Thursday, November 01, 2007

Knock, knock, knock…Halloween!

Costa Rica has an abundance of far-out freaky legends to scare the pants off little Ticos. Next to these haunting tales passed down through the ages, our gringo-imported Halloween is just a fabulous candy-fest and the perfect excuse to dress up, now enjoyed here in Costa Rica by families in expat-heavy communities.

Our kids were thrilled to continue their lifelong Halloween tradition—it’s the allure of the sugar, of course.

Last Friday we went to Halloween Family Night at school (remember, it’s an American school), to enjoy trick-or-treating, games, and pizza. For many of the CDS kids, this was their first experience with Halloween. This was the case for our neighbors from Argentina, whose children were tickled to don costumes and get sacks of candy just for being cute.

The middle school kids decorated all the classroom doors, and the elementary students—under the guise of witches, princesses, cowboys, and skeletons—wandered the darkened school grounds to collect their goodies. The older kids were very creative with their door decorating and their own costumes, and we saw some teachers dressed up too. Everyone’s favorite principal, Mr. Large, even made an appearance as Shrek.

Once our girls secured their loot, we decided not to wait in the big line for pizza and instead went to our favorite pizza place, La Fabbrica. It was a gorgeous night and we sat in the open-air restaurant and noshed on great food, saw a few other familiar faces from school, and had some good family time together. I’m sure the wait staff wondered why Dan and I showed up for dinner at their restaurant with a world-class surgeon in scrubs and a rambunctious little puppy with floppy brown ears.

Fast forward to Wednesday, a rainy Halloween night! A Tica in our neighborhood passed out flyers to see who wanted to participate in Halloween, and of course we accepted. We hung black and orange balloons outside the house to let everyone know we were open for business. Then while Dan handed out candy, I took the girls from door to door.

After our first house, we met up with another family. As our children approached the next door together, mine called out “trick-or-treat!” while the others shouted out “Halloween!” Whaaaa? What was this? I looked at the other mom and she explained that nobody understands what “trick-or-treat” means, so the little Tico kids just call out “Halloween!”

I had to hold back the laughter, it was so funny. The more I heard these kids yelling “Halloween!” at the doors, the more amused I was. I also had to suppress giggles when one mom commented on what a shame it was to be so cold on Halloween (the temp was about 65 degrees). I told her I’ve seen snow on Halloween, and she was in disbelief. I’m learning that a lot of people I meet here really have no concept of snow and how cold “cold” truly is. But hey, if 65 degrees is cold on Halloween, my family can brave the weather.

We didn’t have as many houses to visit as usual—and the girls didn’t do their “speed trick-or-treating” in a big subdivision with Dan this year, as is tradition—but the kids were very happy with their haul. To their delight, Costa Ricans are more than generous with the amount and type of candy they hand out.

After the trick-or-treating we met up with several other families in our community clubhouse for pizza (yes, more pizza—people love pizza here, I’m telling you). The kids ran around and played games and ate too much candy and too much pizza, while Dan and I had a chance to talk with our neighbors and get a late supper. We were the only Americans there, I might add—kind of funny considering it was a Halloween celebration—but we had a chance to practice our Spanish (always a challenge when I’m talking to the Argentineans!) and find out what’s going on in the neighborhood.

The girls were excited to call Grandma and Grandpa when we got home and tell them about their night. My poor little Lauren puppy’s eyes were drooping as I prompted her to say goodnight and hand me the phone.

On a final note, there was serious bartering going on in our kitchen last night, as Dan was trading gum suckers with the kids for candy he wanted from their stash. Let me tell you, the three of them are some tough customers, and all of Dan’s Halloween candy was hard-earned through real negotiations. I think if it were acceptable for a 6’3” kid to travel from house to house in costume, Dan would do it solely for the chocolate and Skittles.

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