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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Halloween

Halloween has always been one of the most important days of the year for me. My family takes pride in being the best decorated house on the block. We would spent a weekend dutifully spreading out fake spiderwebs across out bushes and scattering around fake limbs and blood stains. My parents and I return from grocery runs with black spaghetti, boo chips, bags of fun sized candy and a few boxes of full sized for a lucky few.

This year was the first year I wasn´t there to unravel the purple and orange lights, or set up the fog machine or dress my dog up as BatLuna (the most feared labradoodle in all of Gotham city). Leaving for the trek on the 30th I was terrified. I was excited to explore the Cordillera but scared that I would spend the time preocupied with homesickness and the intimidating idea that last year was most likely the last Halloween at home for at least four years. But when the day came and I left my tent in the morning I looked around at my friends wearing devil horns and tails and I didn’t feel lonely anymore. After a day of passes that took away my breath, both literally and figuratively, I went into my tent to sit down and reflect. I was setting up my sleeping pad as I heard an outburst of laughter coming from a few tents over. Curious I looked over to see my fellow Dragons one by one walking up to one of the tents, yelling out “trick or treat” and walking away happily with a fun sized snickers in hand.

The next day we celebrated Day of The Dead. A greatly welcomed break to appreciate loved ones who have passed on to the next world or whatever you believe lies at the end of the bright light. We stood in a circle reading the names each of us so carefully scratched into our rocks with the figure of Condoriri perched above us. The majesty of the pachamama observing our mourning.

Halloween was one of the days I most dreaded about this trip; the idea of not being with my family on one of the most important days of the year. But sitting in the tent with Livana and Natasha eating gummy bears and chocolate or scratching the names of my grandfathers into stone or eating oatmeal I drowned in raisins surrounded by devils horns made this Halloween one of the most memorable years yet.