Yes folks, the first quarter of 2012 is over and I have yet to see signs of the ending of the world..
It’s the month of May and this marks about 2 years since I visited the land of milk and honey.
I’ve been to this place in Holland called Amsterdam. I made this pilgrimage back in 2010 and my stay was for 4 or 5 days. It was an interesting place to be, and I had to go then before it was too late.
You see, in 2008 I missed out on a trip with a few of my friends and colleagues from my art school during the Easter break. The second trip I missed out on was with a few good friends of mine from outside of school, that was in 2009. The reasons I missed out on these wonderful opportunities was largely to do with the lack of visa which would allow me to travel to the EU nations. On both of these missed occasions I was reasonably out of sorts.
All the while I’m hearing, “You better try to visit soon, they’re talking about putting a law in place to disallow tourists from patronising the coffee shops etc.” – Each time I thought it was going into effect in the same year I would hear this. 2010 came around, and so did the EU visa exemption for certain of us Caribbean nations. I alerted my friends and after very little planning, we were going to ‘Dam.
My dream was to come true.
Yes, we went to the land of milk and honey.
On the short yet mentally (it seems long when you’re antsy to try this legal cannabis) long train trip from the airport to the centre of the city, I saw the Ajax football stadium and I saw the Heineken factory where they hold tours etc. It’s funny though, I told my friend that we should visit. He didn’t say anything, for good reason too. He knew what was to come, after he’d been to the country several times.
Those days all rolled into one, and my memories of the time are hazy like the amnesia I rolled up. I still remember the first J that I drew on that one of my friends who had arrived a day earlier, had passed to me as I stepped through the door of Hunter’s Coffee shop.
I suppose it would be needless to say but Hunter’s was a pretty chill spot, I still remember a sign with rules on it and a ‘no smoking’ sign which applied to that of cigarettes. I remember being very amused.
The city itself was different from any other I’ve been to before, apart from obvious reasons. Being perpetually high, I suppose helps. We stayed in a little hostel opposite Grasshopper which was like a three-story building or something with a restaurant, a coffee shop and some other fuck which isn’t clear in my head currently, it was a stone’s throw away from Baba’s, another shop which I’m sure I went to on more than one occasion.
I recall my friends who were staying at another hostel which was further away from us and the centre, got lost at the end of the first night, they’re second night mind you. We tried to help them for a while but being the kites that we were decided to call it a night and left them to find it on their own. We had sleeping to do, so we could wake up, bake up and continue our high pilgrimage.
I also remember the food, there was a lot of fast food which was useful as hell. We took a little walk after our morning session. Then we went to a little bistro and I had a lobster sandwich, which at the moment I declare was the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Whether or not it is, could probably be disputable.
I found that time to be very surreal though.
It was like the city of the future in my high mind.
The day before we left, I had jousted with the Amnesia Haze (this I can still remember clearly) and it put me out for the count. Slept in a puddle of drool I made for myself while in the comatose state that the haze put me in. My good friend was there watching some amusing action film from the 90’s but I couldn’t manage. When I awoke I saw another friend of ours there in the room also watching whatever it was on the tv. We all had a laugh because I looked like such a confused mess at this point with saliva just dropping out the corner of my mouth.
The final day was pure sorrow. I didn’t want to leave, it felt wrong. I felt like I was losing a best friend. Alas it was time to go. I remember people telling me that 3 days was enough for them and kinds of folly. For me, the rest of my life would have been sufficient.
I can’t clearly remember all that I consumed, but I remember it was all good. From the space cake to the bubble hash. Ak-47 was sweet as well. Amnesia Haze stood out the most to me though, apart from that my mind is a blank. I also remember not getting run over by trams and traffic that went in the opposite direction to what I’m used to. But nearly had done so on several occasions.
Bottom line was, it was a great place to be if ganja is your thing, and of course legalised prostitution. Which I won’t bother to go into any detail of.
So yes, that was my lovely time in a country where all were welcome to come an enjoy the wonderful flowers with no harassment at all.
For most of that journey if not all, the skies weren’t much unlike those of London at the time. It was quite grey but not too chilly. I understood they had a few museums there as well; The Cannabis Museum, The Sex Museum and the Van Gogh Museum…none of which I actually managed to visit. Hahaha, higghhh guuuuy.
Now meanwhile, as the world continues to spin off its axis…
Presently, I can’t think of any reason to go back there in future once the ban is put into full effect. I’m sure by now most of you have heard of this law they’re passing which would bar tourists from partaking in any ganja activities, specifically entering coffee shops and buying herbs.
But you can still visit the country, hit up the bars and drink loads of beer I suppose. Disturb the peace and all that we do in the rest of the world.
A lot of the locals are against (hardly surprising) this “weed pass” law however.
“The legislation, which will be implemented nationwide next year and only permits people with registered “weed passes” to purchase the drug, rolls back the Netherlands’ traditionally lax policies by clamping down on the millions of “drug tourists” who flock every year to the country.”
Why do you suppose the locals are up in arms?
If I was to surmise; I mentioned already that the city of Amsterdam itself is a decent city, nice buildings/architecture etc. The weather isn’t exactly what you’d go to a country specifically for. Yes there are a few attractions, I’m sure a few more other than the one’s mentioned (apart from the cafes and red light district) such as the museums et al.
In these days of rather harsh economic plight, I can’t imagine the money brought into Holland through drug tourism could have hardly been doing the country a lot of harm in the realms of commerce and that.
Marc Josemans, head of Maastricht’s coffee shop association, said that in recent weeks drug dealers from northern France, Belgium and eastern Europe had started plying their trade in the streets.
“Now this is totally new for Maastricht, we never had this problem, so actually we are creating more problems than we are solving,” he said.
So that’s another issue which was tackled when they had made it legal. Took the criminal element off the streets but lo and behold, here the criminals return to sell weed on the streets, along with hard drugs and the like.
I guess they’ll be reopening all those prisons they recently had to shut down due to lack of criminals. Netherlands to close prisons for lack of criminals :: archief nrc.nl.
Is this starting to sound like a bad idea to anyone?
“We are being forced to discriminate against foreigners.”
I’m accustomed to foreigners complaining about the discrimination they receive from locals, not the locals complaining about having to discriminate against foreigners. Sure it’s in a different context but still, geez.
The world is truly spinning off its axis.
In conclusion, it seems that this new and disgusting conservative government is interested in shooting itself in its ecconomic foot. The model the Netherlands had, was like two steps forward and now they’re going, not one but several steps back.
For the record I live on an island where cannabis is still very illegal and still very much misunderstood. The myths surrounding the plant are still alive and kicking. Most people I meet and have met from overseas usually assume that where I’m from, ganja is legal and they are always surprised when I tell them, “unfortunately not.”
This island I live on is like everywhere else, suffering from a hard felt recession. We still get our fair share of tourists mind you, they come for the Sun, the Sand and the Sea. They also come for the rum I’m sure and to a far lesser extent some come for sex tourism (illegal also) mind you.
The way I see it, if weed was legal here. We’d have one booming tourism industry, I think anyway. If people were going to Holland before, which has neither the beaches and sea like we do, nor the weather/climate but attracting loads of foreigners from far and wide for the sake of cannabis. I could only imagine what we’d be like.
To those who are still clueless, the island would be one of great immorality. A paradise and safe haven for others. With legalisation of one would mean legalisation of the other (not referring to drugs now) i.e. Hemp. Forget the sugar industry which is becoming worse and worse. Replace those cane fields with hemp and create a whole new industry down here with a lot of scope and possibilities for export…
Sorry, fantasy land is a place that I often reside.
Next post, I’ll actually explain the story behind today’s illustrations which may not have all seemed all the relevant to this post. They are actually originally pieced together in comic form with gutters separating each panel (illustration). Trying another hand at some Sequential Art. I’m also looking to expand on this style of digital painting where I build on strong colour.
So yes, Raymond Pettibon and Roy Lichtenstein will be most likely be our featured artists next (week).
I’ve got a tune for you lot, a tune that a friend of mine linked me with. It’s a nice easy breezy sort of tune. Actually quite beautiful, I find.
I think a lot of you out there might appreciate this. I absolutely love the picture of the humming bird fuxing with the cannabis flower.
Aright, the rain is falling so I’m gonna get above these clouds here so now.