Time shifts and I am transported back in time to a quiet rooftop in downtown Amsterdam, atop a hostel just off Harlimastrat (sp??) - this cool kind of "walking street", no cars, but lots and lots of people. I am on the roof looking at a big wooden plank. It's dusk and I'm waiting for Carlo - not his real name... I never knew anybody's real name.
My brother runs this hostel... it's called the Write Inn, and my brother, under the pseudonym Rob Kieth (not his real name... ) has been running this place for a year. I'm a visitor. I'm 18 and my parents traveled with me but continued on to Vollendon (sp?) to stay with some friends.
I had been here for at least three days... In Amsterdam, not the roof! I'm unsure of the timing because I completely lost all connection to dates, let alone time of day or sunrise / sunsets about two hours after arriving. My brother met us at the airport and dropped me off at the hostel then continued on with my folks to Vollendon. "Everyone's been expecting you Corto, so just make yourself at home, but remember, only you and Carlos are allowed in my room. Oh and here... (tosses something to me) have some fun. I'll be back in 3 or 4 hours."
He had tossed me a little baggie with some grass in it and I was all to happy to roll up a little dubbie, catch a buz and chill till he got back. I felt just a wee bit awkward but decided to hide that as best I could and see who there was to meet. First order of business... catch a wee buzzzzzz.... Funny stuff... something I had never heard of before - the weed was all tied up with a thread of some kind on this six inch long stick. I unwrapped the thread, stripped the stick, rolled a joint and smoked it. Herein lay the foundations of becoming disconnected with time.
On any regular night at the hostel, the gang gets together when darkness has completely settled on the city to catch a buzz and then go out dancing, drinking and generally partying. Lately they had been purchasing some good weed called "Thai Sticks". This stuff is legal in Amsterdam so if this is pushing your limits of propriety... deal with it. Now if, say six of the hostel gang got together, they would break about an inch off the stick, mix that with an entire cigarette (Peter Stivenstant bought Manhattan Island off the Indians for a bag of beads, so the Netherlands named their primary cigarette brand after him) of tobacco, roll this up, and share it around... thus producing six really stoned little party goers.
Are you getting the picture here? I finished that joint... sat down and for all intents and purposes passed out cold. This however, was really only my view of things. To the rest of the people in the hostel, there was another view. Apparently I turned on the radio, turned it up loud, and danced all over the three floors of people meeting everybody... Two Australian girls, Deb and Wendy, took a concerned shine to me and made sure I didn't leave the building by dancing around with me until my bro returned. From that moment forward I have no recollection of days.
But I did get along famously with all the inmates at the house of Rob Keith. :D
So, back to the roof. My bro had decided long ago that my name would be Corto. This is, I am told, a contraction of the Spanish word cortitto, meaning "shorty". When my brother left home to travel he was far and away taller than I, but had determined through letters from home that this was no longer the case. He was simply referring to me as "short". The name stuck. Carols could not speak a word of English but he could play a guitar and he could say Corto.
All of the buildings in the "walking district" of Amsterdam are separated by eight-foot alleyways. Oh sure, there are big 25 foot wide streets but from the roof top view, there does not seem to be anywhere you cannot go so long as you have a ten foot plank. Get the picture.
So Carlos serenades the setting sun, I spark up a joint and we sit on our roof noting the many other peeps doing the vary same thing on a variety of roof tops. It was all very surreal and somehow reminded me of the Chimney Sweep song and dance number from Marry Poppins. When darkness fell, Carlos stowed the guitar and we picked up our planks and begin traveling and visiting... at each successive roof top a new person - with a new language barrier, would be met, greeted and partied with for a bit. Eventually we would end up back on top of the Write Inn. From there we would join the gang as they set off on foot to various establishments bent on making you drunk and happy. I was a non-drinker then so I just basked in the glory of legalized dope and enjoyed myself.
Oh, and the song reference? The last Zeppelin album was released in Europe months before it was released in Canada and this song "in the evening" was playing everywhere... as was a brand new band called " Squeeze (cool for cats? member that?).