We were ‘expats’ for over 10 years. It holds to reason that if you ever get ‘into hashing’ it will be during your stint as an expat. Afterall, hashing started out as a completely colonial endeavor, with British Colonial officers running and drinking beer and calling it a club in Malaysia all the way back to the 1930’s.
Ghana had a hash chapter – though I only knew this after witnessing a motley crew of local and expats in athletic gear, running past our little compound house alley during my volunteer days. I read their bright t-shirts and asked around. It was a running/drinking club called a hash. Oh, ok...
Never have been into running and I maintain I will only run if chased, and maybe not even then. So hashing has never been a club I sought out.
Then we came to the Caribbean and joined the loose subculture of ‘cruisers’ who float around the various bays of Grenada. And through the morning net announcements, we heard about the Inter-Caribbean hash event, spanning 5 days. It promised to be a great way to see the island – inland from our little bays – and get a bit of exercise. AND you didn’t have to run. There are everything from pansy trails to iron man ones. Great!
We started our association with hashers the best way – at their after party on the first night. We are anchored off our favourite little island ‘Hog’ and the hash led the runners to our quaint beachfront. So the least we could do was hop in the dinghy and join the party.
I learned a lot more about the whole ‘hash thing’ at this event. The more I heard, the more it all reminded me of a global cult where members had a secret connection, something that seems to bind them all. There are code words like “ON ON” and “ON IN” referring to the trails, and “ON ON ON” or “ON AFTER”, referring to the after parties.
Hashers have nicknames that they defend and cherish with a frightening passion. Some have these names displayed boldly around their necks in black and white beads. There is a hash master and there are hares (those who lead the trails), and hounds, (who follow).
They call new hashers virgins, who must go through an initiation process that most likely involves being showered with beer.
There is something cute yet creepy about all this.
We met a Canadian from Edmonton who had flown in for the hash and she told us her hash name was Northern Exposure because she had pulled the pants of a hash master down, and the story went on... She explained that she and a few friends now base every holiday around global hashes. And they know that they will be welcomed, their ‘language’ will be understood and their hash names will be honoured.
By tonight, we’ll have completed our first hash and may or may not be covered in a sticky residue of barley and hops…
We will have seen the Annandale Falls and will have met some new friends for sure.
But will we be converted to the cult? On on to find out!