This is our 5th Halloween outside of the USA. Halloween is really the hardest holiday to be gone. It’s so …. American … that it’s hard to duplicate. Zoe in particular loves Halloween. I knew she would be a Halloween fan the first time I took her out trick or treating. She was 18 months old and I took her out in her monkey costume with the big kids. I thought she’d last about 3 houses and then we’d go back home. She lasted all. night. long.
Fast forward to 2014 and we left the USA three weeks before Halloween. Here’s what we’ve done:
Halloween #1: Boquete, Panama. We knew only one other family and we went with them to a party put on by the expats in town, even though we didn’t know any of them. We talked to no one, had no fun and we came home and both girls (and perhaps a mommy) cried. I remember trying to comfort Zoe, while trying not to get too close because she had lice at the time. Fun times!
Halloween #2: Pedasi, Panama. Nothing was going on in the town so we threw our own party for the expat families. We trick or treated upstairs in our house, along the row of bedrooms and bathrooms. Adults hid in the rooms and passed out candy. Daniel donned a Spiderman costume and went out in the town but was shoo’d away from the former President’s house due to security because they didn’t trust someone being fully covered. Fun times!
Halloween #3: Malaga, Spain. We had just arrived in Spain but thanks to a super organized Worldschooler, we had a party to go to. No trick or treating but at least Zoe got to dress up. It was an okay Halloween. I don’t think anybody cried.
Halloween #4: Chiang Mai, Thailand. This was the sad one. We knew NO ONE and had no party to go to nor costume to dress up in. Zoe was taking a poetry class at the time and was tasked with writing a poem that she would put to music. She wrote this song, to be sung to the tune of “I Want Candy”. It will forever be known as “Sad Halloween”.
I know a thing that isn’t fun
Only in USA it’s done
Thailand doesn’t celebrate it
I’m not happy one bit
Due to my mommy guilt from Sad Halloween, we promised Zoe that in 2018 she could go to the USA and spend Halloween with her friends. A few months ago we revisited the idea and said it was still an option. However, she had to check with her Colombian friends first, to see if there was anything fun going on here.
I sweetened the pot and said that if she chose to stay in Colombia, I would throw a Halloween party for her and a few friends. She checked it out and indeed Halloween is a big deal in Medellin! So the party was ON. Once the Cate kids joined the school, we decided to make it a joint party for all the kids in grades 5 and 6; all of the classmates of Zoe, Cameron and Coco. Jamie put on her almost-retired hat of Pinterest Party Planner and I picked my jaw up off the floor once I saw all the ideas she had. This was going to be a party like none other.
First we secured a DJ (without music in Colombia the party would last about 8 minutes), then a hot dog lady, and then we bought out all the stores during our recent Miami trip for the decorations. We sweetened up the guards with Krispy Kreme in hopes they would not be sticklers for rules on party day (we were definitely going to exceed the limit for the party room in our building) and we prayed for no rain. The rain part was our biggest worry. We really didn’t have enough space in the party room, although we had a big uncovered common area that would be great to spread out in. BUT it is rainy season here and it rains just about every day this time of year. No amount of Krispy Kreme was going to help us in the rain department.
Party day arrived and so did the hot dog lady, the DJ (late, but at least he got there) and then the kids. So. Many. Kids. You know what didn’t arrive? The rain. We had NO RAIN the entire day and night. Nothing else mattered, the fact that we had no rain was incredible.
I’ll let the pictures – and captions – speak for themselves. Suffice to say, it was off the proverbial chain.
The party was the weekend before Halloween, but we still had one more night to go: the actual night of Halloween. Turns out Colombians love dressing up AND trick or treating!!! They do trick or treating in a lot of residential buildings, but most of the action happens at the malls. Our building put up a notice that trick or treating would be happening so we were all ready with candy. Zoe, Cameron and Coco headed up and down the elevator before we left for the mall. They had about a 50% success rate with people home and/or prepared. We discovered later that kids who trick or treat in residential buildings usually travel in a pack. Dan stayed home from the mall to answer the door. He got only one knock but it was a group of about 30 kids – pretty much every kid in the building at one time. We missed that memo.
The kids and I met up with another expat family and headed to the mall. Along with about 1 billion other Colombians. Ay caramba! This is where it’s at, people! Except we didn’t get the memo that this was BYOC – Bring Your Own Candy. Some of the stores passed out candy but a lot of random moms – and kids – were just walking around with bags and giving it out when they saw costumes they liked. It really became more of a candy exchange – you would give from your own bag if you saw someone you thought was worthy. Haley’s hot dog costume was a huge hit and she was frequently stopped for photos.
And so, that’s a wrap on Halloween 2018. A party, costumes, sweets and trick or treating. We did it all and it was a blast. No Sad Halloween song this year, Zoe!