Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween in Mexico - Suddenly Scary

Halloween is my favorite holiday and I feel lucky that here in Mexico (especially on the border) the people celebrate Halloween AND Dia de los Muertos.  It's like you get to extend the fun for three days!

Last night however we had a strange scary experience that I wish to write about.  I should start by explaining the difference between Trick-or-Treating here in Mexico compared to the U.S.  In the U.S. (at least where I come from) usually around half of the houses in a decent sized neighborhood are handing out candy.  In the U.S. people leisurely stroll around neighborhoods and children end up collecting way more candy then they'll likely eat.  Here in Mexico it's around 1 in 50 houses.  Mostly it's businesses that hand out candy with residences being a new trend that's slowly taking hold.  

SO, what happens when you get a big neighborhood full of 2000+ kids and only 20 places handing out candy?  A feeding frenzy.   Like piranhas, running, yelling, rushing to get to one of the few places before they run out.  Last night as we began our trek down the street with our neighbor friends we saw a lady come out to begin handing out candy and heard a kid half way down the street yell - ACA!!! - and within seconds the lady had a line of over 60-70 kids in front of her house.  She hurriedly passed out candy and by the time my kids got there she was OUT.  That fast, about 30 seconds and she was done.  

That happened all night long and being that Niko is so small and slow he often ended up with no candy.  I've never been sad on Halloween before, but seeing his face drop so many times was a real buzzkill, poor kid.  Luckily at his age it's all fun and games 10 seconds after a defeat and I loved him for that.  

On to the scary event last night.  Last night amongst the running (yes, you have to RUN here if you're going to get any candy in this 30 minute window) a truck pulled up beside me with two men inside wearing scary as shit clown/monster masks.  I was scared because I didn't understand why they were stopping next to my kids and I (we were ahead of the pack) and rolling down their window.  I was about to run for it when the man reached his hand out the window and started handing them candy.  

Serial killer masks, black truck, on the street, handing out candy - SILENTLY.  I was so shocked that I just stood there and let it happen, like, I was momentarily brain dead.  Once I had my wits about me again we walked on and looked back - and the feeding frenzy had begun.  

All I could think was "Um REALLY???"  "That's NOT QUITE SAFE I DON'T THINK?!!?"   When our group got all together everyone was wearing strange looks on their face and so I asked "WHAT was that? Shouldn't we look at that candy?  What did you get??"  The parents all started talking at once about how strange it was and started taking out the beer shaped lollipops that were given.  (LOL are there beer shaped lolli's in the U.S.?  Cuz we do in Mexico!)  Everybody was just kind of shrugging their shoulders when one of the moms kids popped his in his mouth.  Reaction?  Laughter and jokes about how he would be the test lab rat and that if he died in a few minutes then we'd all know.  And then off we ran for more possible houses.

I of course had to have a little bit MORE of a freak out then that and asked my husband what he thought.  He confirmed my suspicions that the men were cartel members.  It was obvious to everyone and I guess the reason why they weren't truly concerned by the obvious (frightening!) taboo.  It's just KNOWN in Mexico that the cartel (the good ones) don't hurt kids intentionally. Sometimes they're caught in the crossfire and that's life, but for the most part women and children are left out of ugly business.  

So, it was just our friendly neighborhood cartel doing their (freaky!?) part on Halloween.  The cartel is often seen on Christmas handing out toys in poor neighborhoods and so the candy truck was no bit surprise.