This is part 2 of a multi-part blog in which I am inventorying the things I have come to live without while traveling abroad. Read part 1 here and subscribe below to stay up to date with the latest issue.
It's the little luxuries in life that you notice most immediately when they're gone. The simple pleasantries that make modern life a little bit easier. They're the salve you apply to a bad day. You barely notice them when they're just a part of your day-to-day routine, but when you abruptly have to give them up, you suddenly realize how much you needed them.
But, as I mentioned in part 1 of this blog, every void that is opened up creates a precious opportunity for growth, and by examining what we've lost we can better understand what we stand to gain.
There are a lot of little luxuries I miss about life in San Francisco, but none more than these 3:
Coffee addiction is tough.
Bolivia has great coffee, and it’s starting to get popular in some of the boutique java shops in SF. My father-in-law used to be in the coffee biz and he has told me more than once about the unique growing conditions and roasting method in Bolivia and how it affects the beans, but I’d be lying if I told you I’m that kind of coffee drinker.
I’m a Starbucks guy. I used to be a Dunkin’ Donuts guy, before I moved to San Francisco. I’m not all that fancy about coffee. What I miss about coffee is waking up early, walking out of my house in any direction, and finding a grande within 4 blocks that I can throw a little half and half in, then slug it down and immediately feel ready for a day at the office.
I love that little charge, and I love the taste of standard American drip coffee. Sometimes when I’m working from home, I’ll make a pot of super weak coffee (strong coffee is for tough guys with gut-rot) and spend all day nursing it down.
Filling the coffee void
These days, I’ll enjoy an espresso or a cappuccino after a meal. Sometimes my wife and I will hang out over a coffee at one of the handful of trendy little café’s that have opened recently in La Paz. I highly recommend Blu and Typica if you find yourself in Bolivia and missing good coffee. I can sit in either of those shops for an afternoon and forget that I’m not in San Francisco.
Mostly, though, my day runs on tea. It feels pretty good, like my engine runs a little cleaner and a little more efficiently. I don’t get that zip in the mornings, but I don’t get the crash in the afternoon either. And sometimes, especially on busy days, I feel like I can’t quite get my brain into 5th gear.
And drinking a cup of coffee while smoking a joint? We call that the NorCal 8 Ball and don’t even get me started on how great it is. But that brings me to my next point…
Few places on earth can offer a comparable pot selection to San Francisco. Amsterdam has a mastery of the science of hydroponics, but IMHO the are lacking in artistry. Those geeks in Denver (nestled low in the Rocky Foothills) boast about the quality of their herb too, but that’s mostly because they’re ignorant bumpkins. We’re just #blessed in the Bay, I guess.
I’m a daily pot smoker at home. I like to smoke a little in the morning, a little in the evening. On the weekends, I like to smoke a lot, all day. Living in Northern California, I’m spoiled with an abundance of the world’s greatest marijuana, custom tailored by strain with a degree of precision that allows me to be highly selective with the exact experience I’m looking for. I smoke for a combination of recreational and medicinal benefits. It helps with my anxiety and restlessness, as well as my creative process. For me, pot is more of a wellness supplement than medicine. A little bit more effective than ginko-biloba and melatonin, not as severe as Xanax.
Pot isn’t terribly hard to come by down here, but it’s a different beast. You can’t often pick your strain, and it’s a rarity that whoever is providing the herb knows much about the genetics. Most of what you come by is grown outdoors, and it tends to be sativa-leaning, but there are no real guarantees. You get what you get, which isn’t really my favorite way to smoke.
You also certainly can’t smoke on the streets or in a city park. They’ll toss your ass right in jail for that, and I’m not trying to see the inside of a Bolivian prison. So without the control, the availability, and the cultural acceptance, the only course of action was to break the habit.
Filling the pot void
As any marijuana addict can tell you, the first few days were the worst. Cold sweats, intense paranoia, uncontrollable fits of violent diarrhea and vomiting.
Just kidding, obviously. Kicking weed is a hell of a lot easier than kicking coffee. I felt a bit of an uptick in my anxiety and a bit of depression to go with it, but those are both symptoms that could be bundled in with any number of factors when you go through such a massive lifestyle upheaval. I started having a lot of dreams again (a common occurrence for lapsed potheads) and that wasn’t really a great experience. I process a lot of anxiety while I sleep and my dreams were generally a chaotic, nervous mess that left me feeling unrested in the morning.
Holy shit do I miss hummus. It’s probably my favorite food. I consider a serving size of hummus to be one container, however big that container may be. Sometimes my wife tries to get the family size of tub of hummus for our house, thinking it will last longer. It doesn’t. I eat it in a sitting. If I get to a party that’s classy enough to put out food and they have hummus on the refreshments table, I’ll stand over it and go chip-by-chip until it’s gone. I'm like a dog when it comes to hummus: I eat whatever is in my bowl.
I love the hummus section of Trader Joe’s. It’s not unlike going to a good cannabis dispensary and looking over the strain selection on the menu. Jalapeno hummus is like my Red Congolese- it's got a real zesty little zing to it that gets me fired up. Mediterranean is Grand Daddy Purple- always reliable and easy to smash down a bowl while laying on the couch after a long day of work.
And, like cannabis, you can find hummus around this town but it's not the same and the selection isn't there. Of all the habits I've had to break, this is probably the worst. At least 3 times a week, I go to the fridge and look around in there, just to see if a tub of TJ's hummus somehow showed up. It never does.
Filling the hummus void
Nothing fills the hummus void. I've been reading a lot of Marcel Proust, and I guess that helps. "We are healed from suffering only be experiencing it to the full."
Where to from here?
Ultimately, it feels good to push myself out of some of these routines. Any opportunity to experience the world through a new lens is good. Any chance to break from the status quo is good. Any opportunity for growth is good.
These are the mantra's I repeat in the mirror when I've got no weed and no hummus and I find myself crying, alone and naked on the floor of the bathroom.
But when I get home, the first thing I’m going to do is smash down a cup of coffee from Starby’s (maybe a Pumpkin Spice Latte too, that shit is delicious and you’re an asshole if you’re too cool to admit it), smoke a massive joint of the Apothecarium’s finest, top shelf, sativa leaning hybrid, and eat a party platter of Trader Joe’s hummus.
"The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes."
Next time: The English language, oxygen, and digestive stability. Yes, it's another blog about diarrhea.