Κυριακή, 4 Απριλίου 2010

Belgium hangover trip

As I boarded the sleeper to Madrid, the drugs had begun to wear off. Reality was rapidly coming back with a force that resembled a slap across my face. After an almost surreal conversation with a crazy old geezer waiting at the concourse of the small railway station for something (perhaps his kid), I had decided that me and madness we’re through for the moment. But the return to reality was becoming more abrupt and painfull than whatever I had thought of . The effects of a hangover from a multi-drug binge can be a heavy one. It is not like feeling as if you have to digest a brick, or the pains of a going into some sort of a detox shock. No.The burden is psychological. You feel down. Out of energy. Angry. Grumpy all the time.. You need a way to get fixed. You need sleep. So I slept. I slept all the way into town. As if tomorrow there would be no chance of rest for wicked souls like mine. I woke up half jaded as the train approached the Chanmartin Station. I left my bags there, along with some of the food, and went to downtown Madrid to find a way to spend the next eight to twelve hours. This proved without any effort, and the next thing I knew, night time had arrived again, and I was ready to enter the takos of terminal four to board my Virgin Express flight to Brussels. The journey tourned boringly uneventful, in the way only trips with low-cost carriers can be. Nothing to do nowhere to go, yadda yadda. Pay per can alcohol. No sleep ‘till Brussels.Left turn to see the lights of Bordeaux. Then head-on to Belgium. Hurrray!. Finally arriving at Brussels at slightly before 11 in the night, I was happy to find that the I had narrowly made it to the last train into Ghent-St Peters station. Then it was an hout and a half of train journey in the middle of a pitch-dark night….

Fear and Loathing in A Coruna

As I reached the station, I realized that Paldi was not there. As usual I supposed that it had to do with the way Spaniards see their appointments. Time is relative. So I waited for a while. After a quarter of an hour of waiting I called him. No answer. Another hour was passing and my friend was nowhere to be found. Bummer. I walked down the main avenue and entered the first hotel I could find. Thankfully it was not fully booked, so I could spend the night there. Outside it was getting cold. Freeze-your-arse-out cold.
At four in the morning a call came. It was Paldi. He was sounding obviously drunk, so I just told him to come meet me the next day. I checked out, the next morning, and found him waiting by his Citroen C2 . We had a full ride around town to do, and he wanted to show me the traits of the place. La Coruna is situated in the northwestern corner of Spain, at the coast of the Atlantic. About 50 kilometres away from the city lies the cape of Finnis Terrae, the end fo the western end of the Roman Empire. And dead ahead lie the States.
The first stop was a Cuban bar, situated right on top of the port’s entrance. The walls were covered from corner to corner by Cuban flags and pictures from Che’s and Castro’s days on the mountains of the Sierra Maestra. I grabbed a bottle of Estrella Galicia, the only lightest thing served there, since they do not sell either coke or pepsi! Now that was cool. Then we got back in the car to drive to his mother’s place. She had made us cod with gazpacho, a plate that is very common in these areas. And the we left our things in Paldi’s place, to have a swim right under the tower of Hercules. The tower, as it is said, was built by Hercules himself, out of the bones of a monster he slaughtered in the aerea, and, now serves as a lighthouse. The rocks under it serve as a perfect place for swimmers, or youngsters lazing around.
Before I knew it I was swimming away from the coast, and into the cold breeze, then back up. The swim was a relaxing experience, before the hardcore partying that would go on in the evening. The Greeks were inbound from Portugal, and we where going to meet them in the evening. They would call as soon as they reached Spanish soil. For the time being preparations needed to be made, that had to do with our supplies for the night. So we stopped by this apartment, in downtown a Coruna to buy some stuff. The stuff was a fairly good quantity of pot, and the apartment was something in the midway between a drug den and a homegrown plantation, using top-notch techniques to produce weed. Ionisers, air vents, fans,artificial lighting and other high-tech gadgets were used, in order to satisfy the needs of the local trippy scene. Of course all these comes at a price, but weed and coke are especially cheap in Spain, and a lot of people in the region work as small-time merchants in order to gain some generous pocket money.
While we were moving out of the apartment, the call came in. The greeks where reaching the bus station within the hour. So we mounted the Citroen again, this time being followed by two of Paldi’s friends in an ageing Renault 5. I had seldom seen the guys in Cyprus, and had not seen them for some time either. And, as one can imagine, they where totally oblivious to my existence in the area. So the surprise was enormous. We turned back toward Paldi’s place, and prepared for the trip’s first party. Things were turning, slowly, hardcore.
The first party was a goodbye party of sorts. The girl hosting the party was leaving for the Basque country in some sort of an exchange students scheme that was happening across Spain. The menu included a whole load of cod, drugs, and Galician Sangria (wich, among the traditional material includes vodka). Among the attendees were several of Paldi’s friends. These included Maldini, a huge rasta-man who walked with the help of a cane, courtesy of a drunken meeting with some water-polo athlete (no resemblance to the former captain of AC Milan whatsoever), the all chilled out Paulo, and this crazy guy who, after some drugs, could recite all of Marlon Brando’s monologues and lines from the Godfather. The crazynesswas starting to kick in, when we moved towards one of the areas best bars, “El Clandestino”. After some glasses of coffee liquor we were all sobered up, and ready to go to sleep.

The next morning came quite easily. We woke up, took a hit from the bong and then proceeded to start the day. We took a walk around downtown, to check out the Medieval fair. Galicia has more of a gaelic tradition, than a traditional Spanish or an Arabic one. The Gaelic influences are also prominent in Gallego, the local language, and a lot of Gallegos can pas as Irishmen or Scotsmen. Take for example Fide, Paldi’s best friend. This tall rastaman probably can’t speak English, but he can easily pass as an Irish hippie, because of his complection. In the evening Paldi uttered something about finding cheap coke for all of us. Of course we went head over heels for that and quickly found out that it took less than 30 euros to buy about 4gs of coke. The craziest thing about it was it’s purity. It had been cut up, but it was still about 70% pure, while in the rest of Europe you can buy about one g of 40-50% pure for the same price. Overall it was about 60 euros for four g’s of coke and a small egg-shaped block of uncut mary-jane. Yummy. Two hits later we we’re at the station to pick up Caro, and then straight up to the Recuncho de Maite. This is probably the town’s craziest tapas bar. The single waiter there, takes orders, polishes tables, prepares dishes, and serves all the customers altogether at a breakneck pace. The secret of his powers was revealed to us when one of us noticed him disappearing every once and a while in the bathroom. The guy was a cokehead. Hints he made at Paldi turned our assumptons into a clear conclusion. “Won’t they taste anything else of our traditional tastes and pleasures ?” He asked Paldi. Of course Paldi played along and said that we were going for a second round of tapas, with different ones at hand. But then the guy explained “Any of the “other” pleasures? Bingo! The guy was a total cokehead for sure! No explanations needed! The night ended, again, in Clandestino, though things were kind of blurry and my memory can play games about that days incidents. All I can remember from the moments after arriving at clandestine, was, me and Caro waking up early to go and get some coffee and breakfast the next morning. We were all in anticipation of the big party of the next night. Fide was leaving for Brazil, and all of his friends where throwing a surprise party for him. But first of all we needed to buy souvenirs, before the party. So we went back into the Gothic fair. Some bought perfume sticks, some biological soap, some just bought sweets in order to fight the Munchies. Kay and Kabale bought also some Deportivo T-Shirts, utilizing the 70% rebajas at the stores. The noon and afternoon passed smoothly with hits of mary-jane and alcohol, while Paldi provided us with a new shipment of coke and weed. Right now everything was turning all fear-and –loathing. Buy the ticket, take the ride. Tune in , Drop In , Cop Out. Come get high with us, kiss reality goodbye. Take the trip, fly in the sky with Lucy. All this. And then the night was slowly coming in and I was getting anctious. Would my last night in Galicia turn into an orgy or not? And how would it mellow out. The next night I had to grab an overnight train to Madrid, then loiter around town for a zillion hours, the catch a plane to Brussels, and then take the next train into Ghent…..some long hours of travelling.
As the night progressed final preperations were being made. I had raided the nearest supermarket to grab the necessary feeding items for the trip. Bread, doughnuts, jamon, chorizo, cheese. A bocadillo always comes in handy. After the food was prepared and stored, we all left for the beach. Yeah, it was a beach party, on the Atlantic Coast. A campfire was lit, and some sort of grog was being prepared in a kettle hanging above the fire. From what I heard it was some local drink of sorts, a real knockout. Meanwhile booze was flowing around, there was drummers and guitarists jamming around the fire, with people dancing ecstatically around. Meanwhile the joints were moving around one after another. And in the middle of all this, Kay was making an attempt to pull on some girl named Alicia something, failing simply because along with his natural charm, he was not equipped with any knowledge of the Spanish language (except perhaps the phrases hola, que tal, bien, yo soy Kay, encantado, rebajas), the only language Alicia knew. And of course when the only two translators available (that was me and Paldi) are wasted things tend to be hectic in this sector. Anyway things where slowly taking a turn for the insane. Paldi was turning nuts, and apparently so was Fide. I was drifting into some post-orgasmic chill. Energy sprouts where coming out of my body. The rest, weary of attracting unwanted attention, and wanting to dance to something more recognizable than a jam session, decided to move to Mardi Gras, a cool downtown bar, situated close to the beach.
All was cool in the bar. The speakers where blasting funk, soul and rock’n’roll music, and everybody was in an exceptional mood. I found myself dancing the funky chicken on top of one of the PA systems. And then some nimrod decided to dispence a canister of teargas. That was a foul move. I have had a lot of incidents involving teargas, in demonstrations, but also one when a similar nimrod dispensed a canister inside a coach in downtown Benicassim. Really evil stuff. So there was only one initial response. Everybody out!. So we left the bar, but I was thrilled to see that the vibes where high. The rally point was the at the fountain in the square next to the bar.
There happened the unthinkable. Suddenly people from our party started moving around other parties and calling them to join in to share whatever they had with us and whatever we had. Suddenly there appeared a whole galaxy of pills, wads of coke and weed. I was smoking, snorting and gulping down everything within reach, like everyone else did. Things were getting tense. Paldi and Fide where becoming paranoid. In a split second, , what started as a prank inside the fountain, had evolved into a double headlock, and then onto a fierce one-on –one duel. While the two where exchanging karate chops and dropkicks inside the fountain, everybody else had formed a chorus around it, singing the “Star Wars” theme. I was watching the spectacle, experiencing jolts of rapid chills caused by divine ecstasy caused by whatever I had consumed.
The night ended with us dancing erratically to some Spanish rock and ska music, at another bar dedicated to this music only. Apparently things between Paldi and Fide had turned back to normal, since they where talking and hugging again in the hamburger joint later. In the noon we left for some coffee and weed again. The last stop before the station was a coffeehouse downtown. As the last joints where coming around, we saw a guy snort coke in public. Since coke, e’s and weed are so widely used in Spain by almost every layer of the working class and the students, there is an endless stream of demand for those. Police tends to ignore people passing on drugs to tourists and locals, as well as users of light drugs. There are very few junkies in Spain. I spotted one of them in Madrid, and one in Barcellona a few weeks later…It turned out to be the same guy, who was an Italian! Drugs come into western Europe via Spain. If it is weed, one of the most common routes is from Morocco via Southern Spain and on to the North, while the Colombians use Galicia and Amsterdam as their two first ports-of-call in the continent for Cocaine. This leads to very cheap drugs being dealt in almost absolute freedom to a quite vast market. Frases like “the Moroccan just dumped the turd” and “the ship has come to port”, are very commonly heard on phonecalls before drug tradings..

Leaving it all behind, I was boarding a train to the suburbs, to meet the sleeper to Madrid….