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Monday, November 08, 2010

Spooky Beach

If it is the weekend after Halloween, it must be time for the fourth annual Halloween-at-the-Beach extravaganza.

This year about 30 families (with 50+ kids) made the 90 minute schlep to the former German colonial capital of Tanganyika, Bagamoyo. Poor Bagamoyo has seen much better days. In general the city, and the many beach hotels it boasts, are run-down and kind of sad. At least that is my experience of it. These days Bagamoyo is mostly the preferred spot for government-funded workshops (fill in any topic area) being not too far from Dar, but just far enough to ensure workshop participants, and their organizers, get a full per diem.

Traveler’s Lodge, where the event has been held for the past three years, put up a grand event for us – all organized by Amy C., the queen of Halloween. The hotel is definitely the best that Bagamoyo has to offer – and this year Jaden, Rowan and I snagged one of the small but recently renovated, clean and comfortable beachfront bandas – making it a MUCH better experience than last time when we were banished to an older, more run-down, banda in the outer reaches of the garden.

So what does Halloween look like for this rag-tag group of international revelers?

Carve your own orb by the sea.

The local watermelons actually make great jack-o-lanterns – and are much easier for kids to carve than pumpkins. And like Jaden, you can eat as you carve.

Knock the hell out of a very solid parent-made (impressive) piñata.

Neither of my kids had much luck with the pinata.

Wear the vampire teeth and eat the Sweet Tarts brought to TZ from Target that were in the pinata.

Actually... with these vampire teeth maybe I won't have to spend a fortune on braces for Rowan after all.

Kids eat fish sticks (I don't have a photo of that) and then head back to the bandas to prepare for trick or treating.

Jaden and Rowan in front of our banda with our watermelon.

Parents elaborately decorate their bandas and dress like goons, or worse.

I am impressed with the all-out effort some families put into their bandas – and wonder why I am somehow missing the Halloween décor spirit? Was it something that happened to me as a child?

Kids trick or treat.

Jaden is just taking it all in...

We were lucky that there was a nice breeze the whole time, and so no cases of heat exhaustion this year.

The spirit of Michael Jackson joined us at the beach, too.

After the trick or treating the parents had their chance to drink and eat and be merry.

Zombies drinking.

While the kids reviewed and exchanged their booty, all while watching Scooby-Doo.

Lots of classic candy you can’t find in Tanzania. Good job to the parents to planned ahead!

Followed by a late night bonfire on the beach.

I was worried the trees would catch fire. But I’m a worry wart and a party pooper. So there!

And kids roasted and ate marshmallows imported from South Africa that don’t quite taste right. But we’re in Africa so you take what you can get.

(And isn’t it amazing you can get marshmallows at all!)

The kids went to bed after midnight – a non-international travel record for them. But of course Jaden popped awake at 6 AM wanting to eat candy and play. We tried to go for a swim but the gate to the sea wasn’t open yet so we settled for pulling down all the synthetic spider webs and spooky stickers we put up the night before and waited for breakfast to start.

After breakfast we would have gone for a swim but the tide was soooooooo faaaaarrrr out that we would have had to walk for a mile just to dip our toes in the water. So it was back in the car and we were home in Dar before noon.

This is how we do Halloween in Dar. Shall we save a banda for you next year?

(Thanks to Amy for organizing and to all my fellow parents who helped me out with candy, décor and diet Pepsi– because I’m so lame. And thanks to Annelie for some of the photos. Next year I promise to plan better.)