Friday, July 27, 2007

hash, not hashish

hash, not hashish

every other weekend is the moshi Hash. the term was unfamiliar to me, though it is an international phenomenon. A hash is a running (though you may walk) trail set by the Hasher of interesting and difficult paths, including false trails. the "hounds" - runners follow a trail marked by spots of flour or sometimes a check marked by an "x." at the check you have to search for which direction to go to pick the trail up again. it all can lead to mass confusion, even once the correct path is found by the front runners. they are meant to leave an arrow pointing the way to the next flour but the arrow never seems to stay put, so you get lost anyway. at the end of the whole thing you celebrate with beer, though we always have other things as well as moshi is a family town. :)

this was only my second hash as i have been paragliding or climbing or at pangani for the others. the first one was a very beautiful walk though a valley and up and down some steep ledges- all through a rural area called Machame that i am unfamiliar with. this one was set from a friend of our's house in moshi proper, but again through an area that i didn't know existed.

having run earlier in the day with john, i contented myself to walk along with Rick (a brit phd student who studies "mwoh-squitoes" as he calls them. ew. kcmc has the best center for malaria research in at least East Africa. doesn't make me feel better about not taking malaria meds while i'm here. he actually pays people to go spend the night in this hut they have built to test different repellents with "wild" mosquitoes.)

Greg, todays hasher, had set a rather difficult path, spreading the flour quite far apart so you really had to search for the next spot. he also put 2 sections straight through the river. fun and challenging if you can jump from rock to rock, but not so fun if you are a "wrinkly" as my mother is now calling herself and all the old people we know, including the pair of octogenarians visiting our friends Kay and Russel that mother was keeping time with. they all managed the first slippery slope into the river bed, but when several young women went sliding off the rocks into the river, everyone paused.

so here we were-the walkers-half the younger across or nearly across, me in the middle, all the wazee (old) on the opposite bank. huge rocks, a deep fast current in cutting the trail. probably for the best, they decided the wrinklies should stop and climb straight up the bank back to the last pasture. all well and good, except that Barney, Kay and Russel's fabulous huge dog that i love had already carefully bounded his way over half the huge rocks. Barney, though he adores hashes and quivers near to heart attack at the thought of them, very faithfully runs back and forth checking on them throughout the trail. there was no way for him to go one way and them another unless he was leashed. so they called him back again. but the rocks were not made for crossing both directions.

just as he reached me, his back feet slipped and he went careening into the water. the current immediately swept him backwards down the river. he paddled and paddled as we all started shouting, but the current was too strong. he managed to grip his little front claws on a small rock, but was too exhausted to pull himself up. i looked down at his soaked, petrified face peering up through the water, his toenails scratching helplessly on the small rock as his huge body swam against the current.

i plunged in. stupid perhaps, but what can you possibly do? leave him? there was no way to haul him up as he was. the current grabbed me, pulling me past him, but i managed to get hold of a boulder just behind barney. lodging my body against the rock i could wedge myself underneath barney's flailing legs, letting him rest. russel meanwhile climbed down over the first rocks, kay right behind him. once he had caught his breath russel pulled his front paws up and he was able to use me as a step ladder. barney gone, i slipped myself, flying back, the water up to my shoulders, and had to grab hands to catch the rock again.

though he was out of the water, we still had to get him across the river one way or another. deciding he couldn't make it backwards we sent him on across to the young people. with his leash around my neck, i half swam, half climbed the rest of the way across. kay decided she better come to, just in case something happened--dogs are feared terribly in tanzania, even though he is completely sweet.

i'm glad those of us that did made it on as the trail had all sorts of fun, confusing bits. at one point we had to crawl belly first through some hedges near the hidden prison. but i'm also glad the wrinklies turned around. break a hip in moshi and the only thing to do is fly immediately to europe or america to be attended to. seriously!

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