The eternal, infernal racket

PERHAPS THE most jarring cultural aspect that hits people in the face and ears on moving to Mexico from a calmer country is the stunning amount of noise.

Mexicans, to a great degree, are like six-year-olds. They are constantly screaming in one fashion or another. It is noise for noise’s sake. You often want to slap their backsides and tell them to shush! Or no dessert.

I found this video that highlights the issue well. It was shot by a vacationing Gringo who rented an upstairs apartment in the State of Jalisco.

Where we live isn’t quite so bad. The Hacienda property extends one block from our hardscrabble barrio’s main street out front to a dead-end street out back. The actual house abuts the back street where traffic is virtually nonexistent.

So the noise-making is usually a block away. However, as I write this just after 7 a.m., I hear the loudspeaker of a propane truck, and someone is blowing into a tuba somewhere. I am not making this up.

For my first few years here, the noise drove me nuts, but I’ve become accustomed to it. When fireworks blast before dawn or a band blares on the nearby plaza, if I wake up, I just turn over and go back to sleep.

35 thoughts on “The eternal, infernal racket

  1. Felipe: My biggest complaint was for funerals, when they shoot off the rockets “boom … boom … boom,” three times on the hour for 24 hours. I could sleep through it with earplugs, but the dog would shiver and whimper constantly. Finally found a vet who gave me doggy tranquilizers.

    How many jokes can there be about why are there volume knobs on anything sold in Mexico?

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      1. Felipe: Oh yes, they were daily, just more frequent at times. Once, one of our neighbors who owned a store downtown got caught in a chase between a pickup full of police chasing a truckload of guys who robbed a store in Santa Clara del Cobre. He was locking the doors and was hit by a stray bullet. The rockets went off hourly for three days from in front of his house, right behind ours.

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  2. Another great post, señor.

    On my visits to MX, I have never been there long enough in one stretch to get used to the noise. The loud fireworks that sound like bombs are the worst. What are those things? They remind me of the old cherry bombs we had NOB as kids.

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  3. I live in an older walkable neighborhood, and I love the convenience. Since I retired, I sometimes fantasize about moving to the country though. If I do, it has to be dark, and it has to be quiet. I want to see the stars and hear the birds.

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    1. Creigh: You’re in the U.S., right? Speaking of dark and quiet, at night where I live it often is quiet and it’s very dark. There are gadzillions of stars overhead, something I never spotted from my yard in Houston. Heck, you could hardly spot the moon.

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      1. Yes, New Mexico. Which we like to point out is not really new, not really Mexico. Or, as Territorial Governor Manuel Armijo said long ago, “so far from Heaven, so close to Texas.”

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        1. Creigh: So, New Mexico. Interesting. Pretty place from what I’ve seen in photos. I’ve never been there if you don’t count crossing from one end to another in a Greyhound bus a couple of times back in the 1960s.

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  4. I lived in the video pueblo for four years where I learned that Mexico is noisy. Whether I like it or my dogs like it, it is just that way. I am further out now and can enjoy fireworks and castillos from a distance. I turn on a floor fan that is not quiet to soften the cojetes that are shot off nearby, but at times I still jump after 16 years. I don’t know if I would rather the horrible banda music or the bombs going off in air.

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      1. When my neighbors play music that I don’t like, I just reciprocate by treating them to something that I consider obnoxious, turned up to full volume. Now, they play good music. The sound is just part of the freedom that is Mexico. It means that I can play anything I want at 2:30 a.m., if I want to, and no one’s going to listen to anyone’s complaint. Whenever I finish a project, and it’s something I’ve done for years, you’ll hear The Band playing The Weight.

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        1. Ms. Shoes: I remember your love of fighting fire with fire. You are an odd one.

          I had to go to YouTube to hear The Weight. It’s a goodie that I knew of, of course. I simply did not recall the name of the song, if I ever knew it. Some things don’t stick in my mind. Recently, Easy Rider appeared on Netflix, so we watched it. It was the first time I’d seen the whole thing since it came out in the 1960s. It has not aged well in the slightest. It’s amateurish and cheesy, but was the quite the thing in those faraway hippie years. I’ve read the cast was mostly stoned during the filming, and it’s obvious. That song was on the soundtrack. Here’s a very good version.

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  5. I must have lived in well over a half dozen places down there. I only recall when I lived in Morelia, Michoacán, that it was comparable to that. Fortunately, living out in the countryside is much more pleasant and agreeable to my sensibilities.

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  6. My first few visits to Mexico I found the early morning sounds quite quaint. Bells, horns, toots, loudspeakers of passing-by businesses and the canons. Oh, those canons. By my 4th visit I was finding it all quite obnoxious. Even the outdoor market could give me a headache. But it was always refreshing to head to the plaza for some people watching and bird sightings. Sounds there as well, but for reasons unknown they were so much more tolerable. Yes, Mexico wouldn’t be Mexico without its noise makers.

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  7. If ever I could relate, this says it all. My quiet neighborhood started changing several years ago, and with the growth came a different group of people. Very quiet early in the day, but come late evenings and special events I think even earplugs will not dim the sound. The majority speak very little English, and the average “starter size home” now holds at least three generations or older parents with adult children for sure. Two-car garages are not used for the cars anymore, and the other four or five cars line the driveway or the curb in front of the house.

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    1. Pat: Thanks for the feedback. First time here, it appears. I assume you live in the United States, not Mexico, and perhaps are referring to Mexicans or Central Americans moving into your neighborhood. How’s that diversity thing going for you? Not too happily, it seems. You have my sympathy.

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  8. For some reason, I have never minded the noise. Maybe because I have always been a noisemaker myself. Each occupant in the apartment next door often plays his own type of music. We have three or four different concerts going on simultaneously. I usually add in a bit of Wagner. Nothing can outshout a Valkyrie.

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  9. The only thing we hear at our house is the occasional big booms from town. There is a salon de fiestas down the road that we hear now and then. The noise that bothers me is when I am in town and hear the various cars with gargantuan speakers tied to the roof, playing their message over and over. If they just got rid of those I would be happy, even with parades, and trucks with gas or whatever other stuff they sell. Or I guess I can just get some ear buds and listen to my ipod.

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    1. Tancho: One of the worst situations one can find oneself in is to be stuck in traffic directly behind one of those cars with huge speakers strapped to the roof or that have speakers sitting in an open trunk. I always pull out of traffic at the next corner.

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  10. My SIL is visiting us now. One of her first observations was how much better she sleeps sans the 24/7 noise of Veracruz city where she has lived most of her life. The acclimation to peace and quiet is much easier than to that of racket.

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    1. Rosalind! Where you been hiding? Of course, life in the U.S. of A. is significantly more tranquil in many respects. But what we get down here in trade for the racket is lower prices, lower utilities, less rules and regulations, etc., etc., etc. I wouldn’t go back up there para nada. It’s simply easier to live here. Come on back.

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      1. It is a trade off. In many respects, we’re better suited for life at the 41st parallel than the 19th. And life has never been better for conservatives than under Presidente Trump. You might want to come take a peek.

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        1. Rosalind: If I took a peek, it would from my side of the border, and since the border areas are the diciest, I think I’ll just stay put here in the middle of the country. It’s nice where I am. Alas, though I immensely favor Presidente Trump, I am not optimistic for the United States over the long haul. Sad.

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  11. My first month-long visit to SMA coincided with the re-consecration of a church 30 feet above where we were staying. The number of cohetes that were shot off during the first week were enough to blow the Devil’s bum to bits! The next week of celebrations provided the soundtrack to WW2/Korea/Nam. We finally got enough sleep in our last week to recover for the drive back NOB. Wine, whiskey and earplugs are a necessity for survival!

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    1. Dan: While I do not resort to wine or whiskey, I do shove silicone plugs into my ears on nights they stage concerts on the nearby plaza. That happens about eight times a year. There’s no sleeping without those plugs. And I also use them occasionally on other nights as needed. God bless silicone earplugs!

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  12. That video was hysterical. Yes, amongst the uninitiated, the noise of Mexico comes as something of a surprise. And I have to say, based on this video and other observations (yours included), I have to believe that Mexico City, perhaps surprisingly, is something of an oasis of quiet. Yes, ironic that the country’s capital and biggest city is relatively quiet, but there you have it. Sure, we have the endless trucks collecting scrap metal, the cries of “Tamales Oaxaqueños” streaming from bicycle-mounted speakers, and the ringing of bells to indicate the trash collection is here. But otherwise, things can be pretty quiet, at least in residential neighborhoods. Oh sure, there’s the occasional loud party, but overall it’s pretty tolerable. Worse in my opinion are the constant power outages. In the 20 years I’ve lived in Boston, I’ve been through maybe 2 power outages, both planned and warned for work on the lines. In Mexico City, there are probably 2 (unplanned) power outages in the typical month.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where it’s deathly quiet. Except for the neighbors driving by in their pristine, enormous, but God-awfully noisy diesel pickups on their way to office jobs.

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      1. Well, actually not. My comments also refer to Agrícola Oriental, a very working class part of CDMX where my ex, F, lives. That said, Roma Sur, a fairly upscale area was only slightly quieter.

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