Hometown Halloween

Posted by on Nov 4, 2007 in Chicago | 7 Comments

Longtime readers will remember how much I love Halloween. Last year I dressed up as a mountain climber and spent Halloween at the Mount Everest Base Camp. Just the other day Sui (the Californian I traveled with on and off in Tibet, Nepal & India) and I were reminiscing about our Halloween adventure. Now we’re both home and can’t believe it’s been a year since I woke up to her vomiting from altitude sickness! I also received a “Happy Halloween” email from Nargiza, my translator in Kyrgyzstan. I wrote her back to see just what kind of Halloween celebration happens in a former Soviet and heavily Muslim country.

Some of my readers requested I continue to post about my Halloween as early as last Spring. This one isn’t as in depth as my 2005 post but I don’t have much to talk about. Every year Christmas decorations go up earlier and Halloween is becoming overshadowed. My friends with apartments don’t throw Halloween parties and are too busy to put together costumes to go out in. Those my age that wear costumes inevitably put on something very inappropriate and not in the true spirit of Halloween. Even the ten trick-or-treaters we got were in uncreative costumes. If you can’t sew it’s still possible to put together something fun and not store bought.

On that note I mention my store-bought costume (made by hand but not by me!) of a Maasai woman. I liked the beadwork in East Africa but couldn’t find a good excuse to buy so much of it without Halloween. I spent an hour trying on different combinations of necklaces in a souvenir shop in Nairobi, Kenya the day before I flew to London. The staff was helpful in helping me choose which combinations worked best but didn’t quite understand why I was buying so much—they had never heard of Halloween.

My Maasai costume from Kenya Buster in his cowboy costume Sleepy cowboy Buster

The headdress and necklaces are from a shop in downtown Nairobi, bracelets are from various markets on the outskirts of Nairobi and both Kangas (cloth) are from Zanzibar. Most Maasai wear a red plaid cloth like a cape but I found the women around the Kenya/Tanzania border more interesting in their adaption of colorful Kangas like the ones I bought in Zanzibar.

My family’s new dog, Buster was more than willing to dress up and play watchdog for trick-or-treaters. I’ve never seen a dog who likes clothes as much as this one. Attentive readers will notice Buster’s cowboy hat from my souvenir page. I bought it in Thailand with the foresight that I would someday have a dog that would wear hats. His bandanna is also trip-related—I used it as everything from a scarf and towel to a wrap for leftover food during Phase II!

Every other year since 2004 I’ve been on the road for Halloween, usually somewhere remote where I can’t get a descent piece of candy. China’s improved leaps and bounds since my first visit in 2004 but it still lacks edible chocolate in the West. Wherever I am next year I can only hope for more celebration of my favorite holiday.


  1. ali
    November 4, 2007

    You and Buster’s costumes turned out wonderfully! Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year and me and a coworker got in the spirit. I’ve had older friends say that for me to be taken seriously I’ve got to abandon such things as dressing up for halloween. Uh, no. It’s wrapped up in who I am and how putting together the bits and pieces makes me so very happy.

    It’s always a blast to see what people like you come up with. That’s a joy, to see other’s creativity.

  2. kev
    November 4, 2007

    Not related to Halloween, but I was just looking at your map a few posts down the front page, and noticed that your Phase II opening flight has a quick landing in Kamchatka. While that certainly would have been a cool way to fly, I’m pretty sure you went through Seoul, which is one peninsula down :-).

  3. kimberley
    November 4, 2007

    Once again, your costume is amazing (Buster too!) Wow.

  4. Megan
    November 4, 2007

    I?ve had older friends say that for me to be taken seriously I?ve got to abandon such things as dressing up for halloween

    What? Those aren’t your friends!

    Um, that’s pretty bad. I think it’s all fixed now. My maps are a little abstract and oversimplified and I don’t always get things in the right place. Thanks!

    Thanks, but since I bought all of the pieces its doesn’t feel as authentic as my 2005 costume.

  5. Lucas
    November 7, 2007

    omg cute dog

  6. matthew held
    November 8, 2007

    So, if you were a Maasai, did you charge your mom 1$ for each photo she took of you?


  7. Megan
    November 10, 2007

    Buster is definitely cute and has learned to high-5 since becoming part of this family.

    I did not charge $1 for my photos but that’s a good suggestion for an alternate source of cash flow! You’ll notice there are no Maasai photos in my gallery. I didn’t mind paying most of the Ethiopian tribes but the Maasai were shockingly commercialized.