Well I’m back from Peru and after an exhaustive customs check, I’ve got the all clear. But it did make me think of something that was topical while I was over there. See Peru has a great reputation for growing and cultivating coca. Their neighbors, specifically Columbia, an even greater reputation for taking the bi-product cocaine and selling it to the US. But it’s important to know that coca leaves and cocaine are almost mutually exclusive. So I am going bullshit detective on coca leaves get you high.
Cocaine is a drug that takes a ridiculous amount of coca leaves to make. The leaves apparently are chewed until you have loads of it and somehow refined into the blow we all know in the movies. As I’ve now discovered first hand, chewing a mouth full of coca leaves will not get you high. You’d could chew all day and night and not get anywhere!
What coca leaves do do is help with altitude sickness, digestion and general well being. In our travels in Peru, we actually found coca flour. It must of been made from ultra ground coca leaves. Basically it’s in a green powerdery form. A teaspoon of that in hot water a day and it will cure whatever ails you trust me! I swear by it. Very high in calcium and a bunch of vitamins too.
In daily life, Peruvians especially will drink mate de coca (coca tea, basically a handful of coca leaves in hot water). Farmers chew the leaves as they work. There’s even coca lollies. They ain’t chocolate flavour but it is an acquired taste. So in essence, half of Peru eats them everyday and they’re a digestive at best. Most restaurants and guest houses have coca leaves in a jar on the table like salt and pepper.
The problem is apparently that the President of Peru is fumigating massive coca plantations. It is the beginnings of the criminalisation of the coca plant, not just cocaine. This sucks. Furthermore, having experienced the health benefits of coca leaves first hand (call it travelers’ stomach eating too much rich food!), it’s a pretty stupid state of affairs.
So in Peru, you will see shirts and stickers that say ‘Coca, la hoja de coca no es druga‘ or ‘coca is not a drug’. I support them whole heartedly. Because look at what happened to marijuana after world war two. Hemp went from being mandatory in the US to grow for the war effort (to make parachutes and ropes, military kinda stuff) to being wiped out because it threated the whole paper industry in peace time. And it’s still criminalised. I hope Peru don’t end up down this path. Sure blow is a dirty business but coca’s not the problem.