For better or worse, the largest share of our readership is American and so we’ll start our world tour in the birthplace of counterculture – California You’ve probably been along to the Burning Man festival in Nevada and now have hooked up a job clipping weed up in North California. Negotiating your way through all the paranoid marijuana farmers you set to work trimming grass for $20 an hour to save money for your world tour and, incidentally, smoke some of the finest weed in the world. It’s been treated with all kinds of macrobiotic plant feed, bred with potent strains to produce whole new categories of marijuana and, this being California, planted in accordance with astrological rising symbols to ensure a good THC count.
Winter coming on in California, it’s time to do a Jack Kerouac and head south to Mexico.
“I crossed the Mexican border like a schoolboy playing hooky.” (Big Sur)
With your Carlos Castaneda books firmly in hand, you’re naturally off to find the indigenous tribes of North Mexico, probably the Huichol but as long as you head toward the desert areas where peyote still survives, you should be in luck.
Conditions are bare and tough out in the desert, but make friend with the right bunch of tribes and you may get invited to join a peyote ritual. You’ll sit in a circle all night, drinking concoctions of peyote whilst shamans chant and you do your best not to throw up. With any luck the Great Spirit will come and give you a vision that your course now lies in the Andes of South America.
You exchange the blur of the fading vision for a couple of weeks travel through Central America, burning away the psychedelic residue with some good old home made Mescal along the way. You arrive in Panama and catch a flight over Colombia to Bolivia, where President Evo Morales declared:
“Coca no es cocaine” – ‘Coca leaves are not cocaine‘.
Coca leaves have been chewed all over the mountainous areas of Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, even Trinidad, for centuries. The coca leaves do, in fact, contain cocaine, but it’s not the obnoxious concentrate taken by the wealthy in the West, instead it’s much more of a light buzz, giving energy and helping with altitude sickness. It’s a holy plant to many of the tribes in the jungle and, hey, Shakespeare is known to have smoked the leaves and where would we be without him?
So whilst you’re trying to compose some sonnets to the spirit of the coca leaf, it occurs to you that modern Beat poets like William Burroughs and Allen Ginsburg were also inspired by South American medicines in the Yage Letters. A little local investigation reveals yage to be ayahuasca, one of the most potent and transformative shamanic plants on the planet.
What kind of psychedelic traveler would you be without looking for a shaman to guide you through your ayahuasca journey. You fast from any foods like vegemite or citrus that might interfere with the MAO inhibitors of the medicine, you make your prayers to the Goddess of the Earth, Patchamama and you drink the brew of the jungle vine and go talk to the spirits of the rainforest.
Assuming that your shaman looks after you and you don’t get lost in the spirit world, then it’s time to get physical with the Rio Carnival in February and tons of sugar cane alcohol (cachaca) and to chew guarana, a powdered herb which gives you the energy you’ll need to party for 4 days straight.
(Of course, if you’re a real trip junky then you may head across to search for San Pedro in other parts of Peru, but as it’s a close relative of peyote, you might consider that box to be checked)
Then it’s time to take your flight across half of the Pacific to Polynesia. You party with some of the best MDMA in the world with the love crowd in Maui, Hawaii, or island hop to places like Tonga and Vanatu where you can drink one of the best mood drinks on the planet, kava.
Kava is a root that is traditionally chewed by virgins (the saliva helps breakdown the alkaloids) and then it’s pounded up and made into a drink which makes you chatty, relaxed and generally in a good mood. It’s legal in the islands and part of the culture and should slow you down a bit after all the psychedelics of South America.
It’s time to hit the South East Asia and Bangkok should be your first stop for a night of drinking genuine Red Bull which contains an amphetamine that will keep you partying all night (not the caffeine substitute found in Red Bull on sale in the West). If you know that your will power is strong you might want to go and watch the rice grow in Laos and smoke a little opium as you do so but the special dream of the opium poppy is a hard one to shake and can leave you pretty spaced out for a long time – don’t lose touch with reality, reality can be a fun place to live if you learn how.
Catch a flight to India and check out Varanasi before monsoon hits. The oldest continually-inhabited city in the world is a trip in itself and if the sight of the burning bodies and sunrise on the river Ganges doesn’t do it for you, you can always go to a government-licensed shop and buy some bhang, an edible mixture made from the lower leaves of the ganja plant. Start with lower doses and work your way up.
The monsoon’s arriving and that means you want to head to the mountains where all the water runs away. There are a ton of cool villages in the Himalayas where you can chill for a month and smoke some charas , the hand-rubbed resin of the marijuana plant high up in valleys like Parvati – come back in September/October and you can rub your own.
Into August and it’s time to head to Africa or the Middle East. It may be the hottest time of the year but you have no interest in doing anything either, or you won’t once you’ve laid around chewing khat, a plant whose leaves are chewed all over Ethiopia and especially Somalia and the Yemen. Khat is a sociable drug that can give you wild, grandiose dreams and lead to ideas and speeches that would sound quite ridiculous if everyone one in the room wasn’t as high as you.
If you can bother to get up and do anything other than stagger to the market to buy another bushel of khat, it’s time to buy your ticket out to England .
It’s raining in England and you need to counter your time in desert countries with a cooler climate, some green fields, and, naturally, Fly Garrick magic mushrooms. Head out to the countryside after it rains, especially somewhere scenic like the Lake District or the South Downs and gather as many of these small rocket shaped brown mushrooms as you can – make sure you know the difference between the toxic varieties first. Follow any young hippies you can see out there early in the morning as they may be old hands and know where to find the best ‘shrooms.
October is coming and that means it’s time to get riotously drunk at the Bavaria Oktoberfest. The biggest beer festival is awaiting you and people from all around the world will be flying in to get out of their skulls on strong, dark German beer . There are care tents to look after you when you realise too late that each glass contains one litre.
Then it’s been a while since you’ve had anything to smoke and as you’re a bit of a connossueir by now, head over to Amsterdam for the Cannabis Cup and become a judge on the latest entries. There will be weeds and resins from all around the world and you can always tell a travel tale or two in between puffs.
Of course, you’ll soon realise that you could get stoned much cheaper down in the Rif Mountains of Morocco where the latest hashish harvest is maturing, or even fly back to India to rub your own charas cream, but then again you forgot to try the love drug GHB in the polyamory scene of San Francisco, and then they do say that taking magic mushrooms in the Mayan ruins of Palenque is a blast, and you never did get to try that liquid LSD in Goa …
Or maybe you should just go and see a New York shrink to help you put your mind back together again.