Welcome to Mexico!
By Victoria Schmidt
Sounds of Mexico
You’ll never have to be alone in Mexico. Especially when you live in a village. All I have to do is step outside my door, and I see my neighbors walking down the street, and I hear their greeting “Buenos Dias, Como estas?, “Hola vecino!”
The morning starts quiet, but around 7:00 a.m. the birds are telling us the sun is rising, the buses rumble down the rock road. Soon, the garbage truck makes it way past our door, and we hear the sounds of the workers signaling each other as they toss garbage bags into the truck, and their laughter when they find something that amuses them.
So the traffic picks up, more cars go up our street, more people walk down our sidewalk. The dogs across the street bark at our dogs when the dog walker arrives.
Soon water trucks drive by, their drivers yelling “agua!’ Gas trucks soon pass by with their particular brand of gas playing their individual songs through their speakers.
The knife sharpener plays his flute, the ice cream seller rings a bell reminiscent of my bicycle bell when I was a child. Up the street, roosters crow. The hen’s eggs are sold at the corner abarrotes. I can hear the clip, clop of a horse’s hooves as they walk the rock road.
Horns beep warning people to move their car along, or extending a greeting. The junk truck drives by broadcasting the type of junk he will take.
Fresh fruit arrives on the bed of a pick-up with a speaker mounted atop the battered truck. “Fresas!” Later another truck, this time shouting “Queso!” cheese, just outside my front door. If walking, be prepared for rooftop dogs to look down and bark. The big dogs seem fierce, the Chihuahua’s –only think they’re tough!
As afternoon begins, our neighbor across the street gives us a concert of tunes, while our neighbor in back practices or gives music lessons. Down the street I can hear the children at the school singing, and playing with squeals of delight as they play at recess. The timbre on the door rings as people try to sell fruit, or sometime they just ask for aid. While our local church bells chime the time, and announces the times of service. Young people drive by in their car and their speakers, which are almost the same size of their car, are booming their tunes so loud that my own bones seem to shake. As the day becomes evening I watch the mariachi y bandas migrate toward the pier to entertain the diners.
On weekends, our neighborhood is filled with residents and visiting tapatios that the locals call the “Guad Squad.” Bus, after bus, carries people to the pier or the park. The Malecon and the pier become a carnival of vendors, and clowns, music, balloons, and cotton candy.
The night arrives, and a festival is in the village. Music blares from the sound system, and announcers’ voices cut through the night air while cohetes shoot fireworks to color the night sky.
Chapala’s Patron Saint is St. Francis of Assissi, the Patron Saint of Animals. For nine days in the spring, cohetes go off at 6:00 a.m. noon, 6:00 p.m. and 11:00, sending my frightened dogs hiding four times a day. Mexico is filled with sound, it is the voice of the village, the chorus of the culture, the heartbeat of the people. If one finds oneself lonely in Mexico, they need only stop, look and listen. They will be lonely no more.