The Sounds of Acapulco
My friend recently remarked on the noisiness of Mexico which got me thinking. Mexico is constantly a noisy place, in one way or another, and in many ways that reflects the Mexican culture, which is noisy in itself. There's a multitude of different sounds throughout a day here, all distinct, all with their own implications. On my hill, I get to experience all the sounds and sights the city has to offer, giving me a good idea of the sounds of Acapulco as a whole.
Birds, Morning's Music Maker
The day for me starts at about 7 in the morning, with the sound of roosters and morning rays of light. There are dogs barking periodically, but the predominate sound is birds. There are all kinds of birds here, all with different noises that they make. Some birds here sound like screaming children, other's sound like they're saying "Rebel Dog" with a funny voice that drives Rebel crazy. There's another bird that says "Don't forget", or at least it sounds like it does to my english speaking mind. Sometimes at this time of day, I'll hear the far off jingling of the trash truck down the hill. If I am awake enough, I'll watch the hill to see if it comes all the way up. The advantage of my mountaintop is that I can see what comes up this mountain, when. My neighbors think I'm psychic cause I come running out for water and trash trucks before they even know what is going on.
Agua Trucks, the sound of Capitalism
At about 8 at the earliest you'll hear the sound of hammers, or you will in my barrio anyway. There will also be the sound of chickens scratching around and roosters crowing during these early hours as well. After 8 you'll start to hear the music of the water trucks, announcing the presence of agua purificada, purified drinking water. These will continue all day into the late afternoon throughout the work week. Don't expect to hear these on sunday, the day I generally run out of agua purificada.
Wildlife and Bread
During the early morning hours the first barrio guy comes around my neighborhood. These are the guys with the haunting echo voice that go around Acapulco with baskets of food on their heads screaming "BOLIIIOOOO!! " or sometimes just "OOOOOOO!" Anyone interested comes outside to meet the chanting mexican. They sell a variety of things, from pizza to sweet bread for 3-6 pesos an item depending on what it is. You'll notice the sound of chattering squirrels in the early hours of the day, as a whole fleet of them chase our cat up the driveway. The amount of wildlife here in the hills is astounding.
Tortillas, Tortas and Markets
Around noon lasting late into the day are the guys on motorcycles that drive up and down the hill all day, beeping their horn. Generally, they sell corn tortillas by the half or whole kilo, 10-17 pesos respectively. Sometimes they sell pre-made tortas, or sandwiches on giant buns for 10-25 pesos. I generally go to the market at the end of the street at noon if I need to, which often results in me standing outside his house yelling "BUENOS TARDES". If I manage to yell loud enough I get the response of "BOY!" or what sounds like it anyway and soon I hear the sound of flip flops walking down the stairs, to meet me at the store on the first level.
Small Talk and A Coke Habit
Around this time is generally when I go out for my first coke too, visiting my friend Philip. Generally at this time of day, I have to stand outside the chain link entrance to his property, yelling "Bueno!" until someone answers, asking how many I want. I like to have simple small talk with the man that owns the place, Philip, as he understands I am learning spanish and speaks in a manner where I can understand.
Who needs a doorbell?
Yelling is the common doorbell here in Mexico. It is not considered rude to walk up to your friends house and yell until they answer you, it's actually how you get people's attention. With the way properties are designed here, if you're deep in your house you won't notice a door knock, but you will notice a screaming woman and all the neighborhood dogs barking in response.
Sometimes, during this time of day you have trucks driving through the neighborhood, beeping their horns. Sometimes there's yelling as well, but there's a certain kind of beeping that lets you know a butane truck is in the neighborhood. These are trucks that drive up the mountain with pre-filled canisters of butane, often not to their advertised weight, to sell to the people out of gas without a vehicle to take the canister to be filled themselves. This is one way gas is handled in my neighborhood. Due to prices and honestly in the product, most people find a way to fill their own canister themselves, down the hill deep in Acapulco.
Cold Treat on a Hot Day
Mid to late afternoon you'll hear the paleta guys in their cars, driving up the mountain to tempt all the neighborhood children with their ice cold frozen popsicles in flavors ranging from Tamarindo to grape. There are also guys that walk around with carts and bells around this time too, also selling paletas for cheaper. They have all sorts of flavors, often featuring chile of some sort. Mexicans are fans of their sweet and spicy combinations, especially when it involves fruit and chile. There are guys all around the city that sell fruit of varying kinds, from coconut to mango covered in chili or hot sauce.
Acapulco, the Bustling Bay
Sometimes in the middle of the day you here a loud horn, the sound of a huge oil tanker or other ship entering or leaving the bay. I imagine down on the coastera, it's a loud rather alien sound. Up here on my mountain, it's essentially the ships waving good bye as they leave Acapulco to their next destination. There's a bell toll every so often too, which comes from the huge church in Coasta Azul.
Who needs a grid?
Throughout all the daylight hours, you'll occasionally hear the loud sound of a water truck struggling it's way up a mountain. From my understanding, they carry 10,000 liters of water up the hill everytime they come. Some go to individual properties, although those generally go into sisterns. Others get split up between 2-5 houses, depending on need. If you're lucky, when you run out to meet a water truck, they'll just follow you home and give you whatever amount of water you need.
Cheap, Private Transportation
All day you hear the grumble of Volkswagon bugs and other taxi-like vehicles as they make their way up the hill. They drive up and down all day long, deep into the night for many of them. Some of them are collectivos, collective taxis that cost 7 pesos a seat. Some of them are private taxi, with costs depending on who you are and where you're going.
Later on, in early evening you'll hear the call of yet another barrio guy, this one bearing sweets for the end of the day. These are generally different than the sweets we think of in the states, as a heads up. These almost always cost 3 pesos each.
Crash, Bang, Boom!
As the day turns into night, you'll hear the call of dogs and birds periodically as you do all day long. This is also the time for fireworks. From my house, I can see any fireworks shot off in the main bay just so long as I'm paying attention at the right time. If they're completely across the bay, it'll take several seconds before the sound of them reaches us, which just goes to show how far away they are. While there are a lot of unexplained explosion noises throughout the day here, many of them are fireworks which are a constant occurrance here, especially on holidays. They blow up boulders here for building materials, which is another common explosion. Most properties in Mexico are surrounded by tall rock or concrete walls, for privacy's sake. Many of these walls in Acapulco were built just by blowing up the many giant boulders in the area into smaller boulders. There is occasional gunfire from down in the city, but you'll have that anywhere you go. The amount of gunfire here is much less than many other cities I've lived. The majority of the gunfire we hear is from a nearby shooting range.
Dogs, Crickets, Chickens
Once it's night, crickets and dogs are king. Dogs bark all night long here, peaking at about 4-5 every single morning. For some reason every day around that time, all the dogs on my hill and probably many others just go crazy, barking for a good hour over nothing. Even Rebel and Tequila get roused at this time of morning, chuffing and huffing from their bed.
Mexico is a musical nation
All day and all night here, especially on holidays, you'll hear music. Mexicans are big fans of music with bass, so you often here dubstep like sound beats randomly at 3 in the morning down the hill. On the night of Baby'O's big independance day party(Baby'O is a famous dance club here in Aca), we could hear the music from our house. From my friends house, you can always clearly hear the music of the night club nearest to him. Driving down the coastera is a loud and musical experience. The restaurants play music loudly as do the clubs. The taxis, collectivos and ghetto busses are all known for their dancy beats. When I used to ride the busses regularly, mexican men would come on the bus with a small speaker and sing for money.
Noise with Purpose
So yes, Mexico is noisy but there's a lot going on here. All the noises I hear throughout the day are not without reason. Every single one has a purpose and instead of being a nuisance, it's a source of inspiration. I live in a country to where people are dedicated enough to walk up and down a mountain with a basket full of food on their head to support themselves. When I was a kid, I lived in a predominately mexican neighborhood and I was honestly annoyed by the amount of noise mexicans made as a whole. Living here and being immersed in the culture, I embrace all the sounds mexico has to give me.