Archive for the ‘Noise’ Category
The Morning Music
It’s another typical morning in Jicaron City, El Salvador. At 25 minutes to 6am, I’ve begun to wake up, having fallen asleep early the night before. I slept well, so the thumping sound drumming out the neighbor’s stereo one house over and up the hill is fortunately, less troublesome than it would be.
At 5:45 another neighbor one house over in the other direction begins his morning chorus, having taken his queue from neighbor number one. We now have a partial orchestra, with a thempety thump on one side (is it a reggaeton or a modern latino techno?) and a cheery Ranchera ringing from the other – all we need now is a good salsa or cumbia and we’re complete!
Ahh..a hot shower
Today was a “water” day* which means the water valves coming from the street in our neighborhood are turned on for 1-2 hours while everyone fills up their pila (washing sink), barrels, and various jugs. For my husband and I, we simply turn the valve for our water tank on and let it fill; with a tank our sink and shower act like any other plumbing in the States.
I decided to jump on the opportunity to take a “hot” shower. Hot water heaters have little use here but for less than 2 months a year that its cooler, but for that 2 hour window when the street tap is turned on, we can take a “faux” hot shower, because the water has been “heated” naturally from the sun as the tank sits atop a hill and its sunny every day in Chalatenango. During a string of rainy days or during a cold wave, one must be brave getting into the shower. If it ever gets brrr cold here I’m heating up water on the stove, ‘nuf bravery for me.
* We share water with another neighborhood. On days we don’t get water, their taps are turned on.
We went to the doctor today. I’m in the waiting room first, while my husband parks the car. A young couple also waits for the doctor, the appointment ahead of us. They are sitting apart, and appear sullen. The young woman is playing Ranchera music a bit too audible on her cell phone while everyone else in the small waiting room ignores the show of adolescence. A roment after my husband walks in the doctor is ready for the sullen couple. Everyone is relieved. Perhaps an unusual scene at a fertility clinic, but as for the noise, not unusual among young people in El Salvador.
When the house was packed with in-laws and kids over the holidays and New Years, there were at least 2 different cell phones playing music at any point in the day in the house. Since the i-pod and other imitations are too pricey for most anyone here, anyone who is a teenager runs around with a music-playable cell phone, blasting Reggaeton, M&M, American Hits, or Ranchera music. It’s a tad noisy, but has a more festive feel than a group of i-podders walking around together in drone silence, listening to music individually but only heard when a microphone shared gets plugged into a friend’s ear. I saw video footage of a “silent rave” some organizers had put together in a large city once. We have come too far with individual players and screens. I prefer the Salvadoran style of music sharing, just not in waiting rooms.
We ate steak at a restaurant. The Plants were amazing, but the meat was tough. Nearly all meat in el Salvador is tough, but as my husband remarks, its “real” meat. Flavor’s good, you start chewing, and keep chewing, and then chaw chaw chaw a little more. Finally, you reach a point where you can’t chaw any darn more and either have to swallow the remaining bit, like a hard shredded piece of gum, or clandestinely discard it under a salad leaf.
Don’t get too excited about free-range here, as poultry producers have caught onto “smush-em-in-the-dark” chicken raising (see Food, Inc., a fantastically revealing documentary). One can find superfat chickens or giant breast and leg parts in just about any grocery store. The good thing, if you live in the country, is there’s a lady raising chickens around every corner – they cost more than the grocery store and are tougher and skinnier, but you’re happily hormone free.
Today was a typical day in a Jicaron* household. I woke up a bit earlier than normal, thanks to my husband’s cousin. As is the Salvadoran custom, one must wake up another with loud music. So did our cousin Arturo, about 10 minutes to 6:00am, by turning the patio radio on and tuning into “Radio Ranchera” medium-high, audible for all 7 of us between the two sides of our ranch home, to enjoy. Houses in the country are built with a 6 inch gap between the top of the wall and the roof, to help circulate air in the extreme heat. This has an added benefit of circulating sound (ha ha ha haaaaaaa). So when someone here listens to music, TV, or pleasant conversation, everyone enjoys it with them! I went to pee and asked Arturo if I could ‘lower’ the music a bit, as the patio is just outside our bedroom. He murmured no problem in Spanish. Great (genial)!
Later that morning I waited for Rosa or her mother in law to let me know if we’d be taking Rosa’s daughter to the tiny little neighborhood called “Nances” to visit the “curandera” (natural/spiritual healer) as they call her. She was to help cure whatever ails Rosa’s daughter. Our visit yesterday didn’t yield results, as the “Bruja” (witch-lady in Spanish) as I have jokingly been calling her, was not in yesterday. They didn’t come by, so I checked in with our other neighbor, Heidi, about visiting the English class being taught in Agua Caliente by the visiting gringos. She couldn’t make the morning class, so we’d go in the afternoon instead. Just as well, as I had clothes to wash and an “almuerzo” (lunch) to make.
It was just before 6:00 am when the neighbors stereo blasted happy music into the air. They may have been starting early for New Years. Truly, on any given day music can fountain out of nowhere starting at an hour like this where we’re living.
Here in the country sound privacy and sound barriers are not given too much consideration. A live and let live attitude prevails, and from what I gather, asking someone to turn down their music here would be seen as more inconsiderate than actually playing the music too loud. As today is the 31st I’ll tuck this noise event in with the whole New Year’s experience. Throughout the day firecrackers go off intermittently also, so we’re inside of a sound drum all day. Firecrackers, Fireworks, are set off here both on the 24th (“Veinticuatro”) and the 31st.
Christmas Eve is considered the highlight of Christmas here, and the 25th a happy day of rest afterward. With firecrackers and music, the 24th is a big party starting after work at night. It’s like having two New Year’s Eves. During these holidays, it’s customary to eat “Panes con Pollo,” small French-bread sandwiches, stuffed with chicken cooked in a rich sauce, and veggies, like cucumber, radishes, and a leafy vegetable called “berro” (don’t know what this is in English).
photo and recipe found at nury2000 on flicker
For both the 24th and 31st everyone buys new outfits – shirt, pants/skirt, shoes, accessories – the whole kit and caboodle, and then they “Estrenar,” or wear these clothes out for the first time. Almost no one in the poorer segments of the populace buy gifts; that would be too much on top of the new outfits.