For whatever reason, I love Halloween. Maybe it’s the beautiful fall colors, cooler weather, dressing up in goofy clothing, memories of trick-or-treating… I also love carving pumpkins. We were in the states in September this year and had a chance to do that with our friends one evening. Now back in Haiti, I wanted to share that same tradition with our Haitian workers at the guesthouse.
Josiane went to the market for us to pick up a pumpkin, carried it on her head, transported it in a tap-tap, and eventually arrived at the guesthouse with … a watermelon? No, it really is a pumpkin. Haitian pumpkins are actually green! So I did my best to explain our tradition of carving pumpkins each year, and though they thought it was a bit strange, our workers wanted to try it out.
Clarel drew the face on, and then we set up shop to carve it out. Each of them took a turn scooping it out, and then carving the face. They were pretty serious during the whole process, and ended up doing a great job!
The best part was our discussion trying to understand the other’s viewpoint on pumpkins. Haitians never carve them, but rather slice them in half, gut out the middle, and then bake/boil them to make soup or other things. Sometimes after baking it, they eat the pumpkin with a spoon, just like that. The seeds are sometimes used for planting more pumpkins, but only one of our workers who was from the countryside had ever eaten them. Her family would rinse the seeds, then lay them out in the sun to dry (because they don’t own ovens), and then peel off the outer shell to eat the seed.
When I told them that we put our pumpkins outside at night, they all had the exact same reaction – “Don’t the rats eat them?” I guess we in the States don’t really have that problem, but when I explained to them that people smash them in the streets, they were very confused.