I really liked the post that fellow volunteers Paul and Susan had about their Halloween party up in Pavlador (http://susanandpaulkz.blogspot.com/2010/11/first-year-as-peace-corps-volunteers.html). So much, that I was inspired to tell about our festivities here. First, let me just summarize the month of October. The last few weeks have been pretty busy. October 9 and 10 I was in Almaty for Zhascamp (www.zhascamp.kz). The next weekend was FLEX testing in Taraz. Then the next weekend Mark and I went to Zhanatas. Then the next week was Halloween and a trip to Almaty to say goodbye to the Kaz20s. This weekend was a picnic (today) and the new volunteers come tonight (volunteer for Taraz). So I haven't had much time to just sit around and relax. Every weekend has been fun, but fun in a gulyating kind of way and not in a otdihating kind of way.
So back to Halloween. Like always, my org does a Halloween party for our students and volunteers. This year, we had our party on the 30th (Saturday night), not because of religious reasons (apparently they did that in Georgia) but just because it was convienient. I once again dressed as a cow (8 years running; thanks Brad! When should I retire the costume.) Mark (site-mate) was a mummy made better by a bronzing spray his girlfriend made. We had scary masks, Indian saris, and ghosts, but nothing way spectacular with the costumes. And of course, we had games. Because like every party here, you can't have a party with no games. Strange question one for the night was, when is the party going to get started, after the party had already started. See it was 6:45, the food was laid out, the music was going, people were around. Looks to me like the party is going, but because the program of games hadn't started yet, there was no party. (Second strange question of the night was repeatedly asked me by one of the students. What's next, he would say? Can we scare people? My response was, what do you mean, scare people? You can scare people whenever you want. How do we coordinate a group scaring of people. Although maybe he meant go outside and walk around the town scaring people, which people did later.)
Games we played included: pin the amulet on the witch, toss ping pong ball into jack-o-lanterns, mummy wrap, and apple bobbing.
The party lasted about two hours or so, and then we all went home. I walked home in my cow costume. And by chance, it happened to be Day of the City. And by chance, Taraz decided to go all out and celebrate it this year. (Last year, I know there was a city day, but I don't think anyone cared.) So the square was full of people! More than I've ever seen in Taraz on a Saturday night just walking around. And I was in my cow costume. And it felt great. I loved doing stupid things for attention in America (e.g. Mulhawk Spring 2008), but I feel so restricted by the Peace Corps 24/7 Face of America standard here. However, it was Halloween, dang it. And it was fine. Some laughs and stares, but surprising not even a stop by local police. I think some people realized it was Halloween weekend; some may have thought I was just a guy in a costume dressed up to take photos with, and others… I don't know what they must have thought of me.
On actual Halloween, I was invited to another Halloween party. I didn't really want to go (I finally wanted a day of just resting), but I decided to give a shot. It was actually a lot of fun. Mostly just a daytime disco at a local café, and once again the costumes were disappointing. Most of the students there said they couldn't find one (well, you should just make one then). In the end, I was glad that I went.