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That afternoon Whit made 16 treat bags for the kids in our building while I made lasagna for an early dinner. Fernando, our favorite building security guard, had warned us the day before that he’d call our apartment around 7:00 when the kids were ready to go door-to-door as a group. Whit shoveled down dinner well before 7:00, got dressed, and waited rather impatiently for the call (which came promptly at 7:00. Thanks, Fernando!)
Ben and Whit met the rest of the kids and a few parents at the lobby while I waited in the apartment. The group of trick-or-treaters started took the 2 elevators to the top of the building and knocked on the two apartments on each floor before taking the stairs to the floor below. Ben texted around floor 14 that I should meet them up there, but I insisted that I stay put at our floor- halfway- and that we stick together after that. He replied back, “Ok, but say iMas duro! when they get to the door.”
I didn’t understand what that meant until they got to the floors directly above me. What started out as a faint chant grew louder, as I began to make out a group of young voices repeating the same Halloween chant. Were they going to chant at me? And I was supposed to get them to sing louder?
Finally it was my turn. I heard the loud chanting at the same time The Flash rang our doorbell, and suddenly 10 Colombia children and a few very well-costumed adults were demanding I give them the candy the wanted or my nose would grow.
It was such an overwhelmingly impressive sight! I couldn’t help but laugh my astonishment and pleasure, and join Ben and Whit for the remaining 7 floors while randomly uttering my disbelief every time they “sang”.
What I loved was the fun and community of this practice. The fact that adults were as into this holiday as the children were. That they were going around together. That they only go door-to-door in their own building, where they know and love each other. I loved the song and enthusiasm with which they asked for candy. They weren’t punk teenagers in a tuxedo T-shirt ringing our bell every 2 minutes expecting a handful of candy in their grocery bag. No, these kids were working for their booty.
And seeing Whit join in the Spanish chant and run from floor to floor with the other superheroes and princesses? Absolutely priceless.
We’d been told that the real thing to do in Medellin is head to the shopping centers on Halloween. Apparently that’s where people dress up and hand out candy, which was hard for us to picture. Even though Whit didn’t finish the 25 apartments in our building until after 8:00 pm, there was no way we weren’t going to check out the mall scene.
We were the only family from our building to head out, and I’m so glad we did. We practiced the Spanish Halloween chant during our 10-minute walk to the biggest of the 4 (yes, four) malls within walking distance to us. As we approached we saw more and more costumed kids, families, and pets on the street. I love that this holiday is not just for kids! We passed a couple dressed to the 9’s with a huge dog dressed as Harry Potter as we entered the mall, in fact! They smiled and turned their dog toward us as they heard me exclaim, and I love that we both got pleasure out of the incident.
Once inside the mall we understood what people had been trying to tell us. It was covered with kids of all ages in costumes handing out and receiving candy. Not from the shop owners, as we expected, from each other. Once we got over the incredible cuteness of seeing escalators and walkways filled with tiny uniorns and spiderpeople Whit got right down to business: handing out candy.
We made the mistake of buying a massive bag of absolutely terrible candy this year, and we were determined not to keep any of it in our house. Ben held the bag while Whit grabbed huge handfulls to pass out to random kids we walked around. They were all delighted that this white boy was dressed up and handing out candy, and their parents were equally fun and gracious. A lot gave him candy in exchange and a few gave him hugs. It was heart-stoppingly adorable.
My favorite moment was when we passed another skeleton walking in the opposite direction. He noticed Whit first, made a motion of recognition, and then started a Minecraft dance, indicating that Whit should join him. Whit doesn’t know those dances and was too shy to try, but the scene was so cute. I could just imagine what this kid was thinking: “Hey! You and me are the same! We don’t speak the same language, so let’s just dance together.”
My second favorite moment was happening upon a group of Snow Whites waiting in line for pictures at one of the photo stations. Yes, a group of Snow Whites. Two moms dressed as Snow White with a total of 4 little girls in Snow White costumes and candy bags. Oh. Em. Gee. They were to die for. I had the pleasure of taking pictures for the two families (whom I assumed came together…?) and just fawned over their cuteness.
We got home around 9:30, handed Fernando our leftover candy (I told you it wasn’t coming back in our house) threw Whit in a shower, and called it a night.
Wouldn’t you know he woke up at 6:00 on the dot the next morning.