Pedro Ávila

In Amsterdam people don’t just exist in the wet and cold; they live it. It’s a way of life here. The atmosphere is more liquid than gas, more water than oxygen. I find it amazing that humans can survive at all, and wondered for a while if the Dutch have some special adaptation for the environment. But the large tourist population, though in constant flux, does suggest the place is attractive to other humans. It’s just that it rains all the time, and not just precipitation. It RAINS. This is some old testament shit lately.


“you’ll never see me wear a suit of white”_

The past two days have been a freak show on which epic poems should be written. The weather goes from gloriously sunny, not a cloud in the sky to dark and furious, the wind sweeping the hail from the streets before it can melt, lifting up even the ones already fallen. It was deserving of Johnny Cash tunes coming from a radio in the corner by the kitchen turned just low enough that you can hear the music over the voices in the cafe but the lyrics are mumbled; a dark and melancholy mixtures of minor chords and baptist sayings that annoy me a bit but make the song genuine.

Yeah. In this darkness falls hail, non-stop furious hail for short bursts. Then, rain. Plenty of that.

A few minutes later it’s sunny again. No trace of the downpour. This cycle has repeated itself again and again every 10 minutes for 48 hours now. Who can put up with this kind of thing? It’s hard to plan a trip to breakfast or a mid-day coffee sneak-out like this. Hell, it’s hard to choose the music with the mood changing all the time. No wonder the Dutch are so obtuse; nobody can stay grounded when the fucking weather freaks you out. It’s like Mother Nature’s natural PMS. Imagine what their government is like…


“I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back…”_

I went out in between paragraphs and coffees to feel the gusts that I could see brushed onto the shimmering puddles outside and WHAM! – just like that, I saw the roof rip off the bus stop and fly out into traffic. I looked around and saw the obvious tourists gaping at the wreck. Women had screamed and men had startled, and everyone went into fight-or-flight mode in that kind of surprise. Everyone except the Dutch. They continued with their coffee. I turned toMerinda, who runs the cafe I like to frequent, and wailed.


“Ya, mahn. Dat is some stroang vinds, eh?” was all she said, and she went right back to cleaning up her coffee counter.

The sun took a little longer to come back that time; that’s ok, though. The sound of Johnny Cash on the radio brought me back indoors first.

“up front there ought to be a man in black…”

Speaking of flipping out, the Dutch government has completely lost it, apparently. In a couple of weeks you will be able to count the whores in the red-light district on just two sets of hands, or roughly, the number of condoms on a good hooker at any given time. After that, who knows?

Like the polar bears, they will soon be gone from their native habitats. Also like the polar bears, nobody is scurrying to put them on an endangered-species list. Strange.

The city council here bought the land and the properties and is starting to renovate and refresh, putting up fancy white displays with fake-plastic jewels and eventually restaurants of the high-end variety. They’re calling it ‘red-light fashion’ and I’d like to meet the bright spark of a marketing student that came up with that one. I’d take pleasure in doming him the favor of smacking the lame right off his face. It’s fascinating to watch, though, both in the day and at night now, with red windows next to white ones, hot girls barely dressed in straps in one window and strap-less dresses barely girl-ed in the next.

Sure there is more to Amsterdam: there’s cheese. There’s art. There’s… well – other things. But the hookers and the mushrooms and the tolerance are a big part of it all, and it’s madness to think that the city would be what it is without those girls, the flowers of the sex-trade. Without them, who the hell is going to come to Amsterdam, and why? For hail?


Pedro Ávila Pedro Ávila

For a reasonably sane & productive member of society (arguable, but let’s not complicate things), I’m far too mobile and unrooted. I travel quite a bit for a job that is simultaneously my greatest privilege and my worst burden.

So I write. And I write. Travel pieces, political journalism (a stretch from ranting but, still), short stories, poetry and other such riff-raff. I contribute to a handful of publications and will probably just keep going until something gives out, or someone gives in.


The Site

"It's a fresh look, based on Google's material design. The design is responsive... see? It adjusts to your mobile or tablet device, so th...… Continue reading

Of smiles and roars