As most of you may know but some maybe not Halloween isn't the fall focus holiday here in Mexico, it is Dia De Los Muertos (DDLM) which is celebrated on Nov 2nd. Its not anything like an American Halloween but people lump them together because they happen around the same time of year and actually maybe have the same in roots but totally hold different tradition. I really don't know. From a distance both holidays share a similarity. Especially in that skeletons are focal point of both holidays. For Halloween they used to scare and join with the ghosts, goblins whipping up a witches brew to scary soundtracks in peoples front entry ways. In Mexico the skeleton in celebratory often dressed up in human clothes, doing everyday things such as playing the piano or eating cookies and usually smiling. When portrayed as such they call them Calaveritas. I love the idea of day of the dead. The Holiday celebrates those who have passed on this day, Nov 2nd, when it is believed that the vail between the living and the dead is the thinnest. Alters are built with the passed loved ones favorite things and many families head out to the grave yards to spend the night partying with the ones they've lost. Betty has informed me that this is a Catholic holiday and not a Mexican holiday, since she's not Catholic so she doesn't celebrate. I'm not Catholic either but I've always pieced together portions of different religions that I admire and make them my own. I like tradition and rituals (though I am so not ritualistic). I am neither Mexican nor Catholic but I shall celebrate anyway.
Halloween is also a great holiday we don't really honor anything. We just dress up, get drunk, make bad decisions and blame it on the fact that we were dressed up and it doesn't matter because it's Halloween. Not that I've done that... my mom reads this. But we do have a rule that is not just mine, "Do not go on a date with anyone you met on Halloween (or met while in costume, does not apply to just Halloween". Since most people subscribe to the mode of operendei above it is generally accepted that one you meet in costume is one to be left alone post celebration. I have broken this rule twice. Twice I have regretted it. But I digress.
Now-a-days Halloween is about the kids well at least for me it is (I'm sure there is still a handful messing about in the previous). I was so excited to actually have a kid that I could do Halloween stuff with. Her first Halloween she was 2 months old. I had a party for new parents who couldn't take their kids trick 'er treating but still wanted to be involved. The next year I have no idea what happened to be honest. So lets skip it. The year after that we came to Cabo on Halloween. We dressed O up like a princess and brought her on the plane, but that was about it. This year. Well This year I had no idea what was going to happen. Do we do Halloween or do we do 'er DDLM. Well I knew I wanted to do DDLM aa set up and alter for Mike that is for sure, even if it's just a picture a candle, a golf ball and a cookie. I know he would love that. I wanted to get him a steak from Ruth Christs but I don't have any money and I don't think he would approve of the frivolity. Plus I'm sure if he wants a steak he's figured out how to get one. This is a thought that counts kind of thing. I've been planning DDLM ever since last year when my cousin Ian called and told us what it is all about. Last year when were here we were clueless. It wasn't until after DDLM that we figured out what the alters were actually for, not just 'neat' they had a purpose. I actually remember last year when we found a pretty grand alter in San Jose with a Calaverita in a chair and an empty chair next to it. My mom sat in the chair and I took a picture. Later on it dawned on us that chair was probably left empty of the one who had passed. Oops another miss step in a list of many. But we're trying, we're learning, we're growing and sometimes we look like assholes while doing it. (It's becoming my personal pass time despite myself).
But this year? What were we going to do about Halloween. I brought her princess dress and princess shoes and crown all to be reused from the Princessa going away party. So who was she going to be was not the question. The question was, where are we going to go? Do they trick 'er treat here? This was our first holiday to tackle all by or lonesome. So when I found out there was going to be a big "Felize de Artistas" on Oct 31 for both Halloween/DDLM (they do that, bilingual/ bi cultural thing), you would think I would be relieved. And at first I think I was, or at least I was too consumed processing that she was going to be off last Friday of each month plus three weeks at Christmas and three weeks at Easter (holy shit that's a lot of time off, anybody wanna come hang out with my baby over the holidays?). Halloween just kind of snuck in there. And then I got a note. A four page note in Spanish (always I don't know why I keep reiterating that fact) with obvious specific instructions and a Calaverita cut out. Oh man, here it comes my first ever SCHOOL FUNCTION. Ok here is the truth, I am absolutely scared to death of parents. Its a phobia, an inexplicable fear. I also have a horrid fear of leeches but I once stepped into a nest of them when I was a kid and got like 25 baby bloodsuckers stuck to my foot, the thought still makes me shiver. That fear is totally valid. But the parent fear? Maybe it's the punk rock girl in me, down with the American machine!!!! Which I'm totally apart of and benefit daily from so whatever. I don't know. But what I do know is that from the moment O appeared on this earth and it became evident to me that I would have to educate her, and since I have no interest in homeschooling her it would most likely be at some sort of SCHOOL, and most likely that school would have FUNCTIONS. School Functions(SF's). The thought just makes my palms sweat. And here we are in Mexico and I've got to go the first one alone, which presents more than just the average American SF challenge. All of my SF instructions come in Spanish. By this time I am sort of getting the hang of how to handle the school note either ask Betty to translate, grab the ole Span/Eng dictionary and have a go, or hand the note over to the lady at the Papelaria (school stuff store) and have her walk me through it. These instructions however were special. They involved a costume. Oh shit. I'm going to have to make a costume aren't I? (I think I predicted this in an earlier blog). Ok we need to get something straight. I don't sew. Nor do I take pleasure in art projects. I am not crafty nor do I aspire to be. I don't want to buy a house and fix 'er up and I don't want to fashion a nifty outfit out of needle and thread. I make sauce, write stories and play in the water. The other stuff is not my jam. So when I see, or it is translated to me that Ophelia is to be a skeleton all dressed in black and "bones" may be sewn or glued to the black wear to make her look like a skeleton, I run right out and buy the first Skeleton costume I see. She is also supposed to have her face painted white and eyes black. Which for some reason I kept confusing white face, black eyes or black face white eyes? Never mind. It was upon purchasing the face paint that Ophelia announced that for Halloween she would like to be Ariel(the mermaid) and I need to buy her red hair and a tail. Oh no. This no good. Skeletons have neither tail nor red hair. They are not even pink which I think I could have spun into acceptability. But this? There is no way I'm getting this Skeleton dealie on her without a fight, no way. But there is no way I'm not doing it either. We are facing this function head on.
Costume is not the only element of the b-dreaded school function to contend with. Timing is also a factor. We are to arrive at the school at 6:30, judge all of the rooms and alters, which the parents have earlier in the day gotten together to build and decorate. I skipped that all together. I really did kind of want to do that so as to meet some of the parents that O goes to school with so that at the end of this debacle I feel like less of a lepper. But there was no way. I had actually come across some parents all convening after school. I knew they were talking about a plan for decoration. Normally in the states I would enter trepidatiously and ask "Are you guys talking about decorating the alters for DDML"? But not this time. This time I just walked by. Defeated by my own fear and lack of confidence in my Spanish. Which by the I am speaking rather well Ophelia's teacher told me so. It's the understanding I'm having trouble with. So I feigned ignorance and skipped it. Forgive me but I'm pretty sure at least 90% would do the same. Call me chicken. Bock. I was still planning on attending the event just that was a feat in and of its self.
O and I were truly having one of her worst days since we'd been here and really in the past year I could say. I'm sure my anxiety was rubbing off on her. From first bat of an eyelash we were off. She was up at the weirdo time of 4 am. And even when I brought her into bed with me the sun was rising at 5. We just switched to daylight savings time last Sunday but it's not even December and 5 just seems excessive to come up so early. Garumph. I'm tired and the vision of this day is long. Since I had decided not to go to the pre DDLM set up I was hell bent on getting O to sleep as much as she could so the night would go smoothly. Yep Nope. Not happening. The girl new it was Halloween and she was so excited to dress as Ariel. I did not ever tell her she was going to do this, I was skeleton all the way. We even decorated the Calaverita that was sent home like Ariel in hopes that I could show her how fun skeletons can be and squeezing her into that black and white doodad (no seashells. no tail. no red hair. I'm fucked) would be not horrible (fucked, I tell you). And I was. I don't know how we pissed away the longest day on the planet but we did, without a nap. Then somehow suddenly, I step out of the shower it's 5pm, black as night outside and O is sitting in a dark house in her princessa Pull Ups (in anticipation of the costume application). Ok I get why we change the clocks back to give us an extra hour of sun in the morning for all the farmers or something right? But this is too much really. Not even a hint of sun at 5. Stupid, but accepted. I apply the costume with a major fight and lots of bribing and pleading on my part. What the hell am I supposed to do in this situation. I straight up suck at this stuff. If only I can get her there and she can see all of her friends are skeletons she'll accept it. (Which goes against my very nature anyway. I'd rather she go against the grain, but question authority, all that crap, but not tonight, just not tonight). I'll get there a little early slap some face paint on her and all will be jolly. She'll see that it was all worth it and actually have some fun on Halloween. Then something happened and I truly cannot say what. But, it occurred to me that perhaps my cell phone did not have the right time on it. I don't really have another clock that I use but something triggered me to think that perhaps my phone does not have the correct time. I went to my computer and googled "Cabo Time" (I've actually used this multiple times just to check the time). It says 6:10. Oh no. Still in denial, they must have it wrong. I call Betty.
"Betty? Um hi it's Anni. I uhhh well um I think my clocks are messed up. Do you know what time it is?". She has held my hand through out this entire move and now I am calling to ask her what time it is??!! Pathetic.
"Yes Amiga of course. It's 6:10. I'm dropping Beto off right now. Are you on you your way??"
I run upstairs, put on mascara (I don't want to look like a total mess at my first SF, grab my keys, bag, face paint and kid, who is screaming that she doesn't want to go. Screaming. I get her in the car and realize, I didn't feed her. I turn the car on so she doesn't suffocate from heat, run back in the house, grab two granola bars and a mildly crusty tortilla from left over from lunch and hoof it back to the Suburban (which I'm driving cuz mine's in the shop, again), and proceed to drive responsibly into Cabo San Lucas (everybody catch that?). Ophelia is still crying and now yelling that she's got boogers that I cannot wipe because it's dark back there and she is too faraway to reach without turning around. So it had to wait until we got to the Pemex stoplight that seems to only work every now and again. It's been out 3 times since I've been here. This time it was working and I caught the red. Thank goodness I could wipe and give her a granola bar. We continue on to CSL usually my drive from home to school takes about 20mins max. But 6ish is quittin' time and I'm headed towards the barrio's and I am S.T.U.C.K. in Cabo traffic. Thankfully the crying has stopped and somehow the crazy, whiny awful kid is replaced with my lovely Ophelia. I think the granola bar must've helped. I gave her the tortilla to ensure her happy place. Now she's singing and talking to herself. Good. All I have to do is move this damned car. "Argggggggg". I say out loud as the guy in the white pick up next to me makes googly eyes at me and wants to be my car time lover. Arggggg. And then from the back I hear.
"Mommy??? Mommy?? Why did you just growl like a jaguar?"
OMG honey that is just what I needed. I mirror onto myself of what I must look like and sound like. Tension release. We'll get there when we do. Who cares if her face isn't painted. Shit I forgot she needed cascabels (bells for her wrists), calmite, calmite. You're not even that late just get there don't worry about the bells. And we did and as I roll in another car is right in front of me a full 15 minutes late. Duh. These things are programed for late parents (right? aren't they?), I mean it's not like a wedding which is the only non work related thing that I can think of that if you are not there by the time on the invite you are mud. We got there it was fine. All the kids in her class were skeletons two had their face painted and two didn't. So even that wasn't a big deal. I didn't even see if they had on their cascabels. We found her teacher, she has two O is attached to the English speaking one. I can't remember her name. I suck. She's great though. She takes really good care of O. I hand the babes off and go find a place amongst the parents. Who seem only a little scary. I search for Betty but she's no where to be found. Turns out Beto doesn't want her to go. He's 14. You know how it it is. I'm on my own. I find a place in the front row and not 4 seconds later the show starts with the, "prescholar" O's class. All four of them and O's teacher. Dressed in skelton costumes two with face painted and two without. Music starts and not one kid does anything. Nothing they all just stand on stage. O won't even drop the teachers hand. I guess they must've predicted this performance because the music lasted less 45 seconds and their portion of the show was over. I don't know what to think. I mean all of that fretting and freaking for a mere 45 seconds? But at least our part was done. I gathered up O and sat back to watch the show. It took a really long time for me to ease up and find some enjoyment out of the whole thing. I had known in the back of my head that once we got there and were settled I might actually enjoy myself. The truth is it took a really long time to get there. At one point we'd gone up to the top cafe area to get water. I set O at the table to drink hers and turn to watch the performance and she falls off her seat onto her head is is crying again and I'm feeling horrible. Still. Again. When is this experience not going to suck? Luckily at these functions they sell food. Ahhhh food. Healer of all things. We go get a donut and a piece of pizza. Better. O actually starts to catch a second wind with a little sugar and fat in her tummy. I'm even getting smiles out of her.
After the performances we go to check out her class room. This was when I actually found the event worth attending. I got to see all of the Calaveritas that were decorated. We actually found another Ariel Calaverita and this one was wayyyy better than ours. O even claimed it her own rejected ours. Really I don't blame her. This one was pretty darn cool. She had me take pictures of all of the Calaveritas that she liked. Now she was really getting into it and so was I. I got to see her class room. Meet her classmates and parents. It was nice to put the names with the face. Right away we saw Stebastian who always says goodbye to Ophelia and she usually ignores him. I have to say that this is the most beautiful boy I think that I have ever seen. And I love him because he is so nice to Ophelia. We also met Ricardo who Ophelia refers to as goggle. When we came to say hi he turned away and hid he face. The teacher informed me that they fight a lot. Ahhhhh, this must be the naughty brown boy "Goggle". Then Hannia who is the only other girl in the class. I don't know much about her yet.
We somehow got all the kids together and their teachers for a picture which I was so happy about. In the picture that I am posting here O is yelling at me not to take the picture. For some reason she hates it. Its ok if everyone else does it just not me. She can be such an ornery little bugger. And I took out the red eye for everyone but Ricardo, with is painted face and costume, I thought it had a stronger effect. That is my passive aggressive action against the boy who's not nice to my kid. Ha take that you naughty little brown boy who's not nice to my kid.
Finally I'd had my fill of parents and decorations and all and found an acceptable time to make our departure. I left a little sad, a little let down, mourning my beloved Halloween holiday in which at home I know how it works. My kid gets to dress up in the costume of her choice. She trick er treats in a perfect little neighborhood and then we go home and had out candy ourselves and see all of the other cutie patuties that come around. Butcha know what? We had an experience and isn't that what this is all about. I knew there would be some growing pains in moving to Cabo. This was just the first of many. That is the point we're growing. And next year when we do this I will know how it works and my Spanish will be better and I will have had more time with the ferocious parents and they won't seem so scary and Ophelia and Ricardo might not even hate each other and even if so there is still Stabatsian the most beautiful boy on the planet. We'll get it we really will. I cannot expect perfection on the first round especially with something so big. This will not be my last post in which you find me down, but everyday is a new day and we get to try again. And that my friends is just what we'll do.