As a traveller and a pot smoker, it’s nice when I can get some weed to enjoy, and quite often to assist with complications and difficulties when I travel.
It does not change the situation it just takes the edge off the mental stress in dealing with extraordinary situations.
My most recent trip in Spain was so easy due to an app I accessed. Weedmaps Espania.
Weedmaps is a tech company launched in Orange County California in 2008 which allows adult users to find local marijuana dispensaries.
I visited the beautiful city of Santander in the North of Spain in the province of Cantabria. I stayed to the north of the city in a wonderful rural area surrounded by horses, dogs, cats and a few cows.
From my bedroom, I had a view of the Bay of Biscay and the most divine sunsets on the ocean. Maria, who runs the airbnb was a delight. She was over 50 so a similar age to me and we had delicious coffee and croissants in the morning together.
‘It would be so satisfying to have a joint right now’ I thought! I had heard of this app a few years previously when I was in Madrid and had enquired at a grow shop.
I downloaded the App and typed in ‘Santander’. Immediately several different pinpoints appeared. I checked out the one nearest to where I was staying.
Google maps told me it was an hour’s walk along the coast to get there. There was an address and telephone number online also an option called ‘Menu’ but there was nothing written there.
I telephoned the place and said in my best Spanish… ’I got your number from weedmaps can I come over?’ The pleasant, friendly male voice confirmed the address and told me I was welcome.
The walk was magnificent following the cliffs along the coastline with the majestic waves beating the rocks: dusk was creeping in and a glorious sunset happening. The water on this coast is very rough these beaches are surfing beaches and not for the amateur swimmer with its waves expanding to quite a height. It’s the Atlantic Ocean so very cold as well.
I could smell the marijuana from 10 minutes away. The dark had just arrived and the pleasant aroma confirmed that I was nearly there. Arriving I could see people sitting outside at tables, drinking coffee, beer, wine whatever they fancied and smoking the sacred herb.
I pressed the intercom and was buzzed in. I walked passed friendly people who smiled and acknowledged my existence. Entering the bar area I was greeted by the man I had spoken on the telephone to.
I ordered a café con leche. This was served and then I enquired about the pot that I wished to purchase. I was told that I would have to join the club before I could buy any cannabis and fill in a brief form with my name and passport number on.
I paid 10 euro ($A16) and then paid a further 20 euro ($A36) and bought a decent sized bag of delicious sativa. I smoked my pipe, finished my coffee. People were still smiling as I floated out and continued the return walk back to my room.
My journey through Northern Spain continued and when I reached Cangas in the province of Galicia on the North West coast, I needed to reload my stash.
Cangas is a seaside resort in South West Galicia which sits opposite Vigo in a beautiful bay. The area is blessed with the paradise beaches, clear, blue water and adequate trees and rocks to enjoy.
Weedmaps informed me that the nearest cannabis café was in Vigo which is the capital of Galicia. The road from Cangas to Vigo travels around the bay and takes about 45 minutes. The ferry that goes directly across the bay takes 10 minutes and costs 10 Euro. The ride is spectacular with views of the two cities and a vast vista of the Cies islands that sit out in the distant sea.
I pondered on the fact that this was a daily commute for many people who work in Vigo because this is the bigger of the two cities. The ferry arrives at the old town and my maps guided me on an uphill walk passed the neoclassical Church of Santa María and up to the Castro fortress built to fend off the British in 1665.
From there the route took me through the metropolitan area where the cars shouted with their horns every few minutes. Tempting cafes and restaurants line the streets offering coffee and delicious pastries… It was a good 30 minute walk to the Weed café.
Google maps supplied the best route and I walked, backpack on my back and camera in my hand. This is a beautiful city. The streets were noisy and full of traffic but the pavement was wide with a sleepy siesta feel to the afternoon I went on my mission.
The place was not as easy to find because the address was a bit ambiguous. It seemed like no 44 was a restaurant but a plethora of elderly folk sipping wine was not the clientele I imagined would be sitting there buying and smoking cannabis.
I then noticed some graffiti which stood out as some sort of sign; I knew this was the building. It was a block of residential flats and the familiar aroma reached my nose. I buzzed flat 2. The same words came out of my mouth, ‘I got your number from Weedmaps’. The door electronically opened and I walked up the stone stairs to the apartment.
It had been modified as there was a counter visible when entering the flat: a sleepy young man without a shirt emerged from the adjoining room.
Once again I had to join as I was now in the province of Galicia. I objected to 20 Euro (36 A$) and I reported that I had only paid 10 Euro in Cantabria. The young man halved the price.
He offered me some hashish which I was interested in but when I realised it was mixed with tobacco I declined and took some fine looking buds of Maria instead.
The deals that I purchased were double what I would get in the UK or in Australia and I liked the fact that it was grown outside in the beautiful Spanish sun.
The weed lasted me weeks as I’m a pipe smoker and I smoke little and often.
My next weed café that I visited was in Madrid. I still had more than enough but being a capital city I found the place quite lonely. It was not the same as the small villages where people talked to you and remembered who you were; it was full of people from all different countries.
It was difficult to walk as the pavements were crowed and to add to the chaos there were major street repairs going on so crossing the road became a chore. Finding a crossing was the first point of action and then trying to manoeuvre in and out of the crowds was another. On top of this, the weather had changed and it was cold and rainy.
I wandered the streets awaiting the 4 pm free entrance to the art galleries. I took the metro for one stop and exiting the train I just felt like I needed to check my money was still there. No, it wasn’t, I had been pickpocketed!
The train had been crowded and there had been a man pressed very close to me. He must have unzipped my small purse that I had over my shoulder and pulled out the 150 Euros I had in there. I felt desperate and sad and cold inside and out.
I left the underground near the Museo Reina Sofia and sat on a bench in the beautiful surrounding garden.
I searched on weedmaps for the nearest café and there it was a twenty-minute walk away. After the usual phone call, I was buzzed into the café which was behind a heavy graphitised iron door. The usual, pleasant aroma hit me as I walked in and I was greeted with a smile.
This time I did not have to join the club as I was not purchasing cannabis I did buy a café con leche and I sat in a booth, drank my coffee and openly smoked a pipe full of ganja.
From here I headed to the art gallery and walked among the greats. The highlight being Picasso’s Guernica motivated by the German aerial bombing of the small Basque town in 1937.
My final stop on the weedmaps tour was Malaga in Andalusia. I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely this city is as I had the misconception it was only a stopover for tourists to head to the resorts of Torremolinos and Benamadena.
I found the numerous roman ruins splashed around the city and I enjoyed the walk up to Mount Gibralfaro castle which has held fortifications since 770 BC.
I still had a stash but I wanted to meet some like minded people so I checked on weedmaps and found the nearest store 40 minutes away. I did not bother calling this time as I had the address and walking was my dharma which I practised every day.
I arrived and as I looked up at the apartments I could make out plants sprawled on the windowsill behind the glass. I called the number then and asked if I could come in. This time the lady who answered the phone was not so friendly and demanded that I have my passport with me and I would still have to join the club even though I did not intend to buy.
The fee to join was the most expensive yet: it was E40 which was an amount I did not want to pay. I did not have my passport and I declined to enter so I continued on back to my room.
I did stop at the beach and have a sneaky pipe while sitting on the sand watching the sun setting on the Mediterranean Sea. After that, I stopped for some hot chocolate and churros. Life is good.