Sunday, May 20, 2007

Amsterdam - First Backpacking Trip - Day 2

I drifted in and out of a shallow sleep for the rest of the night. Being right next to the bar, my head was filled with reggae and R&B for the entire night, interspersed with the sounds of muted conversation and laughter coming through the walls. I felt close to the action. It seemed that the fun continued 24/7, that someone was having fun at all hours of the night. I was also awakened by my roommates returning late from the bars, and we exchanged greetings as people came in the room.

I woke the next morning just in time to catch the end of breakfast. Walking out, I saw one of my roommates and decided to sit with him. Groggy from the jet lag, we talked about what to expect while backpacking and some of his adventures. He was a very interesting person, an Indian who went to school in England. He told me his stories of horseback riding in Northern India, near the base of the Himalayas. He told me about how riding through the forests, he would not see anyone for days at a time. I was entranced by his stories of adventure and exploration. He was very mature and seemed to have experienced a lot. His stories roused my sense of adventure, and I realized that I would be unhappy with my life unless I have some of my own adventures in the future.

By 2pm, Soutrik and Barro were finally ready. I noticed that whenever I go on trips, I seem to always be the one with the most energy, always ready to go and explore. I seem to have a lot of energy while travelling, and can never wait to explore new places. Following a suggestion from Alma, our Canadian roommate, we headed off to the Twin Dolphins coffeeshop for their tea. Now, for the ones who are unfamiliar with the terms, a cafe in Amsterdam is a bar, and a coffeeshop is an establishment that deals solely in marijuana. Seeing that I am in Amsterdam, and that I had never been high before, I figure I'd go for it since I believe that people should experience as much as they can in their lives, as long as it is safe and does not harm others. On the way over, we explored the market and stopped off for some lunch, where I tried a kroket sandwich.

Entering the twin dolphins, we ordered their tea, a hot chocolate served with a tea ball filled with tea and marijuana leaves. We sat downstairs in their lounge, which was very well decorated with ocean themes. There were great murals and aquariums on the wall. The downstairs was extremely thick with smoke, and even if you didn't have anything yourself, the smoke was thick enough to relax you after a few minutes down there. Soutrik and I sat down there, sipping on our tea and chatting with our friends for a hour or so. The tea tasted like skunky hot chocolate.

After an hour, with the tea gone, and still not feeling anything other than begin somewhat relaxed, we wondered if we were doing something wrong. I had been warned that the effects were slower to start when eating marijuana, but after over an hour and still not feeling anything, we weren't sure if we didn't have enough since we had shared one tea between the two of us, as suggested. To try the get the maximum effect, we tried to shake some of the strands our of the metal tea ball and drink them with the tea. Soutrik decided to have another, but I convinced him that we probably should take it slow, and maybe we just needed to build it up in our systems over a few days.

Arriving back in our room, Soutrik and I sat down to chat, while Barro decided to go take a nap in his room, where he was forced to move due to the amount of people staying at the hostel. About about five minutes of sitting around, it suddenly hit us like us running in to a brick wall. It was amazing how fast the effect came! It is very difficult to describe what it feels like, but everything that people say about being high is true! Everything starts taking on extra significance, and you can see strange, very fluid visualizations everywhere. Soutrik and I talked very fast for a while, and then I found it very enjoyable just to sit quietly with your eyes closed, where you can see colourful shapes all around. I wondered if this was why meditation was so popular with the group of people who often used marijuana.

The experience was very interesting. I had visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations. I can even see whatever I talked about, even if it was an abstract idea! Very strange! But is was very different from being drunk in the fact that you can control all of it. I found this to be the most interesting part of the experience. Especially when the effects were starting to ware off, I'd get lost in my thoughts, but as soon as I realized that I was high, everything became crystal clear, as if I was under no influence at all. At the same time, everything in the past would seem as if it was a dream, so I would never be sure if I said what I said, even if I had stopped talking just a second ago! All in all, a very interesting experience.

After about two hours, two new roommates came in our room to settle down. Thinking back, they were both extremely high themselves, but of course, we didn't realize it at the time as we were trying to hide the fact that we were high. I'm not sure why we needed to hide it since everyone else around us was high, but the paranoia from the marijuana probably had something to do with it. We started talking to the two who had just come in and started introducing ourselves. Suddenly, Soutrik, visibly distraught, said to me very urgently "Let's go. Let's go for a walk." Thinking that Soutrik just didn't want them to know we were high, we decided to leave the room and take a walk in the dark of the Voldelpark beside the hostel. As soon as we stepped out, Soutrik said to me "Dude, you know why I wanted to get out of there? I-I think they were trying to rob us! They were asking all of these questions like 'what's your name' and 'where are you from.' I think they're trying to get our information so they can rob our homes while we're not there!" At that point, I started getting worried, but just to reassure Soutrik, I responded "You know, I think you're just thinking that because of the pot. It makes you paranoid." As soon as I said that, Soutrik stopped, looked at me, and said "You're absolutely right!" And that's when we both cracked up as we realized they they weren't trying to rob us after all.

For the next hour, we walked around the Voldelpark and up to Lidesplein. Finding ourselves somewhat hungry, we bought some warm, freshly made oliebollen from a stall. We scarfed it down, thinking that it was the best pastry we had ever ate! I still remember how absolutely delicious the oliebollens were! Unfortunately, after that day, we were never able to find oliebollen, or really, any food, nearly as delicious as the ones we had that night.

For the rest of the night, we just hung around the bar and kitchen, chatting with the other guests. We also saw a cat asleep in the basket of free bread, which we thought to be very cute. Just chilling out and enjoying the music and company of other backpackers, and taking an occasional puff from a blunt being passed around, we had a very relaxing and social night. That night, I finally recovered from my jet lag, and had a very good 7 hours of sleep, maybe partially thank for the marijuana that was still sure to be in my system.