Over the course of the past week, we’ve faced the challenge of celebrating two very American traditions ~ Halloween and Election Day ~ as expats in a foreign land. I am happy to report that on both occasions, what we lacked in authenticity, we more than made up for in enthusiasm.
Halloween was a particularly tricky, given the fact that in Costa Ricans perceive it as a day for devil~worshipers. Churches of all denominations preach its evil, and warn their congregations against participating in festivities. Despite attempts to convince my friends that I’ve never seen a baby sacrificed or witnessed any other satanic rituals on Halloween, they would still have no part of it. Thankfully, one of our Gringa friends had more luck with her neighbors. She was able to persuade ten of them to pass out candy to our kids (provided, of course, that she supply the candy!).
Once we had Trick~or~Treat lined up, we had to come up with costumes. What I’ve always loved about Halloween is its creative element, and this year offered a great opportunity for my inner Martha Stewart. With no Target costume aisles for thousands of miles around, I bought some felt, threaded a needle, and started sewing. Thankfully, Luc wanted to be Baby Jaguar from the Diego cartoon, and not something complicated like Chewy the Wookie. In the end, it might not have looked as good as a store~bought costume, but I’m sure I had as much fun making it as he had wearing it.
Election Day for me has always been a day to celebrate, and this year was certainly no exception. The main difference this time was that my election day happened on October 28th, the day my absentee ballot arrived. Given the precariousness of mail delivery here, I nearly hurdled myself over the post office counter when I saw that it had arrived on schedule. It was such a great feeling to vote in this historic election and be counted as an American even though I’m so far from home. Absentee voting is a privilege that Costa Ricans do not have, and it’s one that I will no longer take for granted. The only thing I missed (apart from the long lines) was receiving my “I Voted” sticker to wear proudly throughout the day.
With CNN tuned in non~stop in our house once the polls had closed, November 4th played out for us quite a lot like it might have in the States (thankfully we live in the Central Time Zone). Although we missed celebrating with crowds in the streets upon Obama’s victory, we joined thousands of Americans living abroad in raising our heads up high and feeling genuinely proud again of who we are and where we come from.