• Brian D. Hinson

Buying Weed in Malawi

After setting up our tents on the sandy shores of Lake Malawi, it was time to explore. I was with a group doing a six-nation tour of southern Africa. An English friend told me she heard that the weed in Malawi was the finest in the world.

I wanted to test this boast.

I set off toward the village on foot and not far along the road a young man offered to be my guide and asked me if I might like to buy some ganga.

Well, that was easy.

I said yes to both things, and we made a deal on price and amount. He whistled for his friend as we approached the huts of the village, and the money was ferried away with a promise of the finest cannabis to be delivered shortly. In the meantime, this fellow wanted show off his village.

Thatched houses and business were scattered about and children in brightly colored clothes ran around in the dust barefoot. Women smiled at me as they tended to errands and chores. My new friend was proud of his infant daughter and showed her to me. I took their picture.

The weed arrived wrapped in long, dried leaves. The odor was pleasant and pungent. In my pocket it went.

I was led to a woodshop with shelves filled with traditional carvings in African themes: local wildlife and people in traditional clothing. Surely my guide would get a cut of anything I purchased. There was a lot of interesting work in there. I specifically needed a pipe, and chose one where the bowl was a screaming face. Several other works caught my eye, and soon I was settled at a table with my chosen items, negotiating the price with the shopkeeper.

Outside I see a local policeman. We lock eyes. Me, with a pocket full of a quarter ounce of cannabis. I got that feeling when you tilt your chair back and you start to tip back too far and you realize that you’re about to fall over. Was this all a set-up to get me busted by the cops? Was I about to be taken to a Malawian jail? Maybe a scheme to get me to shell out a hefty bribe? I looked away.

I must have looked ashen. My friend asked, “Is something wrong?” He saw the policeman outside of the shop and laughed. “Are you worried about him? He buys from me, too!” He clapped me on the shoulder and I nervously joined in the laughter, my mind not quite ready to break from the panic that made my chest feel hollow.

But the cop strolled on by. I sighed quietly and relaxed.

I made my purchases, and my friend guided me back to the lake.

I got together with my English friend and we got so damn high. Malawi weed certainly earned my respect.

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