Monday, 28 November 2011

On surely teenagers and English weather during an African HASH..AHT

I have been allowed to contribute to the Blog…Yipee. But, as Zanner’s posts have been really good I feel under pressure to write something interesting (stop reading now so as not to be disappointed!).
 As Zan has said I am doing voluntary work at the International School, which is quite an experience. To-date I have been concentrating on delivering presentation skills, although it doesn’t form part of the International Baccalaureate some of the graded learning outcomes are delivered via presentation. So in effect a poor presentation can have a huge impact upon their overall grade. The students by and by are much like any other around the world I have met. They feign an outwardly surly attitude underlined by a distinct air of not needing to be told anything as they know everything. However, deep down they are going through a really difficult period and I believe it is our responsibility to help as much as possible guide them through the tick boxes necessary to get though this stage to the next in an interesting and invigorating way.

The school have asked if I can help with their UN Resolution Debating team who are to present their own resolutions at the UN Congress in Nairobi 2012. It is really exciting to see such a small school preparing to take on the kind of debate usually reserved for university teams. We are also hoping to create a mediation programme to introduce the students to ADR.

So the HASH, I’m told there is a similar thing in the UK but have to admit to never hearing of it before! It is rather like fox and hounds, two people (foxes) leave 30mins ahead of the bunch (hounds) and drop markers (flour) along a route. The markers are sometimes dropped at 15mtr intervals until you come across an X which means the next marker has to be found somewhere around 50mtrs of the X but, this can be anywhere in any direction. The fox does a circuitous route back to the cars covering around 10km.

This HASH was run by one of the longest running HASH organisers who is an amazing guy called Greg who owns a coffee plantation and farm here in Tanzania; he originates from one of oldest Mazungu (White) families in Tanzania.

We started at altitude (3400mtr) in the Kilimanjaro National Park, following a 3hr journey in 4x4s. The air was extremely thin but what was shocking to me was the cold and completely English looking environment surrounding us.  The foxes set off as we readied ourselves, with the runners to the front and the pack to the back; There were around 45 people making the trip. After the allotted time we were off, my enthusiasm sending me to the front as I bounded off down the trail, Nordic sticks helping me jump over rocks and mud pools at a surprising rate. Around the 2km mark I felt like someone had placed a plastic bag over my head forgetting to put holes in, (I apologise in advance to those members of the RM’s who had this experience on some of the RTI course run throughout the 1990’s).

Suffice to say the dull thud in my head and restricted oxygen intake was something to do with now being at 3650mtrs. We were now completely shrouded in mist with visibility reduced to such an extent that even on the flats I couldn’t see the following pack. At around 5.5km (3800mtrs) I was caught by a French chap and his compardre, they ran in a pair to aid the finding of the false trails that are planted around the X’s (doh!). My inexperience had cost me dear as I was now struggling to find a comfortable pace. I clung to these two and together we soon picked up the trails and headed for home. A wiry 65 year old ex pat caught us on the homeward track as he proved the tortoise rule!  The race in from there was less up and down but the rain had started on vertical trajectory just to add to English feel of the event. The final Km was achieved at the standard IronMan shuffle speed due to having to take three breaths to gain the equivalent oxygen normally achieved with one.

First finishers! L-R... French Guy , African Guy, Wiry
American Guy, Short English Guy, French Guy 2,
Guy the Guy!
By the time we reached the cars (1hr 22mins) for 10km we were wet, cold but in good spirits. This was made all the more so by a large trekking group who had turned up looking ready to ascend Everest who looked at us in our shorts as though we were aliens…LOL. Unfortunately they had the last laugh as nobody had any car keys as they were with the main group over an hour behind us; cold suddenly took over from joy as I lost feeling in my fingers.

Suffice to say I'm typing this with feeling and function restored. Having gathered the rest of the group and defrosted in the cars, we headed down to an altitude the sun was happier to come out and play in.The whole event was a great experience and I met some more amazing people with great stories to tell. Oh yes and the Wiry American? He had lived here for quite sometime having being a bit of a track and field guy in the states he now organises Hash's, runs the Kili Marathon and was a sub three hour GUY in his time...a tortoise with redbull wings!

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