The Sounds of Mexico
A friend once told me that in Mexico “we live loud.” Most of the time I don’t mind it, but there are a few things that I am hoping will not follow us when we finally move to our new house.
The new house has glass in the windows, but here there are only large wooden blinds over our windows outside the screens. They don’t close well so we just leave them alone to avoid breaking them. This means that there is no barrier but screen between us and the outdoor audio soundtrack that is Mexico. Our new house is also in a quieter area because it’s on the edge of town; right now we are in Centro with all the sounds of that come along with that convenience.
I will not miss the half dozen barking dogs that live across the street from me who seem to be nocturnal. I never see them during the day, they don’t bark at all until I lay down in bed and try to relax, and suddenly there must be a million interesting things going on out there because that pack of dogs is yipping and barking and loosing it’s mind. Sometimes I feel like I might do the same.
I will not miss the traffic on our busy street. Scooters, dirt bikes, cars, and trucks. Honking, clanging, winding up their engines, shifting gears, echoing off the buildings. Buzzing, grinding, speeding past with a roar that sounds like it’s just outside my bedroom.
One sound I will miss is the rooster that I hear out behind our house somewhere. I don’t know exactly where he lives, I’ve never sought him out, but I appreciate his song. I grew up with chickens, my girls love chickens and I like hearing them, as long as they aren’t close enough to wake me up with the inevitable middle of the night crowing.
I hope we will still be able to hear the church bells, too. Even though I have no interest in actually going to church I like to hear the call to worship ringing through the air, an audible thread weaving the community together.
Outside I love my backyard jungle, full of palm trees and slightly wild purple and green boat lilies that line the pathways. Last night another coconut fell from the tree over our house, landing with a BANG and rolling noisily across the slanted roof, but I really can’t complain about living under a coconut tree.
During the day the resident iguanas entertain us, appearing and disappearing with only rustles of vegetation to mark their passing. We regularly capture tortoises caught out between hiding places and give them names. When the cat goes out the grackles watch her closely, scolding loudly so she knows she’s been seen, and at night barking geckos hunt mosquitos under our porch light. I am reminded to look up from my work when I hear the coo of the doves that light on the building next door or the whir of tiny green hummingbirds that slice through the air almost too fast to follow.
The roaming sales people are something new and interesting, although I am tired of the Zeta Gas truck-it must pass our house half a dozen times a day playing its’ repetitive and annoyingly catchy song. The bread man riding his tricyclo and banging on the bars to announce his presence, the shout of the agua truck driver, the slide whistle (of all things!) that I think may be a man who sharpens knives. If you wait a while what you need will probably come to you or at least be within earshot.
The voices are still the most baffling part of Mexico for me because I have not mastered the language yet. I eavesdrop on people walking past, the caretaker working on the house next to us, taxi drivers, the high pitched voices of children, the occasional argument. I pick out words that I know, and sometimes I can even follow the conversation. I find that there is one thing that overcomes this language barrier. I smile at them, and they smile back, and that small positive moment gives us both a little boost of friendly connection.
Jason looks forward to moving to a quieter place so his virtual meetings don’t have so much background noise, although I don’t think it will ever be truly quiet like it was in his office in the states. And who would want it to be? Being here is an adventure after all.
It’s low season so the island is relatively quiet right now. In a few months the cruise ships pick up in frequency and volume, and I hear holidays are always a big deal. When we get to February and my favorite time, Carnaval, well, that’s when the island will really be rockin’.
We may not have the language down, and we may not be used to “living loud” just yet, but I think we’ll find a middle ground when we move a little further out that will allow us to have moments of quiet reflection while still taking part in the vibrant culture all around us.
And if not, I saw a family pack of ear plugs for sale at Mega.
Is there a sound that you associate with a place? Mexico, maybe?