that perhaps this weed might be different from our usual harvest and we should try some nice mellow weed and next time move up?
“No way” We piped up. “What’s the strongest stuff you have? We smoke heaps!”
The lady reluctantly pulled out some kind of cancerous looking bud that looked more like I imagined rocky kryptonite would look like. What the hell… Perfect we thought… rolled a joint and toked away…
My memory is somewhat hazy at this point but I believe I left to the toilet with my heart pounding in my chest and the room blurring at the edges. What seemed like only 5 – 10 minutes later I hear a knock on the door. It’s the kind lady from the counter. “Are you OK?” “Not really” I squeaked. “My heart is racing and I can’t find the handle on the door to get out.” After some guidance she had me open the door and helped me slowly stumble into a very cold dark room. I noticed other people in the room lying down, crying, laughing, hugging, kissing and finally my friend looking scared and sweating in the corner. “Here is your friend” she said. “You’ve smoked too much and you need to relax. Everything will be OK…”
What seemed like many hours later we started talking quietly as our hearts slowed and we began to feel better. We heard others talking and something familiar rang through our ears. That twang accent… Aussies, every single person in the room was an Aussie. 10 of us in all. This poor lady, no matter how much she tried to persuade us, Aussies always asked for the strong stuff and she always had to lead them into the quiet cold room to recover. I still think of that lady from time to time as my Amsterdam mother and how patient she was with all of us! “Next time you’re in Amsterdam…. Try the mellow weed.”
Lesson learnt you would think right? Ummmm no…. magic mushies were next on my list. Having never tried any hallucinogenic substances in my life coupled with my previous experience with the joints, we took the counter man’s advice and took the Hawaiians, one up from the Mexicans which apparently just made you giggle. We excitedly marched them back to our bed and breakfast room which was an amazing cute little place ran by a mother and daughter team.
We hastily ate the horrible mouldy looking mushrooms which made us feel sick but we’d been told about this. “Don’t be sick, it’s all normal and will pass.” Have you ever had that feeling when you first drink and look at a friend and ask “Can you feel anything?” We both busted out into uncontrollable stomach cramping belly laughter that couldn’t be stopped! I had to hide under the doona to stop Anita from laughing. The site of each other would incite violent giggles far worse than any school girl could bring forth!
We managed to stop laughing and looked at the world which was now all colourful and magic. We possibly even stared straight at led down lights for some time thinking they were angels… Then we decided, Yep, cigarettes would be required and fast! But how to escape the mother and daughter without them knowing we’re flying high? The answer? Bolt!! Run as fast as you can out the front door. Oh dear, we were terrible… I can’t imagine what they must have thought calmly watching TV?
We’re now out the front of a pizza shop playing paper/scissors/rock to see who can stop laughing and go inside and get cigarettes. I lost, so with a huge grin I put on my serious face and wondered inside cupping the handful of silver and gold sparkling in my hands. Strange machine no coin slot? In fact it was just a black metal box with no features of any kind. After some time trying to find a coin slot, the pizza guy held my hand and moved it into the black gravestone and dropped each coin one by one. Then they appeared the cigarettes from a little cave inside. He must have to help often, I thought.
With cigarettes in hand I walk out to find Anita standing in the middle of the road pulling on a tram track rail?! I hand her a cigarette and start helping her pull on the tram track asking what she had lost. She calmly explained that hidden under the tracks where they made triangles there were the yummiest chocolates ever made!
I’m not sure how many cigarettes we smoked or how long we tried to pull up the tram tracks but I’m glad the hardware store we found was closed and didn’t allow us to buy a bar to lever the chocolates out. It was a fairy tale kind of night I’ll never forget.
Thank you Amsterdam for your kindness and patients. We will love you always…