There’s a certain plant that has a reputation of being a traveler’s drug of choice. It’s often lovingly referred to as marihuana. Except in Peru — there’s no love involved.
Being the curious boy that I am, I set out to googling this elusive plant and how to get it in Peru. I mean, we were going to some of the most amazing, beautiful places in the world. Nature and marihuana is like peanut butter and jelly. The Internet was full of scary tales about tourists getting put into Peruvian prisons and never emerging, tourists getting caught before they got to see Macchu Picchu, tourists being dumb, tourists getting all their stuff taken by corrupt police. It was some intense shit.
When we got off our bus to Huacachina (aka planet DUNE), we took a cab to our hotel. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, but I just took a chance and asked our seedy looking cab driver if … “Sabes donde puedemos marihuana?” When he finally understood, he gave us a knowing chuckle. Told us he could get it from a friend if we paid him 150 Peruvian soles (he offered us cocaine too, but fuck that shit). We managed to haggle him down, and as he dropped us off at our place, he told us he’d back in a few hours with the goods.
Kenny and I surreptitiously exited our little hotel and walked up and down the street. Sr Antonio was nowhere to be soon. We walked around the neighborhood more. A cab came by and stopped near us. I went up to him (he wasn’t Antonio, but maybe a friend) and asked him if he knew Antonio. Nope.
… and then we saw the policeman on his motorbike. Just chillin behind the taxi with his lights on. Uhhh. We just pretended to be confused tourists and kept walking. Kenny was wisely advising me that this probably isn’t a good idea, and getting manhandled in a rapey Peruvian prison would be a very shitty way to experience Peru.
We rounded the bend to our hotel, ready to give up. The policeman was parked near a hedge with his lights on, just staring at us. At this point I’m like OK fuck this. Not worth it. So we go in our hotel, all sad.
A few minutes later, the front desk rings us up and tells us a taxi driver is here for us. Oh shit. I go outside and see that it’s Antonio. I get in his car (I’m pretty freaked out by the popo at this point) and I try to communicate to him that the police is nearby. He pulls out a magazine about Huacachina to cover what we’re doing, and shows me the weed.
I consider it a testament to my business acumen and NOT my failing common sense that at that point, in Peru, with the popo around, I negotiated Antonio down on his price. I grabbed the real shitty looked weed and waved goodbye to Antonio.
And that’s how we came to enjoy the beautiful dunes of Huacachina, with the help of our friendly plant.