Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Hashing" in Grenada... What's it all about?

Credit: Grenada Hash Harriers website
I first read the word "hashing" when I read the blogs of friends friends Rene and Stacy (Pipe Muh Bligh) and Deana and Troy (Storyville) about their adventures in Grenada.  I thought “this must be a local term in Grenada for hiking” and I didn’t give it another thought until I got to Grenada.  I had to see what this “hashing” was all about!

I looked up “hashing” on the internet and found that it is a worldwide phenomenon! Hashing started in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur in what was then Malaya. It was conceived by three expatriate Brits who belonged to the prestigious Selangor Club (still standing to this day as a historic social club, fronting on to the cricket ground in the centre of Kuala Lumpur.)

The Club’s dining annex was derogatorily referred to as The Hash House (presumably because it served horrific British fare). The Hash founders wanted a sport which involved some energetic physical activity without getting in the way of their beer drinking routines.

So hashing was born, a fun run based on the Hounds and Hares concept - following a prepared trail through the stunning Malayan countryside.
Trails were set with flour and led back to a drinking establishment where merriment and irreverent camaraderie ensued. Today, there are Hash kennels in some 110 countries and territories around the world.

Some countries, like Britain, Australia and the US have over a hundred kennels each. Hashing has its rules, customs and traditions. Hashers have hash names, mostly ego-bruising or revealing personal shortcomings or peccadilloes. An international hash (InterHash) is held in a different part of the world every two years. This year’s InterHash is in Goa, India – over 4,000 hashers are scheduled to attend.

Hashing in Grenada

So Grenada has it’s own kennel… the Grenada Hash Harriers!  Participating in a hash is a great way to explore the beautiful countryside of Grenada and a great way to meet locals and visiting cruisers, and expats living in Grenada.  

Almost every Saturday, at 4:00 p.m., a motley group of assorted runners and walkers assemble at a previously designated rum shop, somewhere in Grenada.  There are fast runners, slow runners, fast walkers, and slow walkers. Guess which one I was in?? The slow walkers of course!

The trail is determined previously by a group of dedicated people (the “hares”) who map out the course for that week and lay a trail of shredded paper which marks the trail that takes the “pack” through some of the most attractive parts of the island.  Everyone runs or walks at their own pace, at their own risk, and with the knowledge of their own limitations. Some of the trails can be difficult. If unhappy about the trail ahead (usually related to unbelievably high hills!), one turn backs and follow the trail back to the rum shop.

Everyone returns to the rum shop a couple of hours later to consume large quantities of beer and undo all the good that this running and walking has done to them.

The hash for the Saturday I chose was Hash #842, Belmont Street, St. George's. It began at a small bar called Lucy's Snack Shop.  

Everyone arrives about an hour before the hash...milling around, regaling each other with memories of past hashes and waiting for the hash to begin.  At 4:00 p.m., the Hash Master announces the guidelines for the hash.  

One of the hash “hares”, Lynn, walked through the crowd and identified hashers that had on new shoes and asked that they remove one.  Before the start of the hash, the one-shoed hashers were called to the front of the crowd.  

Beer was poured into the shoe and the hasher had to drink it.  Thankfully I avoided this activity… I had on my well worn hiking boots! 

My hashing buddy was Libby Cross (s/v Peregrine).  We were evenly matched in fitness and we were among the slow walkers. Not the slowest, mind you, but we weren’t walking fast!  The hash began with a walk straight up a road, then we turned off on a muddy trail.  It was close quarters trying to hike up a narrow, slippery, muddy path straight up a hill.  It was hard to get traction because there were so many people back to back.  

Once we got off the narrow trail, we started a gradual uphill climb on a road.  Everyone began to spread out… runners started running and walkers began to walk at different paces.  The road got steeper and steeper!  

I did bring my camera and was able to get a few photos, but after about an hour, it was all about survival!  I only thought I was in pretty good shape!  It was hot, with no wind, and the hills were tough.  Libby showed me how to zigzag my way up the steep hills to make it easier.  

After a while on the road, we turned off into the countryside and hiked up to the top through someone’s farmland.  The view from the top was beautiful.  We stopped to rest and visited with the landowner, and kept going.

When we returned to the rum shop one and one-half hours later, Libby and I celebrated finishing the hash.  

Photo Credit: Brian Steele, Facebook

We hung out and watched the post-hash activities, which included spraying the “hash virgins” with beer (no, I did not reveal I was a virgin!).  There was a barbecue, plenty of beer, and good times!  

Photo Credit: David Cross, s/v Peregrine

My first hash was a success!  I plan to hash again as soon as I get a chance…. if I can walk after I recover from this one!

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