When traveling or living abroad in different destinations, one question that’s constantly plaguing people is whether or not you can keep all your holiday traditions alive in the new land. And, while many cultures do not observe all the holidays we’ve come to know and love, there are certainly places where enough expatriates have come together to help traditions stay alive.
In the sweet little town of San Pedro, where I’ve been living for the last month, I found myself looking forward to finding out what celebrations surrounded the North American Halloween customs or combined with the more region-specific Dia de los Muertos traditions.
I was excited to see lots of costumes and spooky decorations in the shops around town and began contemplating my costume when a friend told me about an annual party at an oceanfront hotel downtown, the Holiday Hotel.
Two friends of mine decided to join me on Ambergris Caye for a Caribbean-style celebration, and when they came down to Belize via the Chetumal, Mexico ferry, we went straight to the store to pick up some costume-creating craft supplies in preparation for the party.
We found the choices quite comical and ended up with a few sparkly pieces of swag here and there and some grand ideas about making mermaid, jungle-man, and woodland fairy looks. I personally purchased a flowing blue/green wig and a bit of glitter. If nothing else came together, at least I would still have some sort of disguise.
Back at home, we crafted our costumes while sipping cocktails, and came out as a perfect trio of mermaid, daffodil, and Frankenstein—we were all set. Two of my neighbors at the Grand Baymen Garden stopped by to join us, one dressed as a drunken cheetah, or “party animal,” and one wearing a bright red sparkling bow with a tag reading, “To: Women, From: God.” (He had high aspirations of winning the funniest costume prize.)
Once sufficiently made up, our little fivesome headed out into the night, strolling slowly up the beach to the hotel where the party was taking place. On our way, however, we were easily side tracked by the haunted house at Wayo’s Beach Bar. A long line of ghouls, goblins, and pretty princesses were lined up outside, and we joined the procession to wait our turn.
Entering into the house, creepy creatures lurked in every corner. Hands reached out seeking assistance from their supposed after-life states, and gory men with chainsaws chased children and adults alike through the maze and back out into the warm night. I would call this a pretty impressive island production, and I could have spotted about 20 terrified patrons who seemed to share my view.
Slowly, we continued on toward the actual party. It began at 9 PM and ran until approximately 4 AM. A $10 BZ admission fee bought you not only the best people watching around town, but free Jell-O shots after the winning costumes were announced at 2 AM.
Walking in, the hotel seemed totally transformed. If I went back this moment, I still might not recognize it. The entire restaurant area was removed to form one giant dance floor and creatures of every variety imaginable were getting down to great tunes.
Two decadently dressed sugar skulls and the entire Star Wars cast were some of the night’s most memorable costumes (in my mind). I couldn’t believe anyone could survive the heat inside such a getup, when my green wig alone was keeping things nice and toasty in my neck of the woods.
After a few solid hours of dancing, I stepped outside for some fresh air and saw the last of San Pedro’s trick-or-treaters gobbling up candy to their heart’s content.
A small wave of nostalgia washed over me, and I found myself appreciating a paradise where kids were safe to run around enjoying a holiday without overly involved adult supervision. On this island, folks look out for one another.
I turned to head back into the hotel and, although I’d like to say I left the party early so that I could attend the island’s regularly scheduled Sunday Funday the next afternoon, all good (or decent) intentions sometimes fall short, and instead I stayed up dancing until the wee hours of the morning.
In all my travels, I’ve never found a Halloween party to rival those back home in the states, but I have to say San Pedro really gave some of my past parties a run for their money. Two thumbs up for creative costumes, lively local music, and a spooktacular atmosphere.
Interested in reading more about how I’m thriving and surviving in San Pedro, Belize? Click here to discover this island along with me.
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