Letting the Khat Out of the Bag

The annals of travel writing are filled with dudes (and dudettes) scouring the deserts, seas and foreset canopies for the next great high. People like William Bourroughs, Hunter Thompson and even Paul Bowles were known for their explorations of both the globe and the mind…pharmacologically speaking. One drug that you don’t hear a lot about, though, is also one of the most popular drugs around in certain regins of the world. The drug is called khat, and while I’eve never tried it, I know some folks who have. It looks to me a bit like a shrub, like something that might grow next to your house. But khat is not a drug in the peyote/marijuana sense. It’s more of a stimulant, although it does have psycho-tropic qualities. Or so, as I say, I’m told.

In this marvelous article from Esquire, writer Kevin Fedarko goes to Djibouti in search of khat and the allure of this extremely popular chewable drug. It is part informative travelogue, part adventure mystery and part, well, drug experimentation saga. It’s rather long, but totally worth it. I wanted to print it out and read it on the subway home tonight, but wouldn’t seem to figure out how to do that so if anyone figures that out, let us know. But read this one for sure.