Sunday, April 22, 2012

Grenada - They call it a Hash

If anyone ever asks you to join them going to a Hash, especially in the West Indies, by all means, strap on your trail shoes (Tevas or sneakers in my case) and some old cloths that you don't mind getting quite muddy, and respond... ON, ON!

When I was first invited to a Hash, I was a little confused.  The only hash I was aware of was something you ate for breakfast, or smoked while in college.  I soon found out that there is a third definition...  Here I'm paraphrasing / plagiarizing from the Grenada Hash House Harriers web site:

Hashing started in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur in what was then Malaysia. 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 facility was 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 eventually 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.

So, that's the gist of it.  In Grenada, the trails begin and end at a Rum Shop (ie tiny bar that serves beer and rum and might have a table or two inside to sit down, but probably not.)  If you're not paying attention, you might mistake a typical back country rum shop as a storage shack.  In the photo below you can see part of a typical rum shop (small shack on the left), and a crowd of hashers surrounding it.  Everybody's clean, so this must have been taken while waiting for the hash to start.

The hashes are held every one or two weeks, and the trails are unique each time.  In preparation for the hash, one or two "hares" spend a couple of days scouting out an appropriate route, that will usually include a mix of roads, private yards, trails through the brush and rain forest, and freshly blazed paths through the brush and rain forest.  The route is marked with blobs of shredded paper, and there are often two or three false trails thrown in to each route to spice things up a little.


Depending on the temperament of the hare who laid out the route, the trail can either be a fairly gentle run or walk through the countryside of Grenada or it can be a mad scramble up and down the mountainous rain forests, requiring you to grasp at roots to clamber up a steep muddy hills and and then slide back down, possibly on your butt.  The muddiest hash we participated in was the weekend Tropical Storm Irene's outer bands were soaking Grenada.


There are usually two trails, one for walkers and one for runners.  The runner path is a little longer so that everyone has about 2 hours of time on the trail before arriving back at the rum shop.  Once back at the rum shop, you find delicious and inexpensive BBQ chicken, conch water or goat water (soup), and oil-down (a local favorite, with stewed chicken, green bananas, plantains, dasheen and dumplings).  And, of course, ice cold Carib beer.  If you have more courage than sense, you can also sample their local "Jack Iron" rum.  They serve it in small bottles for sipping with a side of water.   It is the harshest thing I have EVER tasted, and leaves you a bit rough in the morning.

All three of us enjoyed the hashes very much, and hashed almost every week we were in Grenada.  I've done both the walker's and runner's trail, but usually did the walkers so I could team up with Quinn.   Here's a photo of Quinn after one of the more strenuous hashes.  He's exhausted, but you can tell he had a good time!

If you are into eco-tourism, Grenada is a great place to visit.  I'm certain that a hash would be the highlight of your trip!

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