Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Sounds of San Miguel

I think it is the right time to discuss the sounds of Mexico. For a gringa, like me, the unusual sounds that one hears on a daily basis require an adjustment in one’s thinking. Back home, I used to get annoyed by the low-level sound of passing cars…. that occasional “swoosh” one hears as cars drive down the adjacent streets. I felt that the sound invaded the peace and tranquility of my garden. I found the noise irritating enough that my husband went to the trouble of installing a small pond with a waterfall in order to mask the sound.
I still recall the first morning that I woke up in my new home here in old Mexico to the sound of a rooster crowing enthusiastically on the roof next door, at approximately 4 AM. The rude awakening brought back memories of a trip to Roatan, Honduras. Just like it was yesterday, I recall quite vividly that the roosters crowed all night long, apparently disturbed by the lights of passing cars. I soon discovered that they were living directly under my cabana and that everyone, except me of course, knew about the roosters and found the situation quite amusing.
Fortunately, my friend, the Mexican rooster soon settled down. But, only long enough for the next surprise. Fireworks began to erupt at about 6 AM. The cacophony of sounds lasted for a full hour. I would soon discover that fireworks play an integral role in Mexican life, a topic for another day, perhaps. The exploding rounds promptly set off the roof dogs, which are inclined to bark relentlessly when any stranger passes.
As the noise finally subsided, I slowly fell back asleep only to be roused five minutes later by the clamorous music of the Sonic gas truck, as it lumbered slowly down the street in hopes of finding some customers. Next came the vegetable man, with another catchy tune blaring from a set of speakers mounted on the roof of his truck ,while he attempted to be heard over the din, shouting on a microphone while informing the neighbors what fruits and vegetables were on special that day. I have to admit that the various tunes are quite catchy and after a few weeks, I actually began to identify which vender was passing. Once again I drifted off to dreamland only to be woken this time by a strange hissing sound; it seemed very close. Too close for comfort. At first, I was unable to identify the source. Could it be a snake? Raising my head off the pillow, and quickly glancing around the room, I saw nothing out of place. Then, framed perfectly in the eyebrow window above the door to my bedroom, I spied a colorful hot air balloon, hovering in the air above my casa. My first thought….“my god, I am naked! I wonder if those people in the balloon can see me?” (Please note that I am not particularly inclined towards public nudity. It never occurred to me that anyone would be capable of seeing past the high wall that surrounds my little house.)
Finally, the gentleman who sells fresh rolls approached the house. He shouts “bolillos, bollillos”…..hoping to attract some buyers. As the dust settled, a garbage truck appeared in the distance.

The garbage men alert the neighbors of their proximity by banging two metal pipes together, waiting patiently as all my neighbors stream from their houses with garbage in tow. Just as everything seemed to settle down, I heard a peculiar whistle. I wondered what it could be. Why it’s the fellow who sharpens knives, of course.

Is it done yet, you ask? Not quite….Soon the carefree sounds of Ranchero music drift into the bedroom. My neighbor, Hector, the local herrero (ironworker) begins his day by switching on his favorite radio station. I think to myself, “must be time to get up! No, lollygagging in bed for you, my dear. The whole of Mexico is alive and well.
I am sure you are thinking, “Lord, it sounds downright noisy in Mexico.” Strangely, I can honestly say that all is well here in my new home. I have become quite accustomed to the din. It has grown to be such a part of my daily life that it rarely disturbs me. I actually find the clamor quite reassuring. The noise is simply a delightful reminder of the vibrancy and joyful celebration of what life has to offer. This is what Mexico is all about.


  1. thanks for your post. please clarify: do you live in or near centro?

    1. To answer your question....I live in a small colonia within the city limits.Everything within the city limits is reasonably close to centro.