We weren’t too sure what we were going to do about Halloween. The little boys were asking about it pretty frequently, so it wasn’t like we could just ignore it. Like I said, we are in a tiny speck of a village that doesn’t have anything to do with modern American mainstream culture. We were pretty sure that we would have to explain to them that they just don’t do Halloween here.
The other day we were taking our daily walk down the beach when we met man who introduced himself and we got to talking. He is a lawyer and lives in the city nearby and owns a small hotel here on the beach. When he heard that we were American he stated that his children are attending UCSB in California. He asked what our plans were for Halloween and then invited us to his neighborhood in Manta for trick or treating.
I’m not sure that I have properly described this village. I’ve stated that it is small and there is kite surfing, but there is virtually no tourism. There are 2 or 3 small hotels and a couple of hostals all of which are empty right now. The people that come to visit this place are hard core kite surfers. Virtually all of the men of the village are fishemen. There are a couple of small tiendas, but you have to go to Manta to buy just about anything. There are no fruits or vegetables, every couple of days a man drives by house to house with a truck full. There’s not even a bus that comes here, the local transportation is the back of a pick-up truck.
I state all this so you can try to understand our culture shock as we entered this gated American style neighborhood. It was completely bizarre. I felt like we were entering the Twilight Zone. After stating our new friend’s name and showing identification we passed through the security check point. Immediately to the right there was a small shopping center with a coffee shop, an ice cream shop, and a hamburger joint. After walking a block we got to the pool and clubhouse, to the left was the tennis and basketball courts. There are about 2000 houses in the development. I have no idea of property values here, but it was definitely upper-middle class.
There were loads of children in the streets dressed up in all sorts of costumes, there were parties in many houses and at the clubhouse. The houses that were participating were decorated with all the traditional American Halloween decor. The neighborhood even had a contest for the best decorations. The boys were excited, but a little apprehensive. We had no costumes of course, thankfully they had their spiderman and ninja turtle jackets. We got to first house and before they knocked on the door they turned to me and asked, what do we say? I looked at Israel, he looked at me, and we shrugged, Hola?!
We never did figure out what to say, but we made the rounds, got a little lost, and even found our lawyer friend who we thanked profusely. It was a truly interesting experience for us to celebrate Halloween in Ecuador!