Saturday, September 26, 2009

First Hash Experience

We decided to join our friends from school on our first Hash House Harrier experience. The event was described to us as “runners with a drinking problem” or “drinkers with a running problem.”  It is an international social/drinking/running organization with no rules, only traditions, as each chapter (kennel) is bound only by title.

El Hashers

The HHH in Alex meets once a week at the Portuguese Club (an expat bar tucked away on a narrow side street off a major avenue). It is literally one of those places where you have to go with somebody who knows where it is as there are no markings. In our first time going there, we were lead down a dark street to a metal gate. The leader of the group knocked on the door and we are let into a waiting chamber of sorts where the doorman checked for member ids and issued visitor passes to us non-members for a couple of bucks. After the initial check-in, you are asked to sign-in their log stating your name and county of origin. Once this formality is completed you may venture past the second set of doors into what feels like a temporary trip out of Egypt.

The P.C. is fitted with the basic amenities of what you might find in a typical pub; there is pool table, darts, food, music, sheesha (hookah), and drinks. The beer selection is meager (Stella, Sakara, and Heineken); there is only one brand of wine offered and maybe a couple bottles of spirits...the bare essentials. 

The Hashers (runners) gather at the P.C. between 3:30-4:00 pm every Friday (our version of Saturday) for pre-running socializing, then at 4 pm we are ushered out to a van or taxis that will take us to the run location. For this event we took a couple of taxis out past the city limits into a small farming community. The trails are already pre-marked with clumps of shredded paper, as to distinguish real trails from the fake ones. The objective is to locate the “real” trail and to make it back in time. In total the run is approx. 5K. 

Our marker for the run


There were five of us that opted to walk, which was lead by Zach from Ohio. Zach has been living in a hotel at a mall for the last six-months, his company had sent him here for what was originally going to be a two-week gig. The walk was pleasant and most of the locals wondered what the hell foreigners in shorts were doing running around their fields dodging, sheep, goats, and oxen. We waved and said hello to them and they welcomed us. It is amazing what a smile and a wave can do.

 Egyptian Pee-Wee Bike


More Friends

At the end of the run we gathered around one of the hashers SUV, which carried the table, water, beer, and of course the ceremonial cups. The tradition is that each person is recognized for something and they have to stand in the middle of a circle and chug beer from the cup and toss the remainder over their head while the group sings a song. In our case, Ana and I were recognized for being newbie’s. Click on the video below for the song. 

New Kids on the Block

Only one of the taxi drivers returned so it was a tight squeeze getting everyone back to the Portuguese Club. From the get go the ride was already an adventure. The driver thought he’d save some time and drive backwards on the highway for a short distance so he wouldn’t have to drive an extra 2K to make a u-turn. Hey, where there’s a will there’s a way. I did manage to get a few seconds on video.

Duct Tape magic

Back at the P.C. we ended the evening with dinner, drinks, and darts. Ana and I opted to walk home since we were penniless or I should say pound less. The 45-minute walk took us through some new lively areas we haven’t been to. The key was to follow the tram tracks back home.   

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