Drinkers With a Running Problem...
Me:”Chris and I did a hash today”
My Mom: “like hashish hash?”
Not quite... Hashing is actually an international phenomenon and Grenada has one of the most active chapters. They are self proclaimed “drinkers with a running problem”. This is group of people, anywhere between 50-400 people at a time, who meet every Saturday for a run in the bush followed by a BBQ, oil down (I’ll explain it in more detail later), beer and music. You can check them out at: http://grenadahash.com
Our day began by catching a local taxi/bus with 12 other cruisers. The driver took us to the chosen location which was in Mama Cannes on the south east side of the island. It was a tiny village with houses perched on a hillside surround by what looked like jungle. The hash was being hosted on someone’s private property. It was a two story building with the first level consisting only of a concrete floor with beams and it was open to the outside. Large speakers were set up and people were dancing to the blaring music; everything from the latest soca beats to popular western music from the ‘80s and ‘90s ie. MJ’s “The Way You’re Making Me Feel” and Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack”. There was a beer tent and a number of long tables set up with local women packaging individual portions of oil down (the national dish of Grenada) into styrofoam containers. Additionally, there were some BBQs at the ready for when the hungry hashers return.
It was a very well organized and well run machine. Chris and I paid our $2EC (74 cents CAD) and signed in. They make everyone sign in and out so that no one is left behind. The hashers were a varied group of people. There were old and young, locals, cruisers and tourists. There were also students from the island’ university, St. George’s. In total there were probably around 150 people.
“Would all the virgins step forward”. I would have been a little nervous, not sure what to expect, however Chris and I had been warned during our bus ride. “If you are asked if you are wearing new shoes, say no!”. I looked around and noticed a few of the “virgins” only had one shoe on and Chris and I had a little chuckle. The ones with only one shoe were asked to step forward. A warm beer was then poured into their missing “new” shoe and they were asked to drink up. Thankfully there was no question the shoes we were wearing were old and we were able to avoid this initiation. This was the first of two times during the event that I was glad I didn’t have new shoes on. The second time was the minute I realized that there was no way I was coming out of this with clean anything. We had to embrace the mud, which we happily did.
Next the rules were read to us. Ie. it’s not a race, help your neighbour, stay on the marked trail. Finally we were off, a mass of people walking into the bush. The trail was marked with little piles of shredded paper. The beginning of the trail was a steep climb up a muddy hill. More than one person took a tumble and slid back onto their knees or butt. Soon we were in the thick of it, with green everywhere. We ran up, down and around, over and under logs and vines careful not to slip on the mud and fall down the side of who knows what. It was so much fun, so much so that I forgot to take pictures of all the amazing scenery. At one point we came to a clearing where we had to walk between these two unleashed bulls (one who did not seem thrilled about it).
After about 40 minutes we returned a little winded and covered in mud with smiles from ear to ear. An outdoor faucet allowed us wash down and then we signed back in and grabbed a beer and some food. Chris was eager to get some BBQ chicken and I wanted to try the oil down. So what exactly is an oil down, other than delicious? It’s fish, chicken, plantain, dumplings, carrots, calaloo, breadfruit, coconut milk, turmeric and other spices all placed in a pot and boiled for hours until it makes a yummy stew. It’s pretty labour intensive and that’s why it’s not often served in restaurants and that’s also why I had to try it. It was so good and I was so hungry that I forgot to take a picture until it was almost gone...sorry.
Just when we thought it was time to go the “virgins” were called back to the front. They asked us to huddle together and smile for the camera. “Cheese, wait, aaargh!” The veteran hashers had circled us and sprayed shaken bottles of beer all over us. Back to the water faucet we went.
This was an event not to be missed. It was such positive community filled with camaradery, positivity, adventure, fitness, music and great food and beer. If you ever find yourself in Grenada I would definitely attend a hash.