This is not my experience, story but from a guy from Limerick, Ireland I met in an Irish pub in Madrid. I enjoyed his stories so much I thought you’d like them too. I had no idea that I would visit his hometown of Limerick later on in my trip.
I sat with an Irishman who told me great stories from his life once I told him I was traveling long term. He had done the same thing back in the 70s. He had just received a nice job teaching at a Uni in London, which meant good pay and job security for life, unless he killed someone, he said with a laugh. ‘I was all set.’
Came time to vote on a yearly pension increase and discussion fell into a long argument when it should have been a quick aye vote. In the midst of this argument the Irishman realized that what they were voting on and arguing wouldn’t effect them for nearly 30 years.
‘Then it hit me, I’m going to be here, at this same desk with these same arseholes arguing over a 2% pension decrease and lord knows what else…for 30 years! This was a Monday, by Thursday I was on a ferry to Amsterdam with a roll to sleep on and a bit of money in my pocket. I realized those guys were insane. Plus I’d never been anywhere, I had no real life experiences.’
At this time Amsterdam had just made it legal to sleep in a park overnight, you only had to keep it clean and break camp in the morning. You couldn’t lay about all day in the park. So he arrives to Amsterdam, finds a park and carves out a space come nightfall. It felt good to sleep under the stars, free from everything.
He wakes up next morning, a guy next to him is smoking, but ‘it ain’t tobacco, lad, nay stronger stuff.’ The guy looks at the Irishman and passes the joint his way, so he takes it, having never seen marijuana before in person until this moment. He takes a drag and sees a cop walking their way. His hair was like a mushroom and stuck out on all sides from his helmet. ‘I was properly fooked. He had me, joint in hand, my first one at that. In a foreign land, just as I was beginning my adventure, it was over!’
Without a word the cop extends his hand to the Irishman and so he passes the joint. The cop takes a drag, eyes light up, then takes another, slowly exhaling.
‘This is actually good weed but you need to be careful, there are bad people about,’ the cop says. He then proceeds to pass the joint back and breaks down Amsterdam, the safe spaces, the dangerous places, where to buy things legally, etc.
‘You two do need to move along soon, but you’re welcome to come back again at nightfall. Have a good day and enjoy our city!’ The cop said as he walked off.
‘I have no doubt he was pleasantly stoned at that point! A cop too, on duty, I’d never dreamed of an encounter like that in Ireland or London. They likely throttle you for good measure, bruise you a bit so you wouldn’t do it again. I then realized I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. It was a sign. I stayed on the road for 6 months after that, nary a problem.’