Many cruisers spend hurricane season in Grenada’s capital St. Georges or in the bays along the south coast. So many boats make for a very active cruising community and a busy Cruisers’ Net on VHF channel 68, six mornings a week. We can all join yoga sessions, play dominoes, watch sports on big screen TV’s in different bars, go on organized island tours, join shopping trips, gossip over cocktails and beers during various happy hours, or pick from a whole array of other, cruiser-friendly happenings. For people wanting to do or try something entirely different, there’s a activity that is growing in popularity, not only with cruisers, but also with the local population. This event is called a ‘hash’ and it takes place every Saturday during the summer and often twice-a-week during the winter season. Everyone is welcome.
A hash is an aggressive walk or run that takes you through forests and pretty countryside, up and over hills, past rivers and through pastures. Greeting local land-owners and mooing cows, you’ll enjoy expansive views and a personal workout, while following a marked trail and – possibly – sliding in the mud. People of all ages, nationalities, cultures, religions, backgrounds and strength participate in the hash and no competition is involved. Everybody walks or runs at his or her own pace, achieving their goal of reaching the finish or turning back to the starting point where Caribbean beer and affordable Grenadian food is available.
The Hash House Harriers is a worldwide organization with ‘branches’ (known as kennels) all over the world. Currently, 1976 hash groups, located in 1292 cities and 185 countries, are registered, amongst which are many from the Caribbean.
The act of hashing was invented in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur, where three British expats wanted to enjoy some physical activity without changing their beer drinking routines. So, they ran a trail set with flour, that ended at a drinking establishment, where the calories lost during the exercise came back in the form of beer, and camaraderie ensued.
Hashing has its own rules and traditions. Hashers, dubbed ‘drinkers with a running problem’, receive hash names and use terms like, ‘are you?’ when trying to determine whether they are on the right trail, ‘on on’ when indicating they are on the right trail, and ‘on in’ when reaching the end of the trail. A first time hasher is a virgin and at the end of your trial hash, you receive a Certificate of Loss of Virginity. Other traditions worth mentioning – and involving beer – are the breaking in of new shoes and the christening of virgins. In Grenada, every hash takes place in a different location and HHH signs point you to the start of the event. Buses for cruisers are organized and leave from different anchorages to reach that Saturday’s destination safely and timely.
When you decide to join a hash in Grenada, be ready to sweat, have fun, try local delicacies – in liquid or solid form – and meet new friends. After a short introduction by the Hash Master, you are set loose to follow a shredded paper trail (beware of the false trails) through Grenada’s stunning interior to arrive at the point you started with new memories and interesting stories to tell. Proof of the island’s Hash House Harriers’ success was its 700th edition at the beginning of September. More than 600 hashers showed up, amongst them were a record number of 100 cruisers, and Grenada’s Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas, who thoroughly enjoyed the event.
If you would like some exercise away from your boat, off the beaten track while exploring parts of Grenada you would otherwise miss, then a hash is exactly what you are looking for.
Liesbet Collaert is a former teacher and freelance writer who lives and cruises on S/V Irie with her husband, Mark. For more stories and pictures, visit: www.itsirie.com and her blog: http://xwaters.com/blogs/liesbets-blog