Mauritius Hash Trash 619
15-04-2012 Le Morne Kay and Marie (& Tim?) Marinette #619
VENUE: Le Morne
HARES: Marie, Tim, Kay, Marinette
HASH 619 – A TREK IN THE MOUNTAINS
“Mauritius was made first & then Heaven; and that Heaven was copied after Mauritius” thus wrote a certain Mark Twain in 1897 when he visited Mauritius on his sojourn across Asiatic region that spawned his epic chronicle “Travelling The Equator”. And it would have come as no surprise if the celebrated author was standing at the summit of this imposing eponymous basaltic rock over 500 metres above sea level when he considered this famous quotation.
The On On was situated at the base of the Le Morne & the participants felt the effects of this region as being the most windward part of the island with a bracing breeze greeting all & sundry on arrival. Mrs Cartwright was becoming anxious at the absence of her special man and, to a lesser extent, at the absence of her husband whom she feared was lost in the mountains without phone, flour, timepiece & flares (that would be the incendiary devices & not the retro fashion item).
The guest hares came in the form of a quixotic eight-legged quadruped consisting of the aforementioned Cartwrights, The Divine Mrs Farrow & our recruiting Officer, Marinette & as we avidly absorbed the details of the topography of the trail, we feared the worst when the debonaire Mr. Cartwright mentioned that the flour had been melted away by the overnight rain conjuring vivid disarming images of wayward Hashers being lost in the wilderness looking for safe passage home. And as we gazed in mesmeric splendour at the majesty of the menacing rock hanging perilously above we were under no misapprehension that the trail would be heading anywhere other than “UP”.
The start had the excited throng clambering through thick undergrowth that led to the commemorative plaque of the runaway slaves who used Le Morne as a hideaway & who martyred themselves in the 19th century. Folklore has it that, after the abolishment of slavery, a police expedition travelled to the rock on the 1st February 1835 to inform the slaves that they were now free people. However, the slaves misunderstood the expedition and decided to jump to their death and since then every year 1st February is celebrated as Abolition of Slavery day.
That excitement was merely a fleeting euphoria as the rabble were compelled to retrace their steps back down the hill to join the path that wound its interminable way up the side of the mountain, the trails splitting into runner s and walkers soon after.
And the pack slowly climbed the fearsome slopes that, at times, reduced even the most svelte runner to a most weary walk hands on thighs to make the climb less unbearable.
And in a most co-incidental piece of unrehearsed choreography, the runners and walkers met at the summit at exactly the same time for a brief respite before setting off back to the On On down the long serpentine path. The viewpoints were spectacular, the most arresting being a simultaneous view of the stunning panorama to Tamarin & that heading towards Baie Du Cap. At this point, our archaeologist/Dodo-ologist Sir Alan Grihault pointed out the nearby Ile Au Forno, the last place that the Dodo was observed by shipwrecked (and probably ravenous) Dutch sailors – anyone for barbecued biped?
We also hash halted at a wooden ladder which clung perilously to a tree & which Dodocop scaled with the envious agility of a euphoric spider monkey.
Meanwhile back at the ever revolving circle, the wind was swirling like a million graceful flamenco dancers spiralling in perfect symmetry. Leslie made a plea for all those wishing to make themselves heard to raise their voices to a sufficient decibel reading that would counteract the aural disfiguration brought about by the wind. The Scribe, in an unguarded moment of sub-first grade humour, asked Leslie to repeat himself as he could not hear him for the wind (ha bloody ha).
The brave squad of first timers that made their way to the remoteness of Le Morne were as follows –
1)Blackie – hailing from the South Africa & who had been in Mauritius for but was due to be staying for 3 years.
2)Case- a Valentine’s Day baby, his birth being termed as the St. Valentine massacre. Invited by work colleague the R.A. he is a new addition to the Lloyd Jones team here in Mauritius.
3)Bernard – a friend of Michele all the way from the banks of the Seine, he is only here for fleeting visits & will not be bringing along his presence to the next Hash.
4)Stephania – hailing from the coastal resort of Flic en Flac.
5)Pierre & Baby Lea – A tad handsome Belgian national with a Polish spouse, he is working with the MCB & was invited by work colleague Veronique Adam-Boulle
6)Mae – born in Mauritius but grew up in the UK, she has retired to Mauritius & is somehow acquainted with Rey
7)Jasmine – a friend of the above & is making her maiden visit to Mauritius. She was also wearing a striking floral dress & matching scarlet hat as if she had just attended Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot.
A sextet of second timers gladly received their reward for being foolish enough to make it past their virgin Hash. The line up consisted of Hannalie, Claire, Louise, Owen, Elliot & Ellie. I can now reveal that the latter is from Southern Ireland although The Scribe was admonished for not being able to identify her tongue in the last Trash. She did bring along her trusted bag that was the subject of intense ridicule last time although she did have the presence of mind not to take it for a walk up the mountain. Young Elliot also made a shocking revelation that his grumpy Grandad Alan only wears pants in bed although it is unclear what Elliot could possibly be doing in his Grandad’s bedroom while he is adorned in his nightclothes. It is also unclear whether Alan was wearing his or his wife’s underwear at the time (Insert your own pink Dodo joke here). The Grump was dragged into the circle & was guilty of a serious bout of over-acting as he cast aluminous glances at his grandchildren – well no less a luminary than Shakespeare’s did say that all the world’s a stage….Yes, maybe but why is it that we have to suffer.
Normal theological service was resumed this week with the erudite R.A narrating the story of two unknown Hashers who had been admitted to the lunatics’ sanctuary of Brown Sequard hospital in Beau Bassin on account of their advanced strain of mental paraplegia. One day, they were casually walking along the pool when, in a rash display of gunboat bravado, Rey climbed to the top of the diving platform & promptly did a triple somersault into the deep end of pool (no doubt just trying to impress his partner) . He sank to the bottom of the pool & stayed there motionless like an inert stone fish. Marie Andre, a fiercely nimble exponent of aquatic activities herself, threw caution to the wind, swallow dived into the pool & wriggled to the bottom to where her stricken partner lay in a comatose state of disrepair. With deftness of touch, she quickly unbuckled his straitjacket, dragged him out & revived him with textbook mouth to mouth resuscitation technique. She then promptly balanced him on her shoulder using another textbook manoeuvre, the fireman’s lift, and carried the now semi-conscious invalid to the relative sanctuary of his private cell. When the Nursing Director learned of Marie Andre’s selfless heroic act, she immediately ordered her to be discharged as this Samaritan deed was proof enough of her mental stability. When she went to tell Marie Andre of her release, the Nursing Director said “I have some good news & some bad news. The good news is that you are being discharged since you were able to respond rationally to a crisis in your act of saving the life of a fellow patient, I have concluded that your actions clearly display that you are of sound mind. However, the bad news is that the patient you saved hung himself in the bathroom with his bathrobe cord just after you carried him to his room. Marie Andre replied instantly “Oh, No, No, No he didn’t hang himself, I put him up there to dry out……..so when can I go home?
The R.A. then administered meted out metaphorical flagellation to the following villians & villainesses –
1)Lord Russell – for his abominable attempt in impersonating rally legend Colin McRae at the last Hash when his now-hospitalized SUV collided with perimeter fencing. Frankly, The Scribe thinks that he is getting too much coverage in these pages & is in danger of becoming overexposed.
2)Jasmine, Millie & Mae – the former for her scarlet hat & the others for some other sartorial infringement, I believe.
3)Pierre – the nappy changing Daddy Nanny who skillfully changed Baby Lea’s diaper somewhere at altitude. Captain Nemo was heard to utter that this is the first time in Hash history that we had a shit stop.
4)Gaetan – 4 years he has been the Ice Maiden (this feat will be frozen in immortal Hash history) & he has been angling to transfer this task for the best part of 18 months with no-one disconnected enough to be a willing volunteer. Lord Russell did infer that in Government circles the job becomes confirmed after 4 years. However, this important duty is being made extinct as it has now been decided to invest in the more portable cool bags.
The venerable Ryan Leeds bounced into the circle with a spring in his step after his team Liverpool clinched a place in the F.A. Cup final at the expense of their Merseyside rivals. I suspect that this spring lost some of its lustre following another embarrassing home League defeat at the hands of West Bromwich Albion managed by ex-Liverpool manager, Roy Hodgson.
The cowbell was initially given to Jacqueline who flatly refused the accolade as she claimed that she has already received it 3 times (showing how popular she must be). Any country winning the World Cup on three occasions is allowed to keep trophy so perhaps we should adopt this rule for the cowbell. Eventually it was Natalie’s turn to be the hostage.
THE LAST WORD
In which The Scribe asks a Hash member a series of questions that attempts to uncover a sequence of useless personal facts. The Scribe has been frantically trying to convince a number of Hashers to contribute to your least favourite e-zine by answering a dectet of asinine questions (yes I am referring to you Mark, Rey, Marie Andre & Captain Nimmo) but it would seem that a minority element of this unhelpful quartet are unwilling to answer some of these asinine questions in case the answers are used in some conspiratorial vendetta to discredit their dignity – does this tight lipped reticence mean that we could soon be seeing a Hasher run for Presidential Office to replace the abdicating SAJ. So, with thoughts of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn providing vivid graphical images of a Mississippi riverboats swamping the eponymous hero’s raft, The Scribe decided to wipe down his Ouija Board & contact the eminent wit, satirist & anti-Imperialist Mark Twain to determine his thoughts on Mauritius long before the island celebrated independence under the paternal hand of Cha Cha Ramgoolam & long before it became championed as “L’Ile Durable”. So, Ladies & Gentlemen, put your fingers lightly on the magic vessel of truth & let the mystical transcendental forces take us on a voyage of discovery into the unclaimed vortex of the afterlife to listen to the coveted wisdom of Mr. Mark Twain.
1) So, Mark let me take this opportunity of unreservedly thanking you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to communicate with our readers. And the obvious opening question is your indelible link to that famous quotation on Mauritius? Does that give you a sense of pride that over 100 years on your words are still being used as a prominent defining phrase of Mauritius & as a pivotal marketing device to promote tourism on the island?
Well, first of all it is a pleasure to be here in the 21st Century & to have an opportunity to be interviewed by your revered e-zine. Well, to your question, I think that it is important to clear up lingering misconceptions about that quotation which you yourself have attributed to me in the opening sentence of this week’s article. In fact, it is true that this quotation appeared in my chronicle “Travelling The Equator” but it is quite untrue that this quotation represented my view on Mauritius. This view was expressed by a local citizen who I met in Port Louis & who may have been slightly afflicted by a slight rum frenzy; as a contrast, this statement was pretty much refuted by another Port Louis local (most probable unafflicted by alcoholic sustenance) who claimed that this view was an exaggeration & that the two chief villages, Port Louis & Curepipe, fall short on heavenly perfection. This gentlemen even said that nobody lives in Port Louis except on compulsion & that Curepipe was the wettest & rainiest place in the world (obviously he had never been to the East Coast of Scotland)
2) What were your first impressions on landing in Mauritius?
Well I remember the ship anchored off Port Louis at 2 a.m. so it was completely dark. I went ashore at about 8.30 a.m. & was immediately intrigued by the large variety of nationalities & complexions that was evident in the town centre, the most varied that I had encountered during my trip. There were French, English, Chinese, Arabs, Africans, East Indians, Mixed Race and Quadroons.
3) Quadroons? I have never heard of that expression before? What are they?
The term quadroon is historically used to designate a person of one-quarter African/Aboriginal ancestry, that is one bi-racial parent (African/Aboriginal and Caucasian) and one Caucasian parent; in other words, one African/Aboriginal grandparent and three Caucasian grandparents. The word Quadroon was borrowed from the Spanish “cuarteron” which is itself descended from the Latin word “Quartus” meaning fourth.
4) What were your impressions of the Mauritian people?
One of the most remarkable features was that they were proud to be Mauritian, again a sentiment that was not evident in the other countries I had visited. Most of them had never been out of the island, had not read or studied much and they firmly believed that the world consists of three countries Judaea, France and Mauritius so they were immensely proud of being one of the three Grand Divisions of the globe. They thought that Russia and Germany were in England & that England did not amount to anything. They also thought that Pieter Both was the highest mountain in the World.
5) What about the language? Did you have any difficulties as it was under French rule during your visit?
The language of the country was French back then & everybody had to speak it and you also had to know the patois spoken by the mass population or you could not get along. It was tough to communicate at time but I did manage to learn this naughty Creole joke though –
Kan ene banne ti zeness francais fer l’amour tifi la crier ‘O mon Dieu!’ ‘O mon Dieu’
Kan banne ti zeness Anglish fer l’amour,tifi pou crier ‘ Oh My God! Oh my God!’
Kan banne tizeness Morisiens fini fer l’amour, tifi la pu dire ‘pas laisse mo papa conner’
6) And what about your impressions of the economy?
Well the economy was dependent on sugar of course and it was generally known that Mauritius made the best sugar in the world. There were around 120 factories in the 1890’s although the outlook for their longevity then was not favourable as some of the noblest estates were in difficulties. The problem was that it took a year to mature the cane (longer on the high ground) and there was always the threat that the annual cyclone would rip the profit out of the crop. And there was increasing competition from other countries.
7) Did you encounter any cyclonic conditions whilst you were there?
It was just off season when I arrived there in mid April. However, according to the local people, the cyclone of 1892 was particularly severe. It killed & crippled hundreds of people and an overwhelming deluge of rain drowned Port Louis. The flood burst the reservoir and water pipes & for a time after the flood disappeared there was much distress from want of water. The cyclone also tore down 2 prominent buildings in Port Louis (the city’s main architectural feature) and everywhere in its track it annihilated houses, tore off roofs, destroyed trees and decimated crops. Whole streets in Port Louis were laid flat and allegedly the wind blew at 123 miles an hour maybe stronger; it cut down an obelisk & an American ship was carried into the woods after both anchor chains snapped. The devastation lasted for about an hour and when the sunshine appeared many ventured out of safe shelter. And then suddenly the cyclone whipped up again when all perdition broke loose, and savaged the country yet again with people rushing around seeking friends & rescuing the wounded. It is said that the Chinese fed the sufferers for weeks on free rice.
8) What about the food in Mauritius?
I really enjoyed the camaron, a fresh water creature like a cray fish & it was regarded as one of the world’s main delicacy. Guards used to patrol the streams to prevent poaching for which a fine of 200 or 300 rupees was imposed. Another excellent delicacy was the palmiste which looked like raw turnip shavings & bore the taste of green almonds. And then there was another specialty which looked like a tangle of fine seaweed & which was prepared from deadly nightshade- it tasted good enough without necessarily setting the taste buds alight.
9) What were your lasting general impressions of Mauritius?
It was beautiful enough. There were undulating wide expanses of sugar cane – very pleasing to the eye. And everywhere else, there was a ragged luxuriance of tropical vegetation of vivid greens and varying shades; a wild tangle of underbrush with graceful tall palms lifting their crippled plumes high above; and there were stretches of shady dense forest with gentle streams frolicking through them, intermittently glimpsed in a most arresting hide and seek fashion; some picturesque groups of inaccessible mountain peaks broken by strips of sea with white ruffled surf. That was Mauritius; and pretty enough, charming but not imposing, appealing but not enthralling, pleasant but not exhilarating.
10) Well, thanks for a most absorbing interview & most vivid perspective of 19th century Mauritius. I am sure the readers really appreciate you tuning into Planet Earth from across the cosmos.
Well, it was a pleasure to connect with your readers but I shall now have to float back into the Nether Etherscape. If you like I can ask Abraham Lincoln to contact you; he is a fine chess player & has many interesting anecdotes about Post Independence U.S.A. He and John Wilkes Booth are fiercely competitive & get in a lather when it comes to clay pigeon shooting. Oh and by the way, reports of my death are no longer greatly exaggerated.
Th..Th..Th..Th..That’s All Folks!
|The Hash Mish-Management Team|
|Office||The 2011/ 2012 team|
|Supreme Being:||Jean Ramiah|
|Hare Line + Trailmasters:||Ryan Leeds|
|Religious and Sex Advisor:||Steve|
|Ice Maiden:||Gaetan (For the moment)|
|Drinks for Wimps ‘n Kids:||Also Gilbert|