Blame Canada: Getting High At Sea Level

The town of Sihanoukville stretches out in a wheel pattern from its centre: a statue of two gold lions. It’s bigger than I thought it would be and it’s filled with Canadian ex-pats. There’s BBQ stands lining the roads showcasing their freshly-caught squid, fish, and barracuda in cooled glass containers. The countless beaches that surround the town are filled with 20-something travelers on the hunt for $1 shots of absinthe. The beach we intended to go to, Otres Beach, is much further than we imagined it would be. On the map, it looks like a hop, skip, and a jump down the road from our guesthouse but, according to Google Maps, it was 8 kilometres away and almost impossible to get to by foot. We hailed motorcycle taxis and scoured the bars lining the beach until we found the one named Blame Canada. This place made me imagine what Canada might be like if it had a tropical coastline: flags stretched over the ceiling, hockey memorabilia and paraphernalia decorating the walls, wicker cocoon chairs and couches with purple cushions, cheap beer, and plenty of “eh”s and “sorry”s to go around. Then you look out and see the beach 20 feet away.

It always takes going away to realize how much of a Canadian patriot I am.

Casual conversation with the bartenders was made, cold beer was poured, and pictures were taken, and then we noticed the sign on the wall advertising “Space Oreos.”

I lived in Amsterdam. I’m no stranger to the effects of ingesting marijuana. So, I ate the cookie slowly, hunkered down with my book in one of the cocoon chairs and waited.

The clouds had been moving across the sky all afternoon, so by the time I was ready to go swimming we had already been dumped on twice by warm, fat raindrops. The ocean water felt thick, hard to move through and it took forever to get even hip deep in the water. I swam out until my head would be covered by incoming waves and stood to take in my surroundings.

Out there, the scenery was idyllic. Islands off in the distance covered with jungle–untouched territory–a few fishing and tourist boats heading to these untouched islands. A man doing lengths of the beach. Beside me, a school of fish jumped out of the breaks in the tide and made me laugh. I lay on my back and let the movement of the water cause my own and felt the waves crest over my hips and settle in pools between my bones. The water was warm and less salty than in Bali. It was murky, though; I looked down and couldn’t see my toes kicking through the turbulent sand and this bothered me for some reason.

Eventually, I dug myself out of the ocean and back to our couch where we had moved during the last downpour. It was around the time that the backpackers playing pool behind me started talking about the drug culture in Cambodia that the water started to look really glittery, my eyes got heavy, and the volume turned up on the conversations in my head.

5 minutes later, I was crippled.

I sat there on the cushion with my book open on my legs, sunglasses on, staring in the water, while the voice in my head shouted “Pull it together!” like I was faking it. My sense of hearing was heightened like never before and it hurt.

The Black Keys played over the sound system for a while, reminding me how much I like them, but the switch to Alt-J later was a nice break for my brain. I stayed in this position for two-and-a-half hours. I moved only twice: once when the dog lying between my legs got up suddenly and it scared me, and once when I sat bolt upright because I swore I saw people successfully spearfishing in the waves. (I realize now that they were the garbage collectors on the beach.)

I so badly wanted the high to go away. I thought if I opened my eyes really wide it would help, or if I drank more water, or went to the bathroom. But none of those things ever work after getting high. So I just stayed in that position until the sun went down. The worst part of it all was that the Oreos didn’t affect Colleen at all. So, I was on my own enduring the struggle of THC crossing the blood-brain barrier. It took me at least 5 minutes to get the key in the knob when I got home and, when I looked in the mirror, I laughed out loud at my comically huge pupils.

So, yeah. Blame Canada.

Traveling will give you glimpses into the cultures of entirely different places around the world. See what can be learned through travel here: