Remember, you cannot fly.
The scene: sidewalk café of Los Pilones, a famous Mexican restaurant in the Kerkstraat. Nineteen-year-old Alejandro is sitting out at one of the tables with two friends. He’s visiting from Brazil. It’s a quarter after seven in the evening on the first of July that time of year when twilight in Amsterdam seems to go on forever.
At that moment, an Australian falls from the sky.
The 28-year old Australian has been staying with his travelling buddies in a tourist apartment on the top floor above the restaurant. They've smoked a joint, eaten some spacecake, and taken some phony XTC pills they bought from a dealer. Then they've wandered around town a bit before returning to their upstairs rooms. Sitting in the bathroom, the Australian starts to feel a bit woozy. He hears a voice in his head, telling him to jump out the window. He complies.
Fortunately for him, his fall is broken by Alejandro. He is hurt, but manages to walk away from the scene. Alejandro, on the other hand, will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Now I want to tell you this was a bizarre, isolated incident. I can't. The newspapers call them hotelspringers, vliegende toeristen hotel jumpers, or flying tourists. Almost every year we hear a story of someone deciding to fly from their hotel window in Amsterdam. The difference is that most of these jumpers don't have an innocent Brazilian man to soften their landing.
It may be shrooms ('paddo's'), or too much strong weed or hash, combined with drink, that compels them. But if one chooses to take a drug, of course one can't blame the drug for the consequences of that choice.
Each one of these sad stories strengthens the case for those who want stricter laws on soft drugs, and closer control of our choices. What each of us does in Amsterdam has an effect on the lives of all the Amsterdammers. Even if we're only here for a day.
So regardless what you've ingested that day, and no matter what the voices tell you, please remember: you can not fly. Not even in Amsterdam. If you're taking hallucinogens, or anything else that might seriously fuck with your head, I urge you to do it on the ground floor.