Sunday, August 20
Is everybody on vacation? Why do so many people decide to go on holiday in August? Normally, around this time of year I start planning a holiday. I don't ever go anywhere, because if you are a resident here I think it is illegal to leave the town in July and August. You must stay and work and jostle with the sweaty crowds of tourists every day.
So last August I planned a 3 week stay in Jamaica. I found a choice of apartments to stay in, I planned trips around the island, visits to the waterfalls, inland jungle treks and mountain climbs. We were going to kayak down rivers, climb the Dunns River Falls and drink Red Stripe beer on the white sandy beaches, dance in the moonlight to BeenieMan and Bob Marley and get our hair braided in a local market.
We never actually went, it would have been far too expensive, but it was fun planning it. In fact, if you don't count going to England (which I don't, because it is going home, not going on holiday), Carlo and I have only been away twice together. The first time was when I was 7 months pregnant. We went to Sharm el Sheik for a week. Everybody stared at my fat belly, as if they had never seen a pregnant women before. I caught a bad cold and sneezed a lot. Every time I sneezed I wet myself, due to baby pressing on my bladder, and had to dash back to the hotel to change my knickers. It was a strange holiday, no alcohol, no dangerous activites and a stomach that rippled and moved as I lay on the sunlounger.
Two years later, while in England I found a cheap weekend deal to Amsterdam. We offloaded the baby on my willing parents and headed joyously to the airport. Now, I had been to Amsterdam on various occasions, and have nothing against the local custom of grass smoking in the coffeeshops. But, smoking grass would make me forget things. In fact, I once asked a local guy if he had ever been to Amsterdam. He looked at me in amazement and said, “but, Nicki, we went together, by ferry, don't you remember?”
Er, no. Sorry, slipped my mind that one.
So, this time, being a sensible adult, a mother(!), and being with goody two shoes Carlo who had never even seen a joint before he met me, we decided to do Amsterdam straight. No coffeeshops.
On the first day we went shopping in H&M for the kids, we visited the sex museums and a couple of art galleries. We went on a walk suggested in my guide book, came across a large market and rummaged through the stalls.
That evening we ate dinner in an Argentinian Steak house, and then I introduced him to the red light district. He was in heaven. Girls! Lots of them! All standing in windows in their underwear, caressing themselves, eyeing him through the window. He wanted to take photos so I had to explain to him that he would probably get beaten up by the heavies if he so much as turned on the camera.
We wandered for a bit and then I saw it, my old haunt, Coffeeshop69, graffiti ridden, half hidden in a haze of yellow smoke. Carlo was curious and wanted to see how it worked, so we stepped inside. I showed him how you could go to the bar and order a drink and a ready rolled joint. I showed him down to the end of the room where there was a little kiosk with a guy sitting on a stool and a menu, where you could choose and order your preferred smoke.
We ended up sharing a joint with two English girls. As we chatted I noticed that Carlo had gone very quiet. I looked at him, his face was white. I took him to the bathroom where he sat for 10 minutes trying to convince me that it was the food he ate on the plane that must have made him ill, because (according to him) grass has no effect on him. Yeah, right. He then perked up and spent the next hour skipping through piazzas, swinging around lampposts, singing out loud and giggling like a girl. We finally arrived at the hotel where he devoured a kilo of chocolate and passed out in a heap on the bed.
The next day we hired out bicycles, scary Dutch bikes that you have to pedal backwards to brake. Carlo cycled out of the hire shop and crashed straight into a car. A pigeon crapped copiously on my head and nobody would let me use the bathroom to wash it off. I finally stood shreiking “Look, POO! ON MY HEAD!” to an old lady guarding the washroom at the Grasshopper bar. She let me in, shaking her head. We cycled around until our hands were nearly frozen to the handlebars. We mooched round for the rest of the day, steering clear of the coffeeshops and acting like proper tourists. As we stood outside the airport, ready to fly back to London, Carlo dug something out of his pocket. A small bud of marijuana. “ Can I take this back with me or do I have to leave it here?” he asked, seriously.
“You can't take it with you stupid, you'll get arrested.” “Oh, it seems a shame to waste it...”
We arrived back in London giggling, with a severe attack of the munchies...
at 12:27 PM