30 October 2013

Trick-or-Treating in the Rainforest

Tomorrow night, we will cover our children in paint and trek through the rainforest looking for candy.

That's how we do Halloween around here.

The day starts with the annual parade in the elementary school.  Last year, Adam unleashed his fro and stole the show from the kids.  Jerk.

The subsequent dusk walk through the forest paths makes for the most perfect Trick-or-Treating I've ever experienced.

The trees on the dirt paths lean in close.  Someone inevitably stumbles on a tangle of vines and yells, "It's a snake! The chauve-souris (an exceptionally elegant translation of "bat", no?) dip and swoop in the sky. And the sweat pours off of small children dragging generous bags of treats on the steamy 2.5 kilometer loop, smearing their makeup.  Not to mention their parents - who inevitably end up carrying one or more little ghouls through the Kinshasa October heat.

The best part?  We know everyone.  Here, we eagerly dig into bags of Dean's homemade cookies without fear of urban legend poisons.  We are invited in for cups of cider at Autumn and Jasen's (and Neil provides cloudy, licorice-y Pastis for the adults) and drink without suspicion.  The apples may contain imported chemicals, but no razors.  Every house we go to is that of a friend, a neighbor, a colleague.  This close community where we live, work and play with the same people day in and day out has it's pitfalls.  Halloween, however, is among the most positive benefits.

This all sounds absurdly idyllic.

Despite the dreaminess of Halloween on our campus, I am struggling to create a Spaceman Spiff costume without easy access to Target for the correct color of t-shirt.  Elias is extremely particular these days.  All of my powers of persuasion will be necessary to convince him that the lightning bolt on his top should absolutely be made from yellow pagne fabric.

Tonight's craft project.  Johan is the flashlight + wire Death Ray Blaster Master.

That's what Spaceman Spiff would do if he was in Congo.

Loulou's alien princess dress (she was not about to be the Hideous Blob that her brother insisted was necessary) was purchased from Esther in Accra two weeks ago and is made of pink batik.  It does, however, have the requisite floor-length twirly skirt.  Her petticoats will be a pile of skirts made by G-ma over last summer's Stateside break.

As for the alien antennae...we'll have to make our own.

Mama Vida might help out with the preparations, though she may not have recovered from Elias' first Halloween-in-Kinshasa costume.  He was a Pagne Knight of the Anopheles Mosquito (you know, the kind that gives you malaria.  That's scary, right?)  She was fairly incredulous that we would excitedly decorate our five-year-old with a deadly pest.  Maybe it was a little overly-enthusiastic.

Two years later, the kids are older - and perhaps wiser than their occasionally ridiculous parents - and the costumes will be less contrived, though still peppered with Congo.  The elementary school will march proudly and, later, we will walk softly through the creepy rainforest, taking care not to disturb the snakes.

Oh yeah.  The Jack O'Lanterns?  They are crafted from watermelons


  1. spaceman spiff- great idea. I read those comics throughout my childhood. Calvin and Hobbes never get old, do they?

  2. oh my goodness. how awesome is this! your kiddos look adorable in their costumes...even if it isn't the right color, spot on with everything else ; ) sounds like quite the experience in the rainforest!

  3. Oh my gosh, I love the watermelon "pumpkin"! So creative! Halloween isn't celebrated much here in South Africa, but tomorrow night (Halloween on a work night doesn't go over well here) my area is doing a trick-or-treating event, but kids can only stop at houses with decorations out...so they know they are welcome. Definitely miss a good ol'American Halloween right now!


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