Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Noises Off

The first day I arrived in Piura, the language center administrator warned me that I would have to get used to the noise.  "Noise?"  I smugly thought, "I can handle city noise, I've traveled, no problem, I'll get used to it."  

However, when it feels like the Pan-American Highway runs through the middle of your room, a few weeks is not enough time.  The constant cacophony of city life screeches, bellows, and barks in my ears as I navigate daily life here.  On the street, or in my room,  persistent city noise is a constant. 

Taxis and motos honk a quick  one or two-beat tone to lure your business.  Honking at other cars, people, dogs, or just for fun is part of the sport of buses, motos, taxis, or private cars. Perhaps they're just being friendly and greeting each other.  But, please, I could do without the manners, if that's the case. Yet, after riding in taxis and motos, most of the honking is in anger at the other drivers who decide to make their own road rules. Mufflers, for the most part, seem to be fashion accessories on most motorized vehicles. Vehicle brakes frequently squeak right outside my window.  Trucks rumble down this supposed quiet street,  revving their engines as the driver shifts gears on manual transmissions that hum like vacuum cleaners. 

Buildings aren't insulated, just brick and stucco (if you're lucky). There are no human mysteries when your building has no insulation.Windows don't offer much solace either. Without central air conditioning, windows are left open or else you might suffocate. I can only imagine what summer will be like when it arrives in full glory. When your windows face the street, they don't offer much in a sound barrier. Add in the construction noise of concrete mixers, hammering, sawing, and other handicraft noise, and I feel like I'm live in the middle of  "Extreme Home Makeover," if they were in my room with me. 

Every dog bark, baby cry, next door neighbor's laugh or yell is heard in perfect clarity. Perhaps Bose could learn a few things.  People that live my building seem to feel it was their national duty to slam the front door as they come and go from their activities.  Dogs pace across their tile floors above me with their click clack of their nails sounding like a host of rogue cockroaches scurrying across the floor.  Street vendors on Saturday and Sunday morning parade up and down the street, announcing the sale of their wares like medieval minstrels.  Neighborhood guards patrol the streets 24/7, blowing their whistles every few minutes.  As of yet, I haven't figured out the rhyme or reason for the whistles. Each guard in each street seems to have a slight variation of the tune.  

Perhaps Peruvians, or in this case, Piuranos, have a high noise tolerance.  My post is not to degrade or insult the people, just remarking on my observations.  Sure, big American or other world cities are loud, obnoxious, and over-the-top.  Yet, to my unfamiliar ear, Piura's city noise is loud. Yet, perhaps it is true, you really get accustomed to where you are.   However, I can't help but think of the line of a hymn, "where can I turn for peace?"  Maybe Bose is where I can turn for that sweet sound of silence.  Maybe when I come back to the United States, I will be freaked out because it is too quiet. 

1 comment:

  1. Emily thanks for the blog and all the info - wonderful cultural reading. I hope this experience is amazing for you.