Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Hash Day - or a Series of Unnecessary Asides
Hashing is a popular pastime in Moshi. At a Hash, one or more "Hares" lay a trail, which is then followed by the remainder of the group, called the "Hounds". The trail can include false trails, short cuts, dead ends, and splits, etc. to make it a bit tricky.
A hash is held by the local chapter in Moshi every two weeks. I first heard of Hashes during my University Studies Class at Ole Miss, but never actually joined a Hash until last week. Knowledge of the Hash was about the only useful bit of information I took away from the curiously-required University Studies course my freshman year, which was mostly made up of esoteric trivia such as the difference between a "college" and a "university", why the Lyceum's architects chose ionic over doric for their columns, etc. etc. Regardless of how useless the class was, I actually drove through the night from an illicit James Taylor concert in Birmingham to make sure that I didn't miss the 8am start for this class. As for why the trip to Birmingham was "illicit", well that is another tale for another day...
As for the Hash, there were plenty of parents with their kids, some of whom were backpacked, so we figured it had to be an afternoon of good family fun.
Not this one.
This one involved climbing through a river - over and back 4 times - and scrambling down, and then up from the inside of a valley with Townes on my back - screaming - for about an hour. Luckily, we had a world record holder to assist us through the rough bits. His name is Simon. As you can imagine, Simon is incredibly fit. He is a Tanzanian who first learned to run when he enlisted in the Police Academy in Tanzania, which strangely enough, is known to be a forming ground for some of East Africa's great runners. If his status as a world record holder doesn't provide a sufficient idea of his level of fitness, Simon has run up Kilimanjaro in 6 hours assisted, which means that people help him with food and water, and 9 hours unassisted. Unassisted is even more impressive than the name implies because it requires one to forage for water en route, since it is too heavy to pack the required amounts up the mountain.
Did I mention that Kilimanjaro is the name of the local purified water brand? "N'taka kununua Mage" is Kiswahili for "I would like to buy water". The lady at the pharmacy taught me that.
When it comes to general level of fitness, I have to give credit to Tony Horton and his P90X series. He's really helped my general level of fitness over the past 3 months. Especially the Yoga. I had always been someone who was mildly interested in Yoga, but never particularly interested to take the time. Sure I had seen photos of poses like "Tree" and "Corpse" and "Happy Baby" and laughed at them. Who hasn't? But when you add them to a 90 minute work out they start to make sense. All I can say is that there are things I can do at 33 that I couldn't do at 21 and it's not because I can do 12 push-ups: It's because of Yoga.
And as a point of reference, it takes 3-5 days for an average hiker to acclimatize and ascend Kilimajaro.
So, back to the Hash: at the end of the trip, I must admit that the cold beer never tasted so good, and Townes was happy at the end to play with the dogs, so we couldn't really complain.
As for beer, it's quite tasty here and, I must admit, it has been refreshing to see Tusker on the menu again. It reminds me of the days with Andy, sipping Tusker and thinking of our numerous odd encounters in Kenya. Plus, likely the most elaborate spreadsheet ever created for measuring poinsettia value...
Any way, as for Townes and hashing. I think he'll stay home for the next one, and likely will not be hashing again until some odd professor recommends it to him....