Monday, June 22, 2015

Our first Hash Harriers hike

Cuttlefish in a basin in front of the grocer's chicken case
Sunday, June 20, 2015
"Happy Father's Day, Pop." We're far away from my father and our children. I call Dad just before we go into the service but the connection is spotty and we lose touch after a short conversation. 

There's no one like my dad. I am so grateful to have been born into his family. He and Mom made sure we worked together as a family as we learned to love and serve God. I'd come downstairs in the morning to see him reading the Bible. I opted for prayer with Dad if possible: he got right to the point, while Mom took time on details. What a great heritage from both!

I can't believe who drives by: "Hi, Josie!"
The driver takes us to town. We are visiting Ratna at her shop but are hailed by a "Hello!" as we step onto the sidewalk. 

"It's easy to spot you," says our friend Josie, pulling up on her motorcycle. "You stand out along the street." (Blond and white heads among the dark hair.) 

She's on her way from one appointment to the next and can't stop long. Josie's mom is a journalist and photographer who sometimes buys from Ratna's shop. Cool. A hug and quick photo and Josie's on her way.

It's taken us a long time to reconnect with Ratna and we've missed her. Her mom passed away while we were in the States. She gives us a memorial clock with a picture of her mom, which we hang in a guest room. A beautiful lady, hardworking and invested in her family. She was a believer so we know we'll see her again in heaven.

So happy to see each other!
Ratna's pre-schooler Ofel (think Ophelia - her grandma loved opera) comes home mid-visit, chattering about her day. She helps us eat a pastry and drink tea.

When we finish, we make another stop at the hardware store but they've sold out of the items we are looking for. "Kosong." (Zero) Oh well. 

The driver takes his half-hour of prayer while we eat lunch. We sometimes have lunch out to minimize eating in front of our helpers. 

Adorable Ofel
During Ramadan, our Muslim helpers don't eat or drink during daylight. W and I skip the big pre-dawn breakfasts they eat to stock up for the day. We fast the night and breakfast and eat two meals later in the day as our reminder to pray God's blessings and favor on those around us.

In the afternoon, we go for our first Hash Harriers hike. "Do you like hiking?" one of the women asks me. 

I think I do. "I like walking," I tell her.

"This will be a good walk," she smiles. The smile worries me.

One of the ladies has a heart condition that forces her to stop on steep inclines. We've done miles of city walking but without her pauses, it might have been a tougher initiation for us. 

Some harriers run the course. During our walk, runners pass us - either those who started late or those got lost. Occasionally we have to stop at crossroads and ask for directions ourselves. Villagers smile and point to the path taken by those ahead.

Checking that the hare has paper for the trail
First we squelch downward through marshy terraced farming fields. "Oh oh, we're going to have to come back up," I think. But it's only the beginning. Innocents abroad, indeed.

We hike past plant nurseries and little houses along roads and lanes. We traverse up and down mountainsides. I count at least deep 4 valleys. We negotiate creeks and little gorges on bridges made of 4-5 bamboo stalks. One person at a time crosses: the material flexes with our weight. Only one bridge has a guard rail, a single bamboo stem. Yes, I use that railing!

We came from the other hill
Some trails are mud; some village lanes are pavers or broken rock. We clamber up and down uneven stairs made of cement or cut into the hillside. Steep drop-offs line very narrow dirt paths. Our shoes become filthy from splashing into holes in the grass and picking up dust.

A Sunda family is picking watercress from a cement reservoir. Their little daughter showers under a pipe at the side of the pool. The husband wades into the water for us; we exchange a chocolate bar for a big sack of greens.

The sheepdog/retriever mutt who runs alongside has a marvelous time. He dives into the valley streams a few times and then goes crazy with excitement. He rushes past us on the trails, shakes himself off beside us, and brushes our legs with his wet tail. (He confirms our need for a change of clothes.)

W and a new friend coming up the trail
The big loop is almost 5 miles. My pulse climbs to 157 on a hillside. We feel our leg muscles working. But we're not sore. 

The game is this: a human "hare" runs the course before the pack sets off, dropping slips of paper along the way. Sometimes s/he will put down a false trail to slow the fastest chasers, or make a chalk mark in areas where paper could be swept up. (From the website: A typical hash today is a loosely-organized group of 20-40 men and women who meet weekly or biweekly to chase the hare. We follow chalk, flour, or paper, and the trails are never boring . . . we run streets and back alleyways, but we also ford streams, climb fences, explore storm drains, and scale cliffs. And although some of today's health-conscious hashers may shun cold beer in favor of water or diet sodas, trail's end is still a celebration and a party.) Fortunately, beer is not a temptation! Ugh, what a taste. I gulp water, though. Others also eschew the stronger beverages.

We finish at the other side of the house where we started. It's already dusk, so W and I hop into the car to change clothes. The party afterwards, attended by about 40 former and current harriers, is a mix of conversation, food and drinks (from water to Coke to beer). It gets pretty loud as attendees cheer each other's accomplishments. One German lady - who's been in the hash almost 40 years - celebrates 1400 runs! In this group, more than half are local Indonesians and the rest are expats. What a great way to meet people. 

Doing the actions while singing,"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"
We stay for over two hours, eating. Feasting, actually. Members caution us against being spoiled by the amazing food. "Don't expect this every Monday." 

Two women have birthdays so members have brought homemade fried noodles, pork knuckles, noodles in broth, various kinds of rice, and other goodies. The birthday cake is soaked in rum, which we find out after a small piece is on our plates. It tastes like the cakes we grew up with in European households. 

The event is a lot of fun because we love meeting new people. I also get invited to the next walk - ladies only - on Thursday. 

"It's more of a walk and less of a hike," I'm promised. Sounds good.

Read more:
*You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. 2 Samuel 22:37 NIV

*You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound. Psalm 4:7 ESV

*Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. Isaiah 58:8-9 NIV

*Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. Matthew 9:9 ESV

*Paul wrote: I have learned to be content with whatever I have. Philippians 4:11 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Shepherd, you are ever patient with our inaction. Help us to drown out the noise so that we can hear your voice. Hold us in your arms so that we can let go of fears that hold us back. We look forward to following you.

Lord, you make us feel loved and happy! May we praise you always for the miracle that you are in our lives. Help us to share our joy with everyone. Amen.

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