Living in Honduras or Guatemala as a foreigner is sometimes hard, mostly fun and never boring. This Blog is about more than just the oddities of my years in the not-so tranquil, cobble-stoned town of Copán Ruinas and, more recently, Antigua Guatemala. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…
Sunday, August 12, 2012
What’s the noise all about?
I don’t know
whether it has ever been scientifically researched, but I wouldn’t be surprised
if Hondurans are the loudest people on Earth.
A Honduran event
without a lot of noise is as unlikely as a Honduran meal without tortillas.
Hondurans really like to indulge in making a racket. The more the merrier!
there’s fireworks for every special occasion (Christmas, Easter, Independence
Day, New Year, among others). And I’m not talking about a beautiful fireworks
display, but heavy duty bombs that rattle the windows, make the dog dive under
the bed and even get haughty frowns from my cats. At dawn, of course. Or
actually, they start at dawn, but from there on there’s no real pattern.
preferably celebrated through serenades at 5am. Loud ones, too. And in order to
sell a product, you need a whole wall of speakers in front of your business,
preferably with heavily distorted punta or
reggaeton. This makes shopping in
malls an unbearable experience and unfortunately this trend has made it all the
way to the previously (relatively) quiet town of Copán Ruinas.
I just crossed
the central park and it completely baffles me how people can actually stand it
without suffering from noise induced hearing loss. (Or maybe they’re already
deaf and that’s why they turn up the volume). On each corner people are selling
one thing or another through their amplifiers, backed up by a few businesses in
adjoining streets that also loudly announce their products, because it is weekend
and the neighbours do it, so they do it too. Does this really work? What
happened to a gentle and generic elevator tune on the background? For me it
definitely doesn’t work. I go a mile out of my way to shop somewhere in
silence. (Which means I’ll probably starve to death very soon.).
I lost count how
many times I moved because of Religious Noise Pollution: a church in the
neighbourhood is normally very tolerable until the congregation grows and
enough money had been raised to buy a sound system, usually with more speakers
than church members.
Oh, and there’s
yelling at their children.
Radios and TVs
that are perpetually turned on. So what if you can’t hear yours because of your
neighbour’s, you just turn your own volume up a bit!
Indecently loud cell
phone ring tones.
dog tied up on the patio that barks and cries all night long. (Seriously, am I the only one to be bothered??)
The rooster on
the same patio. (I don’t think they even have chickens. So what’s the rooster
And now, to make
matters much worse, there’re the primary elections that instead of a battle of
visions seems to have become the Battle of Noise. The Liberals are loud, so the
Nationalists need to be louder, and so on…
Am I overly sound
sensitive here? Or just not Honduran enough?
I do have a
theory about this: I grew up in an apartment above a carpentry workshop and
until this day I find the hammering and whining of a chainsaw a comforting
sound. As a matter of fact, I find it so familiar, and soothing, I sleep like a
baby right through it. So what if the sound you grow up with is what comforts
you??? That would explain why Hondurans get so uncomfortable when there’s no
noise around. Have you noticed how they produce incredible amounts of decibels
wherever silence might reign? On beaches, picnic areas, parks: open the door of
your car and crank up the volume!
So to go back to
my theory, it would mean that Hondurans need
noise in order to feel comfortable, because that was the environment of their
early childhood. It also means there is no solution to the problem unless we
can create a new generation of children that will grow up in silence (or at
least a no-noisy ambience). But how to do that? Maybe get Coca-Cola involved
with a campaign aimed at young parents: The Silent
As for now, it
has started to rain, so at least the sound of rain hitting the zinc roof drowns
out the noise of the rest of the world. It also means the power will go out
shortly. But that is a whole different theme…