Well, there I was feeling all homesick for some fall in the Midwest—pumpkins, leaves, jackets, football—or at least a little Halloween fun in New Orleans, when lo and behold, I walk into the kitchen and they’re all carving grapefruits. They did it just like a pumpkin: cut a little hold in top, reached in and pulled out the insides, then very carefully, using gigantic knives with no handles and teeny little fingers and grapefruits, carved out spooky little faces. Then they put a candle inside, tied some ribbon to either end, and hung them on the doorknobs to greet trick-or-treaters, who don’t come on October 31st. They come on November 1st and 2nd for All Saints and All Souls days. They even have a creepy little version of trick-or-treat: Eshpasha pa la calabera, si no me das te da cagalera.
Translation: Special porridge for the skull, but if you don’t give me, it will give you loose stools. Usually, then, the villagers give the kids some porridge and sweets, realllly wanting to avoid those loose stools.
On All Saints Day, they light little candles for the kids and babies who have died, and place the first plate of food they cook on the table next to the candles and wait for the steam of the food to go to the souls of the babies. After about half an hour, they say, “Okay. The souls are finished eating. Now it’s time to eat!”
They also place one plate of food and one little black candle on a chair for the anima soula: the lonely soul. Each person gets a plate of food, including kids who come to the door, and a special plate is always set aside for the lonely soul. The very next day, on All Souls Day, they do the same thing for adults who have died.
Also, we’re out of water again. The water went out Friday night, and by Sunday night—with no clean dishes, no reserve water in the drum and nothing to bathe with, people started asking around. Apparently a pipe broke. I suggested we try to wash some dishes with the maybe 5 liters of water we had left in the drum, but Antonia said it wasn’t clean. She said we have to be careful because these are the times when people, especially ones with babies, are desperate to use any water they can find to wash and cook and bathe, and people start getting sick from the unclean water. Point taken. Taking a shower now costs $2.50 in 1.5L of Crystal water:
Update: it poured all day. Everyone ran outside with soap and shampoo and bathed, right there in the front lawn. I really wanted to lay all the dishes out on the grass, too, but I didn’t think of it in time.