Where are we? In Tirana, Albania. (Where they speak Albanian.)
Who are we? We’re old expat friends who got to know each other in far-away Indonesia more than twenty-five years ago as members of the local Hash House Harriers running and beer drinking club in the town of Semarang, Java. Can you believe this? Twenty five years ago!
Now we live all over the world and every year we come together somewhere in Europe for a reunion run and lots of socializing. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it does not actually involve that kind of hash (as far as I know). Yes, I deceived you with my blog title and for that I’m truly not sorry.
We’re in Albania this year because one of us is gainfully employed running a water project here and his fabulous German wife has organized the event. Kids and even grand kids have come along for the fun. How amazing is that? The ‘kids’ are grown now but used to play and go to school together in Indonesia. Now they’re bringing their own kids.
A couple of years ago we were in England. “Just look at us,” our Hash Master said to me as a group of us were drinking our fourth pot of afternoon tea in our hotel (you know, the English way). “Did you ever think that we Hashers would be sitting here drinking tea?”
No, I did not. Indonesia was far away and long ago, and our HHH rituals never involved sedately sipping tea. They involve gulping beer, quite unsedately — gulping beer as fast as you can manage, and what you can’t get down your throat you pour over your head. It’s the custom. Yes, I can hear your collective groans.
If you’ve never heard of the Hash House Harriers, you’ll think we’re crazy, and what can I say, you’re right. But trust me, you are missing something. Just click on the link and all will be revealed to you, even the ‘hash.” Hash House Harrier clubs are to be found all over the world, and are often unkindly described as drinking clubs with a running problem. Members go on group runs (often to great entertainment of the locals) following trails laid through rubber plantations, fields, mountains, deserts, jungles, villages and towns.
At the end of the run we gather in a circle and have a ceremony, which is a dignified word for something quite undignified.
Our HHH rituals include chanting of a non-spiritual sort, pouring beer over our heads (as I mentioned), singing really bad national songs from our various countries, and doing other dumb stuff. Really, I should not be telling you this because now you’ve probably lost all respect for me and won’t ever want to be seen in public with me. But so be it.
Our run here in Albania was a tough one through rough mountain terrain, and I must admit I’ve never felt more like a mountain goat.
Fortunately we got away without heart attacks or broken bones. And in the evening we even had energy left for dancing.
So here we are in Albania, our yearly run over, but we’re staying on for a while to enjoy time with old friends, have leisurely meals, lovely wine, and good talks. And of course we take time for walks around the capital Tirana and to explore the rest of Albania, a beautiful Mediterranean country with good food and friendly people. (More about that in another post.)
Next year we’ll all come to Holland, my home country, properly called The Netherlands. We’re already looking forward to it because, well, it’s so nice and flat there.
On On, as we Hashers say.
Note: If you want more indept info, here’s the link to The World Hash House Harriers Home Page.
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Have you ever been on a Hash? Please share your tales! Or do tell about other fun or eccentric sporting events you have encountered with foreigners or in foreign countries.