Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Days Leading Up to Halloween

Halloween is my favourite holiday. Yes, even more than Christmas. I mean, what's not to like? You get to dress up, walk around in the dark, and get free candy! Perfection.

This is the first of two posts about our first Halloween here in Panajachel, Guatemala. It was an awesome time! I wish I had even more pictures to show you all!  There were so many happy moments.

Halloween is gaining popularity here in Guatemala. It's great to see people getting excited about this fun holiday. There were several parties around town and some grade schools had theme days too. However, there is still some sentiment that Halloween is a pagan or satanic holiday. It's not surprising since there are still incidences here in Guatemala of women getting burned for being witches. But it seems the country is heading towards a society of more acceptance of foreign customs.

Many expats use the Facebook groups to advertise events, but there are always a few rotten apples on there too. The other day a man asked where he could find Halloween celebrations for his children in Guate City. A person responded in a snarky tone to the effect of, "Why don't you do Guatemalan celebrations?" The man replied quite rationally: "If a Guatemalan moved to the States and wanted to celebrate Dia de los Muertos and was looking for ingredients for fiambre, you wouldn't tell them to give it up and be American, would you?" Good point!

My immediate comparison is the massive Chinese festivities during Chinese New Year in Canada. I don't expect the Chinese people living in Canada to give up their fun! In fact, I love joining in. I say, more holidays for everyone! I am happy to be able to celebrate Halloween here in Guatemala, and also to be able to celebrate Dia de los Muertos on November 1st.

Anyway, I started planning for H-ween a few weeks ago. You've already seen my post about going to Antigua to get supplies. I talked to a friend later who had Halloween decorations, store-bought ones, and she said she got them in Antigua in the Bodegona. Ah, I was so close! Oh well.

Apparently there are real pumpkins (calabazas) grown in Guatemala at certain times of the year, but just not at THIS time. So instead the vendors were selling ayotes, which is a squash that looks remarkably similar. However, we heard from friends that they are incredibly difficult to carve. I did see one carved but it looked like the flesh was very, very thick. We wanted to attempt it but actually ran out of time and ended up painting them. We did save one to try to cook it later though!
Ayotes, Q10 each at the market. If only they were orange....
Looks like a pumpkin, doesn't it? 
Hey, remember that I couldn't find glow sticks in Antigua? Well, I actually found 30 of them here in Pana at a little store near the market. I was so excited, I got Bert to take my picture! (Update: On Halloween night we discovered that NOT A SINGLE ONE worked! Foiled again.)
Glow sticks!!
Bert and I spent many, many days creating decorations for a party on Halloween night at our local hangout, Gringos Locos. Our kitchen table -- which, remember, is outside on our porch -- has been covered with paints, papers, rags, spiders, and other strange items for a week!
We found plastic spiders but they weren't black. So... paint! :)
Willow "helping" me make my costume.
Origami bat!
Painting a baby head. Not a real baby. It's dark out too, cuz it gets dark at 6:30 pm here every night. Makes for fun arts and crafts! :)
Bert painting a doll head. He said, "I've discovered I'm an artist!"

I left a bottle of black paint open on the table and it got knocked off onto Pachi's butt! HA!

The finished baby heads, plus one silly kitty sitting on some gauze the never got made into ghosts.
Bert putting his intestines on the line to dry.  
Bert spent two days on this fella. Mid-progress picture.
(You can also see the disarray of our kitchen table to the left of the picture!)

Final product! 
Close-up! He put coffee grounds on the neck to make it gruesome. He also added the vertebrae on the neck, and arteries and veins out of the neck and right arm. He studied anatomy!  So cool.  :)
On Friday morning, I got dressed up in my Queen of Hearts costume and went to LIFE School here in Panajachel and participated in the festivities! It was such a blast. My face hurt from smiling.  :)
Kids having a Wii dance-off at LIFE School
I got to be a face-painter. The kids were nervous to do it at first, but soon we had tons of kids waiting for paint. No one had remembered to bring a mirror, so we ended up taking photos of the kids' faces and showing it to them. They grinned so hard when they saw their pictures! I've only posted a few of the many I did that morning.
My face-painting partner, doing the makeup of a lovely purple genie. She won a prize later!
So adorable! This little girl was so shy, her sister had to hold her chin up for me to paint her face. 
Zombie boy!
Butterflies were super popular
This little sweetie was one of the few girls who didn't want a butterfly. She wanted a flower crown. 
Spiderman! Turned out pretty well considering the crayons we had to work with. He was thrilled!
The crowd getting ready for the costume contest. The LIFE school is so beautiful. It's like having school in a park!
I got to be a costume judge. It was so hard to choose! That little blue dinosaur won a prize.
More winners!
More winners!
The older kids had turned their classroom into a haunted house. I didn't go in... I was too scared to! ;)
Lunch was a HUGE selection of food brought by parents and sold very cheaply. Proceeds went to the school.
The dessert table. Yum!
The very unassuming entrance to LIFE School in Panajachel
After this, I walked home all the way across town in my costume. I got a lot of looks! Some guys working at the river literally stopped to lean on their shovels to watch me go by. An elderly man tipped his hat and said, "Mi reina." (My queen.) I was totally embarrassed but flattered too. :)

After this, Bert and I worked very hard the rest of Friday and all day Saturday preparing for the party at Gringos Locos. That post is going up tomorrow!

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