Before I put the coca back into Coca Cola, I just chewed some coca leaves the proper way to alleviate my symptoms. Traditionally, people in the Andes would chew the coca leaves after smearing them with a very basic substance, like lye, in order to help extract the cocaine. I tried to think of the most basic thing I could; that would be my ex, but I had broken up with her earlier that year, so baking soda would have to do. I always carry baking soda with me as a multipurpose item.
I chewed the leaves in my teeth, knowing that my whole point is to grind them up as well as to get them wet. Chewing them does both, and since I already know that these are only going back into my own mouth in a matter of seconds, there’s really no germiness to worry about. So I would chew up the coca leaves very rapidly and very fine and then I would sprinkle baking soda all over the result and then I would chew it up again. When I did this, it was far more effective than when I had first had coca leaves back in Peru: after being soaked in a basic solution, I could actually taste the cocaine and it made the inside of my mouth numb.
After a short while, my sinuses started to drain very quickly I had to blow my nose several times and drink a lot of water to get it through my system, as well as inhaling some saline solution that I’d bought with the phenylephrine.
I still had a lot of pain from the infection but at least I could breathe again. I also really wanted to walk. A lot. I immediately left the hotel and went for a long walk down to package at us. I took a long walk down to a park in the entertainment district where there are lots of restaurants and nightclubs, mostly closed as it was the afternoon.
I walked about 4 kilometers before I arrived at the park and I walked around the park until I bumped into a drug dealer and walked past him, which was of course enough to make him say “Una gramma de Chiclets?”
I said “no, gracias.” I did not want “a ‘gram’ of Chiclets.”
He kept walking alongside me. As is customary in many places, he thought I was negotiating and he told me his asking price: “90,000 pesos.” This is roughly $30 USD. In California that’s a pretty cheap price for a gram of cocaine. However that is not the price in Colombia.
So I laughed and I kept walking.
Again, he thought that I was negotiating. “50,000 pesos.”
I then got unduly nervous as there were some police about 8 feet away from us and I said, “No, gracias.”
He sensed my tension and looked over his shoulder as though something terrible is about to happen. When he saw that there were just two policemen behind him, he relaxed and offered me his next price. “30,000 pesos.”
At this point, I literally wanted to buy the cocaine just so that he would leave me alone. I knew that I had about 30,000 pesos, about ten dollars, in my pocket. I just handed to him. He handed me a sealed plastic envelope with a tiny ziplock bag labeled with a picture of Maggie Simpson on the cover of Playboy magazine affixed to it like a label. I couldn’t make that up if I tried.
I got off the street and into a storefront and rubbed some coke on my gums and, again, my sinuses drained magically and I was geared up for the long walk back to hotel.
Now, if you’ve been imagining me sweating and chewing my lips as I walked, you’ve really got this wrong. If you only take tiny amounts of cocaine at a time, it’s like having a euphoric latte that’s going to smoothly wear off in a couple of hours. At which time of course, you can do another and basically keep yourself buzzing all day. They forgot to mention this in the anti-drug classes you took in school.
To be fair though, doing rails of cocaine will send you into cold sweats, make your eyes glassy, and make you talk so fast that people at parties want to punch you. I know this because I am one of the people that want to punch you. Apart from taking small doses, I’m just one of those people who is physically soothed by cocaine, but it makes my mood solid gold and my mind go in only one direction: forward. This is how I came to my next idea.