White widow. Northern Lights. Casey Jones. Joints. Spliffs. Pipes. Hash, hash … more hash.
My eyes were wide. I had seen it all before, in the pretty glass case displays, but had forgotten. For anyone who enjoys a occassional puff of the wacky tobacky, being in Amsterdam is like being a kid in a candy shop.
“Oh my goodness,” I said, as we sat down in the dimly lit coffee shop, teaming with smokers of all ages, most of whom spoke immaculate English.
“I know!” N said, grinning ear-to-ear.
An hour later we emerged from Smokey’s, taking in the fresh night air, headed to dinner.
Over a bottle of delicious Chianti and some amazing Italian food, we toasted N’s 30th and made plans for the next day — a canal tour of the city.
We awoke, refreshed the following morning, headed to Smokey’s for a pre-brekkie pow wow, to breakfast, and then the canal tour.
After the hour-long tour (side note: while the boat ride is pretty, it is expensive for what you get, and most of the time you are already passed the topic of conversation since the same stories are in four different languages), we checked out another coffee shop (B had wanted to find the Dampkring, made famous by “Ocean’s 12,” but was unsuccessful), and then I introduced B and N to the magnificent and delicious kebab (a staple of my backpacker diet for the past month). Naturally, they loved it.
It was the next day I felt the “get the hell out of Amsterdam” vibe kick into full gear.
We had just finished lunch, following the discovering of Dampkring, and my leg was hurting. Innocently, I reached down to rub it as we were walking along.
Oh my god. My leg. It had become indented. Concave.
“Holy crap,” I announced, fear ripping through my body, “My shin collapsed. It is concave.”
“What?” They asked in unison, stopping in their tracks to survey this new and unlikely scenario.
“My shin. A part of it collapsed. I don’t know what to do.”
I stopped walking and decided to take a closer look, my mind running stoned wild and imagining my leg to be all sorts of a mess under my jeans. I pulled up the pant leg … nothing but two grooves in my leg. Puzzling, since, of course, my shin had collapsed. I expected it to be much more gruesome. More mangled.
“Were you sitting with your leg wrapped around the chair?” N asked.
“Yes …” I said.
“Well, it’s from that,” she offered.
“No, I don’t think so, N. My shin. It has collapsed. I think I need to go to a doctor,” I said, knowing for sure it would have to be amputated, my long-term travel ruined by some fluke … some unkind act of my body against itself.
“Give it a few minutes and then check again,” she instructed.
We got on the tram and headed to the “I amsterdam” park, snapping photos and generally trying to get my mind off the fact that in a few mere hours I would be in a hospital having my leg removed because my shin decided to turn against me.
“It is any better?”
I reached down to give it a feel. The grooves were still there, but not as bad as before.
Perhaps it wasn’t as bad as my original diagnosis.
“A little,” I said, beginning to breathe slightly easier, but not too much. “I think I need to go and lay down.”
“OK,” they said. We agreed to meet at the Irish pub once my panic had subsided.
After an hour, I met them at the bar, joining them for a late afternoon beer. Leg (miraculously) healed.
“D,” N began,”After you left I told B we would have to take you to the doctor! I laid out the entire afternoon. I am so glad your leg is better.”
“Stupid leg wrapping around the chair,” I offered, shaking my head at my ridiculous paranoia brought on by a few minutes at the Dampkring earlier.
Ahhh … Amsterdam. I smiled inside, knowing that would be the worst of it. Especially since I was headed out early the next morning to catch a train to Belgium, to catch a flight back to my love, Madrid.