How could I write a blog about life in Holland and not talk about drugs. Holland is well known for it’s coffee shops and semi blind eye on drug laws. It is also a popular belief that every Dutch person is constantly stoned, wears clogs, eats cheese, lives in a windmill and knows the price and proper etiquette when dealing with prostitutes in the Red Light District. However this is not true… sometimes they wear trainers (all joking aside this stereotype is not true).
The Dutch as a whole are a very friendly people but not everyone on the street who asks, “Charlie?” is inquiring about your name. This could lead to some confusion if your name actually is Charlie. You may end up being given what seems to be a very expensive and ineffective washing powder.
If you’re ever in Amsterdam and you fit with in their target market (look like a tourist or have the recognizable ‘Junkie Shuffle’) you’ll find lots of people on the street whisper names of drugs as you pass by. Its not the most affective way of advertising their goods but setting up a stall with a sign in the middle of Dam Square could lead to some trouble. You’ll find a lot of these characters hang around near the Red Light District which would explain why one once tried to offer me Viagra as I was taking a short cut through the area.
When I tell people I live in Holland most of them react by saying “I bet you must be smoking weed all the time dude.” Well to be honest… no. I know a lot of people who do smoke it but (apart from a few times) I don’t myself. I did however spend the first few months getting stoned through passive smoking from my Scottish flat mate and a few of our friends until my body got used to it.
The first time I actually tried it for myself was when my friend Neil came over to visit. We got a little carried away and tried weed that was too strong for us. At first everything was fine but when the room started to move on its own accord I began to feel ill and very paranoid. Although Neil denies the weed had an effect on him I think he was feeling paranoid too because when I opened the window for some fresh air he started shouting, “Don’t jump! Close the window!”
I have tried weed again since then and not had the same trouble. However, last time it did leave me with the very strange sensation that one eye was bigger then the other for a while.
Although I’ve only smoked weed about three times in the whole five years I have been in Holland I always find it strange whenever I’m back in England that I don’t even have the option. I hear people talk about how they are struggling to get weed and it all has to be done in secret and there is me, a non-smoker, thinking, “I can just go to the coffee shop around the corner from my house and get some if I wanted it.”
But then I never say that because the reaction of most people is to say, “Sweet. Can you bring us some over next time?”