The Herald

My first time . . .

Mirirai Nsingo
Whenever one visits a foreign land, there’s a longing to experience the uniqueness of that particular country; what separates it from where you call home. That way alone can you say, with satisfaction that you indeed have travelled beyond your borders.

They often say when in Rome do as the Romans do. I was in Amsterdam a week ago and I felt a compelling desire to, to some extent, live up to that maxim.

To convince myself that I could pull this off, I recited “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. But again the journalist in me just can’t keep a juicy piece a secret for long. I’ll spit it out.

After three days of serious business at the just ended International Aids Conference in Amsterdam, it was time to explore Amsterdam.

Two possible experiences popped up, the Red Light District and of course the coffee shops. These two things add to the city’s attraction and are “wonders” worthy to be explored when in this part of Europe.

Coffee shops are where one can legally do “soft” drugs, buying and smoking weed, hash and eating space cakes.

A male colleague of mine was, for obvious reasons, more interested in the Red Light District and I wasn’t.

I wouldn’t have been and I wouldn’t be remotely interested in seeing half nude women in small shop windows peddling their flesh. Maybe if they were men, just maybe, my fancy would have been tickled.

So we set off, to explore the heartbeat of Netherlands.

As I walked into a coffee shop located in the Red Light District around 9pm, it was already night in Amsterdam but looked like day because of lighting and in summer the city only gets dark after 10pm. Amazing huh!

I looked over my shoulders to watch for police as my conscience told me what I was about to do was illegal.

These two things add to the city’s attraction and are “wonders” worthy to be explored

33-years of being told Sativa is illegal can’t be shrugged off by just an over 10 hour flight from Harare to Amsterdam. I still beat my conscience and braved my way into the coffee shop, accompanied by my colleague who gave me strength insisting that we should “go for it”.

We approached the coffee shop attendant who gave us the “menu” to check what was on offer and select what I preferred. I still kept on looking around me, to check if I would bump into any familiar faces while I was selecting from the menu.

Like they say, there is a first time for everything, its either you love it or hate it. So much had been said about weed let alone about weed in the Netherlands and I knew so little about it until I tried it. So the coffee shop attendant helped with recommendations on what I should take, as a first timer and was both patient, friendly as he made the recommendations.

As a novice, the attendant asked if we wanted to try smoking or space cakes and I insisted on both. The space cake costs €6,50 and the smoke joint was going for €8,00 as we opted for the strong one.

He recommended that as a newbie, I try something less strong but I insisted on the “space cake” and the joint. After all “I’m from Africa, I can handle anything,” I told myself. I went for both. The space cake tasted really good and had the bigger chunk of it. I enjoyed every bite, and took a bit longer than I anticipated before I started feeling “high”.

Then the joint smelled so good and I enjoyed each puff although I kept coughing in between as I tried inhaling the smoke. I even started wheezing due to the smoke, but still I would not let €8,00 go to waste, we had to finish the joint.

Then I started feeling so relaxed, rejuvenated and yes I would not keep quiet and said all sorts of senseless things. And then literally almost everything seemed funny to me, I could not stop giggling. I think I giggled all the time.

Sensing the loss of sanity, my colleague suggested we leave for the hotel, after all, it was already after midnight. And we initially had an early day scheduled the following day.

I insisted we walk to our hotel, which was located more than 4km from the Red Light District although he had opted for a taxi. To avoid argument, we walked. I had so much energy, I swear I could walk the whole night.

We walked back and luckily I miraculously reached the hotel. If I were to say I know how I got back into my room, I would be lying, for all I know, I woke up the following day after 12 noon. I was so hungry. The space cake and the joint were stronger than I thought. The novice in me underestimated it after all.

So please if you want to try, my recommendation is don’t try both, and if it’s your first time, the coffee shop attendant will be glad to assist you. And if you can, perhaps don’t try it at all because from what I learnt, there is no such thing as a “soft drug!”