It was a legitimate concern of ours when moving that we might have to give up our favorite holiday – luckily that was not the case! Since there are so many expats in Gabs the local Irish pub hosts a Halloween party every year.
Garrett and I love to push our creativity to the limit to when making costumes – but this year was our biggest challenge yet. How to make costumes in a country with no craft stores and NO ACCESS TO AMAZON PRIME!?!? Thank goodness I brought all my face paints so we at least had that to work with. Naturally we wanted to stick to an African theme to celebrate our new home. Since the wildlife is our favorite thing about Botswana – we decided to dress up like our favorite types of antelopes – a Kudu and a Gemsbock.
There are all sorts of wonderful antelope species across southern Africa that we have discovered in our bush adventures. Kudus are very special because they have the most majestic and beautiful spiraled horns. Even with these massive and unwieldy horns, they stand tall and move with elegance. We first discovered Gemsbock in Namibia (where they are actually called Oryx locally). We were mesmerized by these curious black and white creatures that stood out in such stark contrast to the bright red sands of Sossusvlei. We loved their distinctive long black ribbed horns and striped faces. They are harder to find in Botswana so it is very special when we spot one!
The biggest challenge of our costumes was figuring out how to make the horns. I needed something with a spiral so I unraveled a paper towel roll and lined it with wire to support the shape/height then spray painted it. Garrett had to try a couple methods before finding something that worked. He widdled down a branch to the right size/shape, covered it with plastic then covered it with a homemade paper mache mix (cornstarch/water/newspaper). When dry the paper mache was pulled off the create a lightweight mold of a horn. We glued on string to give it the necessary ribbing then sprayed it all black. Garrett screwed sticks into a headband to support the upright position of the horns, plus a string to tie around his neck so they wouldn’t fall off. I made our ears out of the thick brown paper envelopes that Xrays come in at the hospital. Then painted them with a set of acrylic paints I found at the hardware store. All in all we probably spent about $15 – mostly on the spray paint which is expensive here! It was a super fun project – I can’t wait until we have another chance to put together costumes here!
The Halloween party was a blast! At first there was only a few people dressed up but as the night went on more and more people with costumes showed up. But we definitely had the most elaborate outfits. We found it hilarious that very few people knew what we were. The locals would ask – “are you a deer”? I am like “No! There are no deers here!” They had no idea what a kudu or gemsbock looked like! We forget that it is not typical for locals to go on safaris or visit the bush – it is largely something that expats and tourists are interested in. South Africans would know that we were some type of antelope but also wouldn’t know which ones – they mostly guessed springbok or impala…..neither of which have spiraled horns! A few people guessed duiker….which is honestly just an insult – these are mini antelopes with tiny stubs for horns! I guess Garrett and I have a much bigger interest in wildlife than the majority of people – we can now identify most all of the common species in Botswana on sight.
The party was hosted by Jose Cuervo which meant a lot of tequila shots! In Botswana people chase their tequila shots with tomatoes,,,,which I find quite bizarre. We tried it …..never again – terrible!! They also had a shot ski which felt so strange to be using in 90 degree weather. They don’t use it like we do in Colorado – here the ski is held below you and you have to pick up the shot with your mouth and tilt your head back to drink it. It actually works better because there is less spilling. We ended up getting home around 3 am – probably our latest and wildest night out in Gabs yet!